No Red Lights: Hockey: Using the Stick... (cont) - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

Using the Stick... (cont)

The reason, I believe, that poke checks are underused is because of two reasons: 1) Goalies are trained to react to forwards, therefore, they are focused on their movements or on making a butterfly save. And 2) every goalie has at one point been burned by a bad poke check. I say that very definitively - if a goalie has not been burned by a bad poke check, they have not been playing long enough. Even the best get burned. For some reason, this pain remains with the goalie and can prevent a goalie from attempting to do a poke check, even when the situation calls for one. I think the pain remains because of the first reason - goalies are trained to react, so the aggressive behavior of a poke check is scaled back. The goalie reverts to their strengths and fundamentals: stopping pucks not preventing shots.

But I digress - back to the topic at hand - being efficient by using all the goalie's tools. I argue that the best use of the poke check is the short poke check. It's a quick move, which does not leave the goalie exposed for a long period of time. When the stick leaves its home (in front of the five-hole), the goalie is incredibly vulnerable. But because the quick poke check does not take much time to execute, the goalie can still go down in a butterfly or make a kick save (this is if they are still balanced and have not shifted their weight when doing a short poke check)...and this brigs me to the next point.

Second: the goalie does not have to be off balance. The goalie should not lunge forward for the quick pokecheck. Lunging forward would mean that the goalie's weight is now redistributed to their toes. This would prevent the goalie from moving with the forward if the poke check misses. By maintaining good balance, the goalie can still react with shuffles of butterfly slides. And lastly, the quick poke check is surprising. Because the goalie does not have to move their hand to the top of the stick, the forward cannot tell when the quick poke check is coming [this is called telegraphing - when telegraphing a move, you are showing other players what you are doing. Forwards telegraph passes by looking right at a player and then making an obvious pass]. The element of surprise may prevent an unprepared of under-skilled forward from getting a shot on

In conclusion, use your stick! As a goalie, your stick should be your best friend (next to your defensemen of course :) It allows the goalie to be aggressive and to prevent shots. And of course, there are always other benefits this post does not mention -- inteecepting passes and clearing rebounds.