Recently I’ve had the pleasure of reading a recount of a game played by Al Corey, a veteran goaltender from “The Ancient Netminder” blog. I highly recommend any older and newer goalies to give some of his articles a read as they offer a lot of veteran and interesting insights into netminding. In this article specifically, Al had some issues with the opposing players, and tensions grew high.
An opposing winger decided to crash the net and set up camp in my crease, only he didn’t get stopped in time and plowed into me as I was tracking the puck. I saw him in time to brace myself and push back against him- causing him to tumble to the ice. No call on either of us from the refs. I wasn’t happy but it happens- especially at low level beer league hockey where intention and outcome sometime don’t align themselves.
However unfortunate, in this situation I believe he did the right thing. As a goalie, you must stand up for yourself, without question. Other teammates in fact should be giving you a little back up, but that’s not always the case. “I wasn’t happy but it happens” is a very fair way to put things, and again, is the right mindset to have. You have every right to be upset, however it’s not always intentional. As he states sometimes in lower divisions and leagues what players want to do, isn’t always what they end up doing due to skill levels. Accidents happen.
That beings said, to run the goalie intentionally is an absolutely gutless move. It shouldn’t even be considered by players, but sadly it is. Some see it as an easier way to success, taking a skilled goalie away from a team, while other players just don’t like that glove save you made them look bad on. Either way, there’s no excuses.
With the puck in our zone, an opposing winger again decided to crash the net without the puck but this time I saw him coming. I came out of my stance as he plowed into me, knocking me back into the post and dislodging the net. I pushed back hard with both arms. I think he went down to the ice.
Al here, once again is in the right. As stated earlier, running a goalie is a cowardice move and requires no skill to win against a team. Take their last line of defense a way and it’s smooth sailing. But to build more on that Al puts it very well when he states:
I could tell you the reasons for why I get hot when players crash the net; safety, injuries, respect.
There are absolutely no excuses for this type of play. There’s no need for it, especially at beer league level hockey. First reason alone is safety, for the player and the goalie. The player is coming full speed at a 6’x4′ net framed by steel, pegged into the ice. It’s really not a question who wins that contest even with full equipment. The posts aren’t going to feel your broken arm, leg, ankle, what have you. As for the goalie, running him over at the wrong time can be absolutely devastating. First of all, 75% of the game we aren’t focused on players, we are solely focused on the puck. Sometimes you can’t see a player coming in from the slot in front of you, let alone from the opposite side, or from the point. Secondly, all of the pressure and weight of your equipment and body is largely placed on the knees, especially for a quick Profly goalie (See my last article on what “Profly” is!). All it takes is one wrong turn, and serious damage can be done. When a player is coming in to hit the goalie, with his ankle and knee locked in place to create a push or slide, almost without question that player is going to do some damage to goalie, and unfortunately sometimes it’s intentional. I would like everyone to recall last year’s playoffs between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers, where Chris Kreider collided with Carey Price. It knocked the “hot” Carey Price and the Canadiens out of the playoffs. As for respect? Every team has a goalie. Do we do this to your goalie? No. Yet why do it to me? Probably because you can’t score, or your aggravated about some other off or on ice situation. There’s no reason for it at all. No exceptions. Some may argue “Oh it’s a hockey move/play”. No, it’s not. It’s a classless move to gain the upperhand. There’s just too much at risk, and too many injuries happen this way.
Lastly, Al goes on to reflect personally on the situation, saying he’s not sure what to think of it all, but in the long run he has every right to defend himself and states:
The morning after, I’ve got mixed emotions but in the end I’ve got a competitive streak a mile long and I’m never going to let opposing players run my net without some reaction. And when I feel I’m wronged, everyone on the ice is going to know about it- including the officials.
I personally couldn’t agree more. If no one from your own team is going to stick up for you, you have to do it yourself. You’re the last chance your team has before the pucks in the net. With one of the more important positions on the ice, it’s important that you stand your ground and play your game. There’s only so much blue paint to go around, and it’s ALL yours. Own it. If someone gets too close, you let them know. If anyone would like to see some good examples of protecting your zone, look up Ron Hextall, Eddy Belfour or for today’s goalies, Mike Smith. Sure it’s a little more aggressive, but you need to look out for yourself when the chances arise, there is just too much at stake between injuries and goals. Let me know what you think, is running the goalie still considered a “play”? Or should there be no excuse and maybe removed from the game entirely. Also, do me, Al Corey, and yourself a favor and check out his site http://ancientnetminder.blogspot.ca/, really good insight coming from a veteran goalie.