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Goaltending... You make the SAVE!

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GOALTENDING....You Make the Save

Goaltending requires split-second decisions for fast-breaking scoring situations. When the goaltender chooses correctly, the rewards are great.   When the incorrect decision is make, the result is highlighted by the flashing red light.  The best goaltenders are students of the game because they know the importance of understanding why offensive players react as they do.  An ignorant goaltender is one who plays with tunnel vision. The puck is all he or she stares at and that results in a lot of guesswork when a shot is finally attempted.  There are some sample situations for your to decide what to do.  You make the save.

1. A two-on-one has developed by the left side of the blueline. The puckcarrier is skating swiftly into the left face-off circle. The open forward is approaching the lower right hand face-off at a high rate of speed. Your defensemen is favoring the puckcarrier slightly while skating backward by the hashmarks.  You are just outside the left side of the crease playing the carriers angle.  The puckcarrier has fired a pass past the defenseman to the open forward by the right side of the crease You should:

A.     Dive with your stick and arms to stop the shot.

B.     Turn and execute a moving split save.

C.     Turn the body with the pass, push off and stack the pads to the post.

D.    Forget the move with the pass, yell something unprintable and slump the shoulders as the player scores on the empty side of the net.


A.     This will work once in a while, but it takes sometime for your body to hit the ice.  The puck will usually be in the net before you can get there. (Player scores)

B.     This also can work, but unless you have the legs of Robert Parish, you won't be able to kick out a shot on the far corner.  There also isn't much body in front of the net, just the skate. (Player scores).

C.     This is the best choice, by turning with the pass you will get your body closer to the shot. The player is crashing the net so hard that the only thing he can do is quickly shoot before his momentum takes him behind the net.  The stack to the spot cuts off the maximum angle and to smother the puck.  (Great save.)

D.    This should not be considered, but this reaction occurs quite often. (Player scores).

2. In trying to skate the puck out of the zone by the right boards, your defenseman has fanned on a pass and the opposing left wing has stolen the puck.  The opposing winger is the quickest player on the ice.   You are standing in a ready position by the side of the crease.  The winger cuts across the middle of the face-off circle on his way to the harshmarks. How do you play him?

A.     You shuffle across the crease and try to stay close to him.

B.     You take a couple of steps to your left and go down to fill space.

C.     You skate backwards into the crease so you can reach all four corners when he shoots.

D.    You make an aggressive gamble by executing a pokecheck and a stack of the pads.  The pokecheck is made while the player is distracted by the stack.


A.     If you are a great skater, you've stayed with him and you've forced him to make the first move. Congratulations - great save.  If you are an average or poor skater, you made a poor decision because he skated around you like a cone. (player scores).

B.     Wrong.  You made the first move and the winger went right around you. (Player scores).

C.     Wrong. You have given the player room to walk around you and room to score. (Player scores).

D.    Good gamble if you maintained an element of surprise.  The stack distracted him and your well-timed pokecheck caught him off guard. (Great save).

3. A forecheck in the left corner has beaten your defenseman to the puck and is feeding an open center by the right hashmark in the slot.  The pass is on its way to the center and the puck passes within 5 feet of you.  How do you play this?

A.     You slid your hand to the knob of the stick although the blade remained by the post.   You step out with the full stick and deflected the pass while you move towards the center. You are angling towards the players stick as you move.

B.     You hustle to the middle of the crease as you await the shot.

C.     You fly out at him in your stance and try pressure him into a bad shot.

D.    Yell for help from the #!?*# defense.


1.        You probably deflected the puck harmlessly away and if you didn't, your body was ready. (Great play)

2.        Wrong.  You're giving the center too much net. (Player scores).

3.        If you fly out at him, you are out of control and the center made an easy head fake to go around you.  (Player scores).

4.        It's a little too late for that. (Player easily scores).


So, how did you do?  Most of the choices were reasonably intelligent decisions, but they didn't all work in these examples.  Sometimes a wrong decision will work okay, but for a consistent performance you need to read and react under control and limit the options of the shooter.  You also must know instinctively what a player's options are when a shot is forthcoming.

This article was contributed by Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training


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