• PRO Goaltending Camp: Michael Di Pietro

    If you get a chance to speak with Ontario-based scouts about the 2015 OHL Entry Draft, it’s almost unanimous that the first goalie expected to be selected is Michael Di Pietro.

    Di Pietro spent the 2013-14 season with the Sun County Panthers in the Alliance Hockey Minor Midget Pavilion League (AHMMPL).

    PRO Goaltending owner Michael Lawrence quickly labeled Di Pietro as the camp’s “Young Stud”, saying he has the making to be an OHL first-round draft pick.

    But beyond Di Pietro’s natural athleticism and above-average instincts, as a 15-year-old, what makes him such a quality prospect are his preparation skills. He’s known as being the first guy waiting to get into the rink before early-morning practices, he’s the first to arrive for games, he puts in the extra time to warm up his eyes and hands with tennis ball exercises, and he’s very disciplined with his entire pre-game routine. He also can’t wait to get into the room to do video analysis with his goalie coach or his head coach.

    Consider this a classy, crucial form of goaltender etiquette, one that is rarely seen in a 15-year-old. If he continues to take great pride in his craft and respect the preparation process, he’ll be developing that pro mentality much earlier than most prospects his age.

    In terms of his on-ice game, Di Pietro is very much a diamond in the rough. The PRO Goaltending system is very new to him, so Lawrence explained that there’s a lot of work to be done. He wants to stop the puck so badly that he’s over-aggressive, spending too much time in the white ice.

    But I always feel it’s easier to dial back a goalie’s intensity than it is to try and crank it up, so as time goes on, Di Pietro is expected to work on making more conservative pushes and not challenging as often.

    There are very few 15-year-old prospects that have the body control and awareness to display containment on a regular basis. But backed by impressive preparation skills and good off-ice and practice habits, the foundation is set for Di Pietro to have a strong season in preparation for the 2015 OHL Entry Draft.

  • PRO Goaltending Camp: Evan Cormier

    Bowmanville, ONT. native Evan Cormier was a fifth-round draft pick (85th overall) of the North Bay Battalion in 2013. He spent last season playing for the North Bay Trappers in the NOJHL, where he posted a .911 save percentage in 34 regular season games. His consistency for the Trappers earned a spot on the league’s Second All-Star Team.

    He capped off a strong season of development by earning his first OHL win for North Bay on Feb. 17, 2014 against Peterborough. He made his OHL debut as a 15-year-old on Nov. 2, 2013, and in three total OHL appearances last season, Cormier stopped 29 of 30 shots.

    Cormier, who is most recently listed at 6-foot-2 and 183 pounds, has an optimal frame; he’s not too lanky and underweight, but by no means is he considered a smaller goalie. He’s also a late-1997 prospect (born on November 6), so his draft year is not until 2016.

    In speaking with PRO Goaltending head goalie coach Michael Lawrence, it sounds like Cormier was a perfect fit for the 2014 Development Program camp. He’s looking to take the next step in his career by earning a full-time spot on North Bay’s 2014-15 squad.

    We selected this short clip of Cormier because it showcased steady hands, early eyes, and good footwork. I like the paths he took on his lateral adjustments when recovering back to his skates and then pushing from the blue line angle to the center angle, or from one blue line angle to the opposite blue line. He appears relaxed, controlled, and comfortable.

    Lawrence believes Cormier has the potential to be a high-end draft pick, and it certainly helps that he’s a late birth year. You can read more about Cormier’s OHL debut and see one of his YouTube highlight videos right here.

  • Remote Scouting the PRO Goaltending Development Camp

    Remote coaching and scouting is quickly becoming a more prevalent and viable option within the goaltending community.

    One of the main reasons for this is sheer accessibility, mainly due to new technologies.

    I can’t be everywhere at once, but I want to scout as many prospects as possible. Remote scouting certainly isn’t the same as scouting in a live setting, but when “being there” isn’t an option due to schedule conflicts or budget restraints, using tools like Coach’s Eye and Double Blue Analytics can be quite valuable to everyone involved (the camp’s coaching staff, the goalies in attendance, and any potentially interested teams).

    Such is the case for the recent two-week PRO Goaltending Development Camp that took place in Oshawa, ONT. Run by Michael Lawrence, who recently accepted the goalie coaching gig for HC Ambrì-Piotta in Switzerland’s NLA, this development camp is a high-intensity training program that prepares major-junior, collegiate, and pro goalies for the next level.

    A few previous attendees of this camp include Malcolm Subban, Mark Visentin, Scott Wedgewood, and Daniel Altshuller, just to name a few.

    Due to previous assignments with my Between Two Worlds project, I was unable to attend this camp. But I did want to take advantage of an opportunity to do remote scouting for what is considered as one of the top annual development goalie camps in Canada.

    When this situation arises, the goal is simple: get a basic idea of what these goalies are all about.

    I’m not trying to write a full-blown scouting report on each kid or try and gain an intimate understanding of their style. I just want to get my eyes on these prospects so I have a better idea of who is out there and what they’re doing.

    Doing remote scouting for high-end prospects camps also gives me a better understanding of what goalie coaches are teaching, how they’re implementing variations of commonly-used drills, and how they teach certain techniques.

    For example, in speaking with Lawrence during the 2014 Development Program, I learned that PRO Goaltending’s system really stresses structured, economical crease movements, as well as puck-tracking and rebound placement. Lawrence also preaches and emphasizes being situationally aware of their positioning in the net so that all secondary movements are done with precision and purpose.

    So while it’s fair to call this specific scouting project a very generalized or “watered-down” version of live scouting, there’s still a lot of value in doing this for a respected company like PRO Goaltending.

    A special thanks to George Grammenopoulos for providing me with the videos, and I want to thank Lawrence for spending time with me discussing each prospect amidst our respective hectic travel schedules!

    First up on the list is Evan Cormier, a prospect for the OHL’s North Bay Battalion. Check back later for a short video of Evan and a few scouting notes.

  • Eli Wilson’s Elite Prospects Camp in Toronto

    One of the last stops on my Between Two Worlds summer project gets underway this afternoon. Now I’m off to Toronto, where I’ll be scouting and mentoring 24 goalies in Eli Wilson’s Elite Prospects Camp. Some of you might remember I attended this camp in Edmonton last summer, so I’m stoked to see some familiar faces and some new ones as well!

    This year’s camp is the perfect environment for my book project. Not only does the roster include a couple of OHL and BCHL goalies, but it also includes a couple of high-level Slovakian prospects and the goalie for Korea’s National Team.

    For this camp, I will be holding exit interviews with each goaltender in order to give them my feedback on their strengths, weaknesses, and other key aspects of their style and overall development. I will also be holding a presentation on The Power Within and the Three Pillars of Elite Goaltending.

    Below is a closer look at the roster, as well as a few notes on some guys I’ve been exposed to before. Be sure to follow @EliWilsonGoaltending and @TheGoalieGuild on Twitter in order to stay up to date on the camp.

    Eli Wilson Goaltending Elite Prospects Camp Roster

    Matej Tomek: The highly-touted Bratislava native is going to be a treat to evaluate. A 6-foot-3 goalie born in 1997, Tomek was lights out for the Slovakian National U-17 team, and he also played in 12 games for their U-18 program. He was drafted 172nd overall by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL) in 2014. I have not seen him play before, but I do know that he’s expected to be one of the top international goalies available in the 2015 NHL Draft.

    Daniel Gibl: Gibl is probably the most recognizable name in this camp. A native of Ilava, Slovakia, the 1995-born prospect played in 27 games for the Barrie Colts and posted a .902 SV%.

    Ho Seung Son: It’s not every day you get an opportunity to scout a goalie from the Korean National Team. Son is a 31-year-old goalie hailing from Seoul, and has a ton of experience at the international level. In 2010, Son led Anyang Halla to an Asia League championship after posting a .904 SV% in 35 regular season games and a .906 SV% in nine playoff games. He also has two Gold medals and one Silver medal from various World Championships tournaments.

    David Ovsjannikov: Born in Plzen, Czech Republic, Ovsjannikov is a 6-foot-5 prospect born in 1997. He spent the better part of the past three seasons playing for the Oakland Grizzlies U-16 and U-18 (T1EL) teams, but finished last season with the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL. They signed him to a standard OHL contract in September of 2013. You can read more about him here.

    Brendan Johnston: Another OHL prospect born in 1997, Johnston was drafted 97th overall by the Windsor Spitfires in 2013. He won a Bronze medal in the OHL Gold Cup with the Chatham-Kent Cyclones midget-major AAA program in 2013 and hails from Port Lambton, Ontario.

    Justin Fazio: A native of Sarnia, Fazio appeared in three games for the Sting (OHL) last season. He was drafted 69th overall in 2013 and spent most of last season with the Lambton Shores Predators of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. I have been tracking Fazio’s progress for the past two seasons, but this will be my first time seeing him perform in a live setting.

    Francis Marotte: The Longueuil, Quebec native spent the 2013-14 season playing for the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the BCHL, appearing in 10 games and posting an .864 save percentage. A 1995 birth-year prospect, Marotte previously played for Rice Memorial Prep, which is located in Vermont. He also played for the Rocky Mountain Roughriders, a solid AAA program based in Colorado.

    Sean Green: This 1996-born prospect was the very first goalie to sign up for The Goalie Guild’s first-ever Scouting Profiler Clinic, which took place last summer in Minneapolis, MN. You can read his scouting report from that clinic here. He spent the 2013-14 season playing for the Whitby Wildcats AAA program in Ontario.

    Kristopher Augustine: Finished his sophomore season for Andover High School in Massachusetts and is a New York native.

    Tyler Parmiter: Junior AA

    Ben Dennis: Junior-A

    Colby Muise: Midget-AAA

    Ryan Fisher: Midget-AA

    Jaxon Maloney: Midget-AA

    Callum Boland: Midget-Minors

    Hunter Bosch: Bantam-AAA

    Vincent Shonka: Bantam-AAA

    Jarett Omstead: Bantam-AAA

    I’m also excited to catch up with six goalies that I scouted at last year’s Elite Prospects Camp in Edmonton. Click on their name to read their scouting reports from that camp:

    Braddock Baalerud: Junior-A

    Liam Bohm-Meyer: Midget-Minor AA

    Anthony Coletta: Toronto, GOTHL

    Nicolas Herrebrugh: Midget-AA Alberta

    Anthony McCarthy: Midget-Minor AAA

    Liam McOnie: Midget-AAA

  • A New Partnership with Vaughn Custom Sports

    As many of you know, I recently toured the Vaughn Custom Sports factory in Oxford, MI.

    If you haven’t already, check out the photos and videos from the tour on our Facebook page. I posted more photos on Twitter (June 17-18 for reference), and you can also get a glimpse of a factory tour on Vaughn’s website.

    Jimmy Howard’s latest set of Vaughn pads, ready to be stuffed!

    Like a hungry, pudgy kid getting a free tour of the Hershey’s Chocolate factory, I spent the better part of two days spinning around the Vaughn factory in blissful circles, checking out all of the different machines that transformed colorful leather, foam, and laces into tasty, finely constructed, top-of-the-line goalie gear.

    Not only did I have a chance to learn what makes Vaughn’s pad-making process so unique, including the new carbon materials being used in their game-changing V6 line, but I also met a group of very skilled handcrafters.

    Almost instantly, I came to the obvious realization that Vaughn was nothing like a typical major corporation; it was a tight-knit family.

    I met Dan, who has been in charge of making blockers for over 20 years. Then I met Marie, who is in charge of making the gloves. I also met Jason, who is in charge of running the Gerber machines, which are used for cutting all the different types of leather. Then I met Paul and Carl, two guys that are in charge of stuffing and packing the pads. I also met Pam, who is in charge of making the chest protectors.

    Justin Goldman, Adam Berkhoel, and Mike Vaughn discussing social media
    (Photo Courtesy of: Vaughn Custom Sports)

    Finally, I was given a chance to sit down and talk with the legendary Mike Vaughn. Listening to his story and some of the history behind the Vaughn company was pretty inspiring, and it was a real treat to finally meet the man that has been constructing some of the best gear known to goalies for many decades.

    Amidst all of the intoxicating highs that came with my glorious tour of the Vaughn factory, the main purpose of this trip was to discuss the details of a new partnership and working relationship between our two companies. Alongside pro reps Adam Berkhoel and Scotty Hughes, two guys that I really admire, we discussed a plethora of different ways in which The Goalie Guild could support Vaughn’s future social media projects and endeavors.

    One piece of this new partnership is making Vaughn Custom Sports the exclusive sponsor of our all-new CoachTracker Map, which has already received a lot of positive feedback from goalies, coaches, and parents alike. As such, we will soon be adding a number of Vaughn-oriented locations to the map, including sponsored camps, retail outlets, and more.

    From there, The Goalie Guild has agreed to support a number of Vaughn’s future promotional and educational projects through their website and other interactive platforms.

    My new set: V6 2000 leg pads, a 7000 Lehtonen spec glove, and a 2200 blocker

    On a personal level, this is an exciting time for me. As some of you know, I grew up in Dallas, Texas idolizing two goalies: Chris Osgood and Eddy Belfour. Both of them were Vaughn loyalists throughout most of their careers. For that reason, I have always worn Vaughn gloves and chest protectors.

    Now I’m excited to say I’ll soon be wearing a new set of custom Vaughn pads and gloves, and I’ll be continuing to wear Vaughn gear as the years roll along.

    Touring the factory and meeting Mike Vaughn was a memorable end to a chaotic, exhausting month of worldwide travel. But the most gratifying feeling of the whole experience was being introduced to this small family of dedicated handcrafters and pro reps.

    I am very grateful for the opportunity to take this factory tour, and I’m excited for this new partnership, one that allows The Goalie Guild to promote and support the loyal Vaughn family as time goes on. I’m excited for what the future brings, and will wear my new Vaughn pads with great pride!

    To get an idea of what Vaughn is currently offering through their website and social media platforms, check out this educational video below on fitting masks! Be sure to follow them on Twitter @VaughnHockey as well!

  • PadsTracker: 2013-14 Year In Review

    As the 2013-14 NHL season comes to a close, it’s time for our annual PadsTracker Year In Review. All season long, we meticulously tracked each pad, glove, blocker, stick and mask worn by your favorite pro goalies… and the final results are in. We’ve compiled all the data into the info-graphic below to give you a visual comparison of how all the brands stacked up against one another.

    Click the image below to view the full resolution file. Enjoy!

    2014summaryweb

  • A Note from Warrior Hockey on Gustavsson’s G2 Pads

    Editor’s Note: Late last week, we received an e-mail from Warrior Hockey regarding Jonas Gustavsson and a goal he allowed against the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We asked for their permission to publish this letter verbatim in order to help them get their message out to all of our readers and followers. We appreciate them taking the time to reach out to us regarding the G2 leg pad, and thank them for allowing us to publish the same e-mail on our website.

    From Neal Watts of Warrior Hockey:

    I just wanted to write you on the topic of the recent game winning goal scored by Milan Lucic against Jonas Gustavsson. As you know there has been some chatter online that Gustavsson’s G2 Leg pad didn’t perform properly on that play and let him (and his team) down. As soon as we saw that goal, we in the Warrior Goalie R&D team were anxious to figure out what happened with Gustavsson’s pad on that play. We were all over the video of that goal to try to understand how his leg pad could have ended up in that face down position.

    I’ve attached a still frame sequence of how that play unfolded. I feel it shows pretty definitively that Gustavsson’s pad didn’t malfunction in anyway. If you look at the positioning of his leg and skate, it shows pretty clearly that he kicked his leg backwards and planted his knee on the ice with the pad face down. His toe was pointed down when his knee contacted the ice. With all his weight planted on his knee the pad could only remain pinned face down, even when he rotated his skate and leg into the more conventional butterfly position.

    I don’t think it’s surprising that Gustavsson made this movement with his leg. It was a desperation move to cover Lucic. His defence had left him high and dry. You can see as the play starts that Gustavsson adjusts the position of his left leg from a wide stance to a narrow stance(frame 2 in top sequence) just before Krug passes the puck. I’d guess this is to cover his five hole for a shot from Krug. But once Krug passes, Gustavsson is kind of screwed. He is not in a good position to quickly transition into a butterfly to cover the top of the crease. His shoulders and hips are still squared to Krug. All he really has time to do is kick his left leg back, which he did. He doesn’t rotate his shoulders and hips until well after his pad has planted face down on the ice.

    We don’t want to make a big issue of this, but at the same time this is a product that we have worked very hard on and believe in, and we don’t want to see it maligned because of a misunderstanding of what actually happened on that play.

    Click here to view a full-sized image of the goal breakdown

  • Between Two Worlds: A Full-Length Book Project

    I recently launched a new Kickstarter fundraising project. I’m doing this in order to help fund an epic summer journey, one where I’ll be attending elite goalie camps in Finland, Canada, and across the USA in order write my second full-length book.

    Goaltending is a dance born upon the bones, and for the past 20 years, I have been tirelessly studying different ways to master this dance. Now I’m preparing to travel around the world in order to write my second full-length book on the position. The topic? A comparative analysis of goaltenders and their playing styles by different regions.

    Interviewing Ryan Miller during the 2006 USA Hockey Orientation Camp

    Using my many years of experience scouting goalies from all over the world, this book will present readers with enriching chapters focused on these cultural and regional differences. I’ll also include interviews with some elite goalie coaches and a few special guest authors, drawing from their knowledge and wisdom in order to help me reveal more insights regarding these pressing questions.

    In order to write this book, I have prepared an epic journey that will take me to elite goalie camps in the following regions: Finland, Vancouver, Toronto, Chicago, Duluth, Ann Arbor, Amherst, Denver, and throughout Minnesota. I’ll travel to all of these countries and cities during the summer months, and then spend the Fall and Winter of 2014 finishing the book, which is tentatively titled Between Two Worlds: A Comparative Analysis of Goaltending Styles by Region.

    Finnish goalies are known for their ability to catch pucks!

    That’s where this Kickstarter project comes into play. The goal is simple: Raise funds to help pay for the flights needed to attend all of these goalie camps, as well as the costs I will incur for publishing the book independently. By attending these camps, I’ll be able to interview the goalies and goalie coaches needed to write the book.

    Work on the book has already started. As you can see from the video above, I have plenty of ideas and content building up on sheets of paper, and I’ve already been through the tedious book publishing process once before. I spent most of April organizing everything I need to make this book happen, including preparing the trips, booking the flights, and planning the interviews. Although I can’t commit to an exact publishing date for the book this early in the process, my goal is to have it finished by January 2015, which is one year after publishing my first book.

    This entire book project was made possible due to a special invitation I received from GoaliePro, one of the most prestigious goalie schools in Finland and the entire world.

    Run by the esteemed Jukka Ropponen, GoaliePro’s annual coach mentoring program will give me a rare opportunity to attend the camp and publish a “white paper” essay on a topic approved by GoaliePro.

    The esteemed Jukka Ropponen of GoaliePro!

    When I heard I would need to publish an essay in order to complete the program, I decided to go above and beyond the call of duty and turn my first experience working with Finnish goalies and goalie coaches into a full-blown book. In order to bring readers inside the GoaliePro camp experience, I’ll be including all of the “white paper” essays written by the other coaches participating in the camp, and give an inside look at what makes Finland the “Goalie Factory” of the world.

    GoaliePro’s coach mentoring program is being held during their main summer camp, which is June 2-6 in Espoo, Finland. During the camp, I’ll be working side-by-side with GoaliePro’s coaching staff, learning their drills, methods, and coaching systems. I will also have a chance to be on the ice with a group of pro goalies, including Niklas Bäckström, Bernd Bruckler, and a few others.

    Beyond the trip I’m making to Finland to attend the GoaliePro coach mentoring camp, I’ll also be attending these prestigious goalie camps:

    2014 SUMMER SCHEDULE:
    May 7-11: Warren Strelow Goalie Camp (Ann Arbor, MI)
    May 23-25: ProHybrid USHL Prospects Tour (MN and WI)
    May 27-June 8: GoaliePro Coach Mentor Program (Espoo, FIN)
    June 9-12: GGSU “Legends” Goalie Camp (Chicago, IL)
    June 13-16: Mitch Korn’s Goalie Camp (Duluth, MN)
    June 17-20: Elite Goalies Mentorship Camp (Vancouver, CAN)
    July 14-20: USA Hockey Select 15 Festival (Amherst, NY)
    July 27-31: Eli Wilson Elite Prospects Camp (Toronto, CAN)
    *One or two more goalie camps may be added pending funds raised.

    While I’m really excited to fulfill a life-long dream of visiting Finland and learning from Finnish goalies and goalie coaches, I’m also undertaking this project in order to help others better understand one of the most important and complex positions in sports. For those that aren’t familiar, you can learn more about me and my professional endeavors on LinkedIn.

    Click here to visit the Kickstarter project page.

  • Introducing the New “CoachTracker” Map

    Time and time again, I’m asked the same questions by goalies and parents all over the world.

    “Where’s the closest high-end goalie camp to us?”

    “Do you know any good goalie coaches in our area?”

    Thanks to The Goalie Guild’s all-new CoachTracker map, your search will soon be over.

    Click here to view our new interactive CoachTracker map!

    The CoachTracker project consists of an interactive Google map that allows you to easily locate and obtain contact information on a plethora of goalie camps, clinics, and private instructors across the globe. You will also be able to track and locate goalie mask artists, equipment retailers, and much more.

    This may seem like a simple concept, but in terms of bringing the growing community of goalie coaches and camps together, I believe this project will go a very long way in benefiting goalies and parents everywhere.

    Full-time goalie coaches are often way too busy training their students and taking care of their families to spend time marketing their companies, or trying to run full-blown websites and social media platforms. Because of this, I felt the CoachTracker project would act as a perfect vehicle for promoting all of those dedicated goalie coaches across the globe.

    As you can see, we’ve started with a basic list of camps and coaches, and we’ll continue to add more as the days roll along and the summer camps begin to take place.

    If you’re a goalie coach at any level and would like to learn more about the CoachTracker program, please contact us at any time!

  • In The Cage: Season-Closing Top-40 Rankings

    Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in NHL.com’s weekly segment, “In the Cage.” From updated goalie rankings to goalies you should keep a close eye on and much more, Goldman will be your fantasy goalie expert all season long.

    This fantasy hockey season was truly the Year of the Goalie.

    Read more →