No Red Lights: Hockey: Sticking It To the Forwards (Behind the Net, Part III) - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

Sticking It To the Forwards (Behind the Net, Part III)

In my first two articles on behind the net play (Part 1: Movement; Part 2: Dictating the Forward), I reviewed the 1-2-3-4 technique of moving behind the net and how to control the forward's options, respectively. The last but not least topic in this succession is how to aggressively use your stick to frustrate forwards. When you are hugging the post in your net, the only possible way to show an aggressive stance is with your stick. Your body is tucked inside the post; maybe your glove is hovering just outside the post; but your stick can cover a passing lane. This passing lane can prevent an easy-goal (if that pass gets made, the goalie must rotate and square-up 180 degrees from their hugging the post position -- a very difficult save indeed). This is a very valuable tool because the goalie can be aggressive without giving away a freebie.

Covering the passing lane: When covering the passing lane, the stick obviously needs to be on the ice. You want to cover as much ice as possible so it is important to have your stick parallel to the goal line (or at least perpendicular to the the angle of the puck). The safest way to use your stick is to have the heel of your stick blade tight against the toe of your skate. By having the stick pressed up against your skate, you ensure that the forward cannot bank the puck off your stick and re-direct it into the net. Many tricky and skilled forwards may attempt this shot, so don't be fooled! The puck can sneak into the net from many different angles, and forwards may still be dangerous even if they are behind the goal line.

Personally, I liked to extend my stick farther out and closer to the net a few times so that the forward knows that I have range. For the unsuspecting forward that is not prepared to see space taken away, this may have worked. They may have been looking to pass the puck in a shooting lane, but then saw that I had taken away the opening. For other forwards, this may have worked in their favor. Maybe they were looking for a passing lane that I had my stick in and, when I moved my stick, were ecstatic to see me move my stick out of it. These are all options you need to weigh but should be aware that they are available.

Besides stick position, it is also important to note when you should have your stick blocking the pass. The simple answer is always. Even when you are not looking (say you move your head to follow the player behind the net), leave your stick in the passing lane if you are not moving. When you move post to post, you will have time to move your stick into position. But keeping the stick still on the outside of the net while you are still on the post, may come in handy. You do not have to be looking at the pass for the puck to hit your stick. These no-look saves are what can save you from an in-tight goal, which you would only see when the Ref is taking the puck out of the net.

While this is harder than it sounds, once you train yourself to keep your stick in the passing lane at all times (when hugging the post), you will begin to reap the benefits. Being aggressive with your stick by keeping it in the passing lane, take discipline. Remind yourself every time you are on the post that your stick should be useful. If you never waste an opportunity to get into the forward's head, you will begin to control your game.