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Welcome To December’s Newsletter


portraitSuitcoat100I hope this latest issue of our newsletter finds you well, and that you are getting all set for the busy holidays.

‘Tis is the season when a number of families are reflecting back over the last year (including hockey), and wonder where the year (or first part of the season) ever went…., and of course, it is natural to wonder what the future will bring, as well.

I often remind players that in the game of hockey, as with most sports, it is important to focus on the short-term and the things that you can control, and often the future will take form by itself.

However, when it comes to hockey, and leveraging one’s skills, in order to receive an education, it is often the long-term strategic decisions which players and families make, which will determine whether one maximizes their possible opportunities.

As we begin to think about the New Year, ab=nd what us truly possible, I remind you to use your head to make such decisions, and not to allow ego to get in the way.

If you think we can help, please do not hesitate to drop us a line.

Wishing you, and your family, all the very best of this holiday season, I remain,


David MacDonald, SPAD
Hockey Family Advisor














Posted in Newsletter

Tips from the recruiting trail with UND’s Brad Berry

By Elizabeth Boger

Berry has been an assistant at North Dakota for nine years across two stints.Brad Berry knows the recruiting trail can be a grind. The second-year head coach of the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team recalled one harrowing adventure many years ago.

In the wee hours of the morning, Berry and then-fellow assistant Dave Hakstol were coming home from a scouting trip in Denver, Colorado. The roads were less than friendly.

“We hit some black ice and we went through the ditch,” Berry said. “We went through one side of the interstate and then through the other side. Then we went through a corn field and got back on the highway.”

They stopped at the nearest gas station and checked the tires and fuel levels – never mind the front corner panel that was no longer on the car. Then back on the road for the remaining 10 hours back home.

“We looked at each other and we said, ‘OK. Let’s keep going,’” Berry said.

You better believe that college coaches, who spend countless hours on the road and log thousands of miles, want to make these trips worth their while, and recruit not just the right players, but the right people.

Berry, who was an assistant coach for many years before taking over the Fighting Hawks program last year and eventually delivering an NCAA national championship in his first season as head coach, offered some advice for young players with college hockey hopes.


Be aware of body language

ad-2017-chafindoutmoreNegative body language can be an immediate turn-off, and coaches often see that as hindering that player’s development moving forward.

“Our culture is based on positivity, and playing with energy and having a team-first mentality,” Berry said. “Any time we see that body language, whether we go watch a team, or recruit, or have that kid in our program that has it, it’s immediately addressed.”


Ask questions

Coaches want to make sure incoming players will feel comfortable at their new home away from home. When talking to coaches, ask good questions about the program, players, philosophy, school and more.

Coaches also love players who ask questions about the game. It shows a desire to learn and improve and it shows you are not satisfied.


Be a team-first player

For many coaches, a powerful point shot or keen playmaking abilities mean very little if that player’s personality doesn’t live up to their skill level. It’s not just about what a recruit can take in, but what they can give as a person.

“Giving and care – those are two words we use a lot in our culture,” Berry said. “If you can give a lot, it’s going to come back to you. … I think there’s a deep belief or a deep care in our locker room that everyone has each other’s back and that we’re really team-first.”


Stay on top of your schoolwork

Be committed to your schoolwork and driven to excel in the classroom. Remember that only a very small percentage of players go on to play in the NHL. Getting a college degree will set you up for life after college – and life after hockey. But to get into college, you need to be eligible. And remember, the better your grades and test scores are in high school, the more recruiting opportunities can present themselves due to different academic standards at different schools.


How do you respond?

Coaches are very interested in how players respond to certain situations. Complaining to the officials, flailing your arms in the air after allowing a goal and over-the-top goal celebrations show that a player cannot keep their emotions in check during the game or through adversity.

You can still be an intense competitor with an even-keeled temperament. Look no further than former North Dakota standout and current Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise.


Be coachable

Coaches aren’t just excited to land good players. They look forward to mentoring them and continuing their development, on and off the ice.

“The biggest thing for me is having a role in shaping these kids’ lives to be a good person,” Berry said. “I love seeing our players go through our program and it’s a sad day when they leave our program.”

But if you’re not a coachable kid or responsive to criticism, recruiters can see that. There are a lot of really talented players out there, and for college coaches, a lot of the time their decision making comes down to character.

From the WJAC to the NHL

46 World Junior A Challenge alumni open 2016-17 season on NHL rosters


When the puck dropped to kick off the 2016-17 National Hockey League season, and it did so with 46 alumni of the World Junior A Challenge earning spots on rosters across the league.

Russia, which has competed in all 10 editions of the World Junior A Challenge, led the way with 11 alumni in the NHL, followed by the United States (10), Canada East (nine), Canada West (eight), Sweden (six), the Czech Republic (one) and Denmark (one).

The Canada West and United States contingents both included players who won gold at the World Junior A Challenge; Joe Colborne, Riley Nash, Colton Parayko and Kyle Turris for the Canadians, and Beau Bennett, Kyle Connor, Ryan Dzingel, Seth Helgeson, Vince Hinostroza, John Moore, Nick Schmaltz and Craig Smith for the Americans.

The list of alumni also included five players who earned MVP honours – Turris (2006), Devin Shore (2011), Hinostroza (2012), Schmaltz (2013) and Nikolaj Ehlers (2014) – and nine WJAC all-stars.

Twenty-two of the NHL’s 30 teams had at least one alumnus on their 23-man roster, led by the Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning and Winnipeg Jets, with three each.

In addition to the 46 who cracked the rosters, four alumni started the season on the injured list with the respective teams, and may or may not join the NHL roster once they’re deemed healthy.


Beau Bennett – New Jersey Devils (United States, 2009)
Alexander Burmistrov – Winnipeg Jets (Russia, 2008)
Drake Caggiula (injured) – Edmonton Oilers (Canada East, 2011)
Daniel Carr – Montreal Canadiens (Canada West, 2009)
Joe Colborne – Colorado Avalanche (Canada West, 2007)
Kyle Connor – Winnipeg Jets (United States – 2013-2014)
Austin Czarnik (injured) – Boston Bruins (United States, 2010)
Zac Dalpe – Minnesota Wild (Canada West, 2007)
Ryan Dzingel – Ottawa Senators (United States, 2010)
Nikolaj Ehlers – Winnipeg Jets (Denmark, 2014)
Jesper Fast – New York Rangers (Sweden, 2009)
Derek Grant – Buffalo Sabres (Canada East, 2008)
Mikhail Grigorenko – Colorado Avalanche (Russia, 2010)
Jimmy Hayes – Boston Bruins (United States, 2007)
Seth Helgeson – New Jersey Devils (United States, 2007-2008)
Vinnie Hinostroza – Chicago Blackhawks (United States, 2011-2012)
Ben Hutton – Vancouver Canucks (Canada East, 2011)
Zach Hyman – Toronto Maple Leafs (Canada East, 2010)
Calle Jarnkrok – Nashville Predators (Sweden, 2009)
Dmitry Kulikov – Buffalo Sabres (Russia, 2007)
Evgeny Kuznetsov – Washington Capitals (Russia, 2008)
Johan Larsson – Buffalo Sabres (Sweden, 2009)
Elias Lindholm – Carolina Hurricanes (Sweden, 2011)
Sean Maguire (injured) – Pittsburgh Penguins (Canada West, 2011)
Alexei Marchenko – Detroit Red Wings (Russia, 2009)
Curtis McKenzie – Dallas Stars (Canada West, 2008)
John Moore – New Jersey Devils (United States, 2008)
Vladislav Namestnikov – Tampa Bay Lightning (Russia, 2009)
Riley Nash – Boston Bruins (Canada West, 2006)
Patrik Nemeth – Dallas Stars (Sweden, 2009)
Nikita Nesterov – Tampa Bay Lightning (Russia, 2010)
Joakim Nordström – Carolina Hurricanes (Sweden, 2009-2010)
Dmitry Orlov – Washington Capitals (Russia, 2008)
Colton Parayko – St. Louis Blues (Canada West, 2011)
David Pastrnak – Boston Bruins (Czech Republic, 2012)
Brandon Pirri – New York Rangers (Canada East, 2008)
Mike Reilly – Minnesota Wild (United States, 2011)
Justin Schultz – Pittsburgh Penguins (Canada West, 2008)
Nick Schmaltz – Chicago Blackhawks (United States, 2013)
Jaden Schwartz (injured) – St. Louis Blues (Canada West, 2008)
Devin Shore – Dallas Stars (Canada East, 2011)
Brendan Smith – Detroit Red Wings (Canada East, 2006)
Craig Smith – Nashville Predators (United States, 2007-2008)
Reilly Smith – Florida Panthers (Canada East, 2008)
Cam Talbot – Edmonton Oilers (Canada East, 2006)
Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues (Russia, 2008)
Kyle Turris – Ottawa Senators (Canada West, 2006)
Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tampa Bay Lightning (Russia, 2011)
Scott Wilson – Pittsburgh Penguins (Canada East, 2010)
Nail Yakupov – St. Louis Blues (Russia, 2009)

NHL player agents call for changes to CHL’s “dirty little secret”

Tyler Benson

Several of hockey’s most prominent player agents — whose companies collectively represent about one-third of active NHLers — say the Canadian Hockey League needs to relax its policy of voiding educational scholarships 18 months after a player’s over-age season in major-junior hockey.

As things now stand, a player who finishes CHL hockey at age 19 and plays in the ECHL, the AHL, or for a professional team in Europe for three years would be ineligible — at age 22 — to take advantage of his scholarship.

Ontario Hockey League Commissioner David Branch, who also heads the CHL, says that when the OHL put restrictions on scholarships, he consulted with the parents of OHL players.

Those parents, Branch said, support the limiting of scholarships for players so that they are pressured to enter post-secondary school when they are “age appropriate.”

Branch said he was traveling and was unable to provide the contact information for any of the parents involved in the consultation process.

“The CHL’s dirty little secret is they don’t want players using these packages,” said Octagon Hockey’s Allan Walsh, whose NHL clients include Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Huberdeau. “They’re severely limiting the number of former players that can make use of their earned school money.”

Two other agents, CAA’s Pat Brisson and Newport Sports’ Don Meehan, also say the CHL should be open to changing its policy to encourage more former players to go to college or university.

Brisson and Walsh say players should be allowed to use their full education scholarships at least three years after their major-junior eligibility. Meehan said the issue deserves more discussion.

“Fair is fair and this isn’t fair,” Walsh said in an interview. “These players are not being given a fair shake and it’s time for all of us to do something about it.”

Walsh said the overwhelming majority of junior players do not advance to the NHL. “That’s who we’re talking about,” he said. “This is their life, their future. They earned this money. The CHL should give it to them.”

Major-junior hockey across Canada is facing an unprecedented time of change. Former players have sued the CHL and its three affiliated leagues, the Ontario, Western and Quebec Major-Junior Hockey Leagues, charging that while the junior hockey industry has become a huge business, most players are not sharing in the financial gains.

Besides the lawsuit, in which players are asking the leagues for backpay of nearly $200 million and asking the court to order leagues to pay players at least minimum wage, authorities in Washington state are investigating whether four teams there have violated child labour laws by allegedly paying players as little as $35 per week.

Washington’s state senate on Tuesday approved 47-0 a motion to exempt junior teams there from paying minimum wage. The bill now moves to the state house of representatives for another vote before it becomes law.

Canada’s biggest private-sector union, Unifor, meantime, has spent months lobbying the Ontario government to establish a task force to investigate the business of the OHL.

That some of hockey’s most prominent agents – rivals who all enjoy close ties to CHL team executives – are beginning to speak out in favour of additional player rights, is another challenge for Branch to navigate.

“The CHL is very proud of our scholarship package for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the number of players who leave the CHL to go on to play CIS hockey,” CHL commissioner David Branch told TSN. “The 18-month window commences at the conclusion of a players’ junior eligibility. In reality, it is a 30-month window for the majority of players save and except for a maximum of three overage players that may dress and play for a team in any given year.

“After consultation with our parents, alumni and the CIS, the 18-month rule was put into effect in an effort to ensure the players are utilizing their scholarships and accessing the educational dollars which are afforded to them in a timely fashion. The longer that a student remains out of post-secondary education, the less likely it is they will ever attend. In addition the 18-month rule ensures that our players are entering post-secondary education at a time when it is age appropriate for them. The 18-month rule ensures that more scholarship dollars are spent by our teams, not less as has been implied by some third parties.

Brisson, who represents NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby, played four years of junior hockey himself from 1982 to 1986. “Things haven’t changed much since then,” he said.

“It would be nice to see the window expand from 18 months to perhaps three years,” Brisson said. “It’d be good to see a player have the option to go back to school later.”

Brisson, who also played professionally in Europe – he says he was paid perhaps $14,000 for an entire season – said he wants changes to protect the vast majority of junior players who don’t make it to the NHL. No more than 20 per cent of players selected in the first three rounds of the NHL entry draft go on to an “actual career” in the NHL, Brisson said.

“I understand not all teams are making money in the CHL,” Brisson said. “But at the same time we’re trying tp promote education as a whole outside development. Less than two per cent of junior players have an actual NHL career with 150 to 200 games in the NHL…you become a better ambassador of hockey if you have a better education.”

Meehan said he supports the move to expand the education package window.

“Does there deserve to be some kind of change or amendment of that existing rule? It seems to be reasonable to me,” Meehan said.

Walsh said the CHL lures players away from the NCAA with a promise. The CHL sells itself as the best development league in hockey. And it tells players that if they don’t succeed as pro, they’ll get roughly one year of university expenses paid for every year they play in the CHL.

“That’s the covenant, but it’s not true,” Walsh said. “It’s a blatant, intentional misrepresentation of the way these packages operate in the real world.”

Walsh cited as an example a hypothetical case of a player who plays four years in junior hockey and then goes to the AHL, ECHL or Europe for three or four years. At 24, it’s become clear that player will not make the NHL and wants to go to school.

“Why is his CHL education package no longer available to him?” Walsh said. “He played in the CHL, he did his time and earned his education money. It’s his money. Why has it been forfeited? No one from the CHL has ever been able to give me a logical justification for this.”


Graduation Rate Continues to Shine

More than 90% of men’s hockey players graduate, per latest NCAA data.


NCAA men’s hockey student-athletes continue their remarkable academic success, posting a 91.6% NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) in the latest data, released Tuesday by the NCAA.

That single-year data, which measures student-athletes who enrolled in 2009, shows a 3-point increase from last year and significantly higher than the overall NCAA men’s sport average (81%). Only skiing, gymnastics, water polo and tennis had better single-year GSR performances among men’s sports.

“Men’s hockey student-athletes continue to demonstrate that it’s possible to achieve your athletic and academic dreams at the same time,” College Hockey Inc. Executive Director Mike Snee said. “The success of our sport in this NCAA data is a testament to these young men, their coaches, and the extraordinary institutions that they represent.”

The group of men’s hockey student-athletes who entered college in 2009 include dozens who have already reached the NHL. Among those is Boston College graduate Chris Kreider, who signed an NHL contract after three seasons in school but completed his degree last spring.

The NCAA also measures each sport’s GSR spanning a four-year period, with men’s hockey posting an 89% GSR for classes enrolling from 2006 through 2009. That marks an increase of 2 points from the previous four-class average and trails only gymnastics, water polo and fencing among men’s sports.

Men’s hockey’s average GSR from the past three years (90.7%) trails only gymnastics (91.4%) among men’s sports.

Ten schools recorded a perfect 100% GSR for the most recent four-year period of 2006-09: Bowling Green, Canisius, Colgate, Denver, Ferris State, Harvard, New Hampshire, Princeton, Providence and Quinnipiac. Seventeen more schools had rates of 88% or better.

Men’s hockey’s performance in the NCAA GSR follows similar success in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR). Hockey also leads all men’s sports in that measure, which examines student-athletes’ success in the class room and progress toward their degree. (See: April 21, 2016 release.)

Posted in Academics, NCAA, News

Two Invited to Canada WJC Camp

Freshmen Fabbro, Jost among 32 invited to selection camp for World Junior Championship team.

Dante Fabbro (left) and Tyson Jost (right) were teammates last year with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.


Two of college hockey’s top freshmen – Boston University defenseman Dante Fabbro and North Dakota forward Tyson Jost – are among the 32 players invited to Canada’s World Junior Championship selection camp, Hockey Canada announced Tuesday.

Fabbro and Jost – teammates last season on the BCHL’s Penticton Vees – were both first-round picks in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Canada’s selection camp will take place Dec. 10-14 in Blainville, Que. At the conclusion of the camp, 22 players will be selected to represent Canada in the 2017 World Junior Championship that will be held in Toronto and Montreal.

Fabbro has 6 points in 12 games for Boston University this fall, highlighted by a one-goal, two-assist effort in his last outing, last Tuesday against Harvard. The Nashville Predators draft pick leads all NCAA freshmen defensemen with 3 power-play goals, ranks tied for seventh at +7 and eighth with 29 shots on goal.

Jost, a Colorado pick, has averaged a point per game though 15 games at North Dakota (5 goals, 10 assists). His 51 shots on goal rank second among all freshmen and his +9 rating ranks tied for sixth.

Fabbro’s BU teammate, Brandon Hickey, was the lone NCAA representative on the Canadian World Junior roster last season.


– See more at: http://collegehockeyinc.com/articles/two-invited-canada-wjc-camp#sthash.R3LvqhUQ.dpuf

College Hockey Information


Here are three great videos that talk a bit about the benefits and experiences of playing College Hockey. Hope you enjoy them.

















Posted in Academics, NCAA, NHL

On to the Mental Side

By Ben Scrivens, Goaltender


Related imageWe, the goaltenders’ union, do ourselves a huge disservice with how we mentally approach our position. How can we expect anyone to take us seriously when we’re the most superstitious players around? Why should we expect anyone else to take us seriously when our coaches and teammates look across the locker room and see us in the middle of our superstitious pregame rituals? How many wraps of tape make the knobs on our sticks — 75? Will we have a bad game if there are 76? Why are we adamant that sitting in silence while we dress for the game will have any effect on the outcome? Are we serious when we insist that putting our left skate on before our right is as important to our success as having a good night’s sleep? If we knew a pilot or a surgeon who could only perform after a 10-minute shower, a bagel with peanut butter and an elaborately choreographed handshake with every flight attendant or nurse, would we trust them? Or would we look at them like they had two heads?

Photograph By Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

In hockey, there’s a myth about our position that says we are weird because we stand in the way of 100-mph slap shots. The last time I checked, penalty killers block those same 100-mph shots too. The only difference is that we goalies wear gear designed specifically to protect from those shots. Using the above logic, penalty killers should also be called weird since they’re less protected. But they’re not weird, and they shouldn’t be considered as such. We aren’t weird because of the dangers of our position. We’re weird because we have to tap each post three times and squirt water down our backs to trick ourselves into believing we’re going play well.

As goalies, we subscribe to superstitions that no one would — or should — take seriously. Patrick Roy used to talk to his posts. I think Patrick Roy would still have been a great goalie even if he kept mum. Braden Holtby, this year’s Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top goaltender (100% deserving, by the way), would be just as good whether he sprayed his water bottle in the air to get his eyes dialed in or just drank from it. (Emphasis: Not a criticism of Holts and his water droplet tracking. I understand why he does it much more than you do.)

Both of these elite talents adopted their superstitions after playing this game for decades. At some point, a quick comment to the post may have reassured Patrick that he had an ally behind him. I know that Holt’s habitual sprays of water help to reassure him that his on-ice vision and tracking is sharp. Both of these guys are phenomenal goaltenders, and my argument, which I hope is complimentary to both guys, is that I believe they would be still be phenomenal goalies without these habits. They are great despite their idiosyncrasies.

It’s not my place to tell them that these actions don’t make them better goalies. It is my self-appointed job to tell you that neither you nor I are Patrick Roy or Braden Holtby. Braden didn’t see Felix Potvin spray water and say to himself, “The best way for me to be as good as The Cat is to spray my water too.” No. Braden created something for himself that works for him. You spraying your water will not, I cannot stress this enough — will not — make you as good as him.

Photograph By Jack Dempsey/AP Images

Routines are helpful and beneficial for all athletes. But a routine is one thing and a superstition is another beast entirely. If I can make a change to my routine without it causing anxiety about my performance, then it’s still a routine and not a superstition. If I change something and the change puts me in a fragile mental space, I’m in trouble before the puck has even touched the ice. I will subtly make changes to my routine so I can control the alterations and still have the benefits of a warm-up and stretch. By making changes, I am not stuck in a “I have to do Exercise X or I’ll mentally be behind the eight ball.”

Superstitions are in no way helpful to our performance. The absolute best outcome that can result from adhering to a superstition is that we feel normal. I view superstition like I view an addiction to cigarettes. Nicotine addiction is different from almost all other addictions because the addict is perpetually eliminating the withdrawal symptoms. Smokers don’t attain the same high as when they first started smoking. If you like something new, you may use vape and buy oil pen device from Mig Vapor. Same is for alcohol, if you consume it too often you are addicted and if you are then I recommend to read more about alcohol rehab.

Mentally, superstitions are the same. Superstitions only relieve the anxiety of not adhering to the superstition — a self-perpetuating cycle. We’ll never be better goalies because of a superstition; we’ll only trick ourselves into thinking that we’re not worse.

No matter how dependent we are upon superstition, we either have the skill or we don’t. If you can play, you can play.

(I’ve written for a few hours already and haven’t even talked about actually playing a game. Superstitions are an epidemic, a scourge on our position and athletes in general, but I digress.)

Photograph By Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Many young goalies, and often their advisors, judge their success based on wins, losses and goals-against. When a goalie recognizes that she’s not going to get a shutout every game — and that the outcome of the game has less to do with her than she’s been led to believe — a weight is lifted off her shoulders, which actually allows her to play and develop. I’ve played some amazing games and lost. I’ve also played some horrific games and won.

The mental approach I’ve found that is the most levelheaded and consistent is not a pressure packed, “I have to steal this game for the team.” Rather, it’s an approach that recognizes that the goalie is one part of a larger machine. Our job is to stop the shots we’re expected to stop, and to try our damnedest to stop a couple more. We should put pressure on ourselves only to give our team a chance to win. We can’t control how many goals our teammates will score. We can’t control how many chances we will face. All we can control is what we do to try to stop each chance that does come our way (with the understanding that we probably won’t stop them all, but that we’re going to try as hard as we can to stop them all.) These are some of concepts that I keep in mind on the day of a game:

I probably won’t get a shutout, but I’m going to try my hardest anyway.

What can I control? What can’t I control? Only worry about the answers to the first question.

Give the team a chance to win.

The things we tell ourselves — and how we tell ourselves — are important to address, as well. (I’m talking about in our own heads, not to the posts. Sorry, Patrick.) My approach — which isn’t right or wrong — is to take three things that I can control that will help me stop a puck and run through a little mental checklist before periods and during TV timeouts. It’s similar to what most people do before a tee shot in golf and if you like golf then take a look at golf clearance outlet australia, they have golf equipment for good price. I limit my list to three points so that it’s easy and manageable. I keep all of my points worded in an affirmative way, e.g., “Watch the puck,” not, “Don’t lose sight of the puck.” (Plus, I don’t think our subconscious can tell the difference between “don’t lose sight of the puck” and “lose sight of the puck.”) I also make sure that my list includes things that will, verifiably, help me stop the puck. In Montreal, my checklist (which was always being revisited and revised) was;

  • Red line, blue line. Shorthand for, I need to be out of my net at an appropriate distance when the puck crosses the red line then be in my stance when it crosses the blue line
  • Top of the crease. A reminder not to fade backward into my net, creating space for the shooter to aim at
  • Watch the puck. A catchall phrase that encompasses all my visual and puck-tracking cues

Again, these work for me. I created these points for me. They are not for you to use. These points will not help you guys like they help me. It’s up to you to figure out what’s consistent in your game to help you win. Your points should be affirmatively worded, they should be about things that you can control and should only have to do with things that happen before a play is developing. By the time the puck is dropped, we should no longer be thinking because our brains are busy taking in information, and anticipating and reacting accordingly.

Photograph By Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Once the play is live, the real fun begins.

If I were to design the perfect mental skill-set for a goalie to have, it would be a mix of the talents of an All-Star hitter in baseball and a safety in football.

The best goalies in the world read shots like the best hitters in baseball read pitches. Even before the ball has left the pitcher’s hand, a great hitter recognizes the nuances of the windup and delivery, allowing him to transfer his weight and coil his body to explode through the ball. Goalies need to have that same ability when facing a shot.

Reaction time commonly refers to how much time a goalie has to move to stop a shot, starting with when the puck leaves the shooter’s stick until it gets to the goalie. If that’s the definition we’re using, then reaction time is a useless term to me. If you’re “reacting” after the puck leaves the shooter’s stick, you’re toast. The best goalies at reading releases are “reacting” as the shot is leaving the blade of the stick based on the tiny bits of information they have gleaned from the shooter’s setup, motions and the overall play.

Reading a release is the hardest part of a our job. We’re trying to gather as much information about the final destination of the shot based only on what we see from the shooter before he shoots. Is he a righty or a lefty? Is he on his front foot or back foot? Are his hands together or is his bottom hand lower down the stick? Are his shoulders and hips opened up or closed? What kind of shot is coming: wristshot, snapshot, slapshot or backhand? Is the puck in front of the shooter or to the side?

You can tell when a goalie has gotten a good read on a release because the save is usually followed by, “Oh man, she shot it right into her glove!” While technically true, the shooter didn’t have a choice about shooting into the glove or not. The shooter had already decided where her target was. She had a mental spark when she saw some room above the pad on the goalie’s glove side. That idea turned from a chemical reaction in the brain to a physical action. But the physical action takes time, coordination and movement — all things that are read by the goalie. By the time the puck has left the shooter’s stick, the goalie has already read low glove and is either in position or on her way to being in position. All this happens in only a couple hundred milliseconds — far too quick for any conscious thoughts to happen. The save feels like an automatic or instinctive response, like pulling your hand away from a hot surface or swatting at a mosquito that buzzes in ear.

(If any shooters out there are looking for a scoring edge, deception is the key. Look glove and shoot blocker. Look high and roll your wrists over to shoot low. Minimize the movements you need to make in order to get your shot off. Goalies are reacting to what you’re showing them. A big windup won’t help you blow one by the goalie if you’re telegraphing where you’re shooting. A quick, deceitful shot beats a long, heavy shot all day long. Think Joe Sakic, not Al Iafrate.)

So how does a goalie have to be like an NFL safety? Well, to compound the difficulty of reading shot-releases, players do these annoying things called skating and passing. Being able to read a play is imperative for goalies. Safeties in football have to make reads off their teammates and the other team’s offense. Reading a quarterback’s eyes and body language, maintaining a position that is a visual deterrent for the QB, not biting on pump-fakes or play-action, and confidently making tackles once the play is made are the hallmarks of a great safety. When safeties blow coverage, it’s a quick six points on the board. We, as goalies, have a similarly narrow margin for error. A blunder is tough to recover from.

Reading plays in both sports is made harder because of the speed at which plays develop. A defensive-zone turnover in hockey puts us goalies on red alert because of the unpredictability of the turnover and the offence’s urgency to convert the turnover before the defenders can get back into position. An odd-man rush, like a two-on-one, is extremely difficult to handle because we can’t commit to one player without sacrificing any hope of stopping the other player. Only playing a potential shot from the skater with the puck means we have no chance if there’s a pass. Only playing a potential pass leaves us susceptible if the player with the puck opts to snap a shot on net. Add to that the fact that we need to trust and work with the lone defender in an odd-man rush scenario makes for the most dynamic challenge we can face (second only to the unpredictable plays we call broken plays). The more moving parts and the more dynamic and creative an offense can be, the more the odds swing away from us making a save. If you remember from Part I, our goal is to be standing and set for every shot. Dynamic chances limit our ability to do that.

Anticipating a play is the only real way for us to stop shots from a dynamic attack with any consistency. But a major distinction must be made between anticipating and guessing. Everyone has seen a goalkeeper in soccer face a penalty kick. I don’t envy them at all. They essentially have to play a head game with the kicker and take a 50-50 guess on which way the ball is going. They can’t react after the kick. They have to try to read a shooter’s shoulders, hips and plant foot to make an educated guess — but it’s rarely much better than a guess. Goaltenders in hockey cannot take the same approach. A player taking a penalty kick is expected to score; a goalie facing a shot is expected to make a save.

Using our two-on-one example, we have to read all the same things to prepare for a potential shot, but must also maintain an ability to push to the other side of the net — and probably sprawl — in the event of a pass. Challenge the player with the puck too much and the pass is a slam dunk on the back door. Don’t challenge enough and the puck carrier has room to pick a shot short-side. Every goalie has a different depth at which they can play. Johnny Quick can push and come across in a full split with his chest and arms still upright, so he can afford to take more depth on the potential shot. Lundqvist is so exceptional at reading releases that he can stay deeper on a potential shot, which leaves him a shorter distance to push on a potential pass. Neither are right or wrong as long as the puck stays out of the net. A young goalie can’t pick his or her favorite goalie and play exactly like Johnny Quick or Henrik. They need to find out what works best with their strengths and weaknesses.

The bad news is that learning to read plays is difficult for a number of reasons. Two-on-ones in practice usually break down in one of two ways: Either the offensive players try to make plays they would never try in a million years in a game (because they have no one backchecking like they would in a game) or the defenseman doesn’t play it honestly and aggressively like they would in a game (because they don’t want to block a shot or mess up the drill for the forwards). If you’re a goalie trying to develop your reads in a practice setting where neither the offense nor the defense is playing like they would in a game, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. If coaches think goaltending is the most important position on the team (which I’ve heard plenty of coaches say), they should make sure their practices reflect what their goalie will actually see in a game, otherwise they’re setting their players and their team up for failure.

(By the way, don’t even get me started on the ludicrous drills like the one where a player skates a bit, gets a pass at the far blue line and skates full speed to take a shot from the slot. It’s ridiculous for the goalie and the shooter. Either the player has a breakaway or he is facing a defender who is keeping him to the outside. Who is getting better by doing these idiotically conceived drills? No one is.)

I guess I’m simply tired of hearing stories about youth hockey coaches throwing the tallest kid in net because they think big is automatically best. I’m tired of hearing stories about kids being taught that winning means they played well and losing means they played poorly. I’m tired of hearing announcers and columnists deride a goalie for a “soft” goal when (even with slow motion replays) they can’t recognize that the shooter’s release changed at the last second because of a tug on the shooter’s arm by a defender’s stick. I’m tired of goalie’s wasting their hard-earned money and valuable time on things that won’t help them stop pucks consistently. There’s a lot of blather from non-goaltenders out there who don’t understand the position and a lot of hocus-pocus talk from goalies who hurt themselves with silly superstitions.

Please don’t be like those people.

In today’s day and age, we, as goalies, can be at the mercy of the teams we play on. For people who don’t know how to properly assess goaltenders, a hardworking, detail-oriented team will usually have what appears to be a hardworking, detailed-oriented goalie. A lazy team that cheats the game tends to have a goalie that looks lazy and cheats on plays. It’s the chicken-and-egg dilemma. How can goalies read plays with any consistency when they have no consistency in the structure in front of them? How can goalies that face fewer grade-A chances be fairly evaluated when they appear to rarely make a “big save”? What characteristics really matter when evaluating a goalie’s performance? These are the questions that drove me to write my articles.

I hope I’ve helped current goalies hone in on what’s truly important in their game so they can be their own best coaches. I hope I’ve taught youth hockey parents and coaches what to look for when they’re trying to help their sons and daughters develop their skills.

No one out there has all the answers. What I love about goalies is that we’re always looking to shake things up and try something new to gain an edge over the shooter. That’s the healthiest attitude any young goalie can have.

CHL minimum-wage lawsuit involves 351 current and former players

Chicoutimi Sagueneens


A lawyer representing current and former major-junior hockey players says 351 players have registered as participants in a proposed class-action lawsuit against the Canadian Hockey League.

Details of the number of players involved in the case are included in an affidavit filed in Ontario Superior Court on Nov. 25 by Brendan O’Grady, a lawyer for the players.

O’Grady wrote in his affidavit that he maintains two websites on behalf of his law firm that have been used to compile a database of players.
“We continue to receive registrations on a daily basis,” O’Grady wrote.

CHL president David Branch did not respond to an email seeking comment.

So far, 145 players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League have signed up for the litigation, “including a number of registrants who are currently playing for QMJHL clubs.”

Of those 145 current and former QMJHL players, 18 are from the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, according to O’Grady’s affidavit.

Other than the case’s class representatives, who include Sam Berg and Lukas Walter, the players in the case do not have to make their identities public.

Berg played eight games for the Niagara IceDogs during the 2013-14 season, and is the son of former National Hockey League player Bill Berg. Walter played two seasons with the Tri-City Americans in the WHL and one season in 2013-14 with the Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL.

The former major-junior players argue the CHL’s 60 franchises are making millions of dollars from ticket revenue, corporate sponsorships and TV rights fees, and are worth tens of millions of dollars. Those teams, the players contend, should be sharing more of their profits with players.

Besides a payout for themselves, the former players want the leagues to be forced to pay current players at least minimum wage.

Western Hockey League commissioner Ron Robison, Branch, who is OHL commissioner as well as CHL president, and several WHL and OHL owners have argued that paying players minimum wage would bankrupt some franchises. Players, the leagues contend, are student athletes who get monthly stipends and qualify for scholarships following their tenure in the CHL.

So far, 119 players from the Western Hockey League have signed up for the litigation, “including a number of registrants who are currently playing for WHL clubs.”

Of those 119 current and former players, 13 come from the Moose Jaw Warriors and another 13 from the Saskatoon Blades. Twelve current and former Red Deer Rebels players have signed up.

In the Ontario Hockey League, 102 current and former players have joined the lawsuit, including 12 from the Erie Otters.


Note: For additional information on this Class Action Lawsuit, or to join it, please click here.


But What Do The Numbers Really Say About The Educational Benefits?


By David MacDonald

A couple of years ago during the Memorial Cup Series…., I heard a very interesting comment that made me think and do a bit of research, at that time….. and it is a very important bit of information that I believe that every player and every family needs to consider as they begin to consider their options……


During a break in play, the Commissionaire of the QMJHL stated “Thirteen hundred (1,300) players benefited from $5 million last year in scholarship moneys.”

It sounded as though, he was referring to the fact that there are 1,300 alumni CHL players benefiting from the post-secondary education packages offered to CHL players (amongst the 60 teams of the WHL, the OHL, and the QMJHL).

At the time, working ou the math, that would equate to about 433 players for each of the three member leagues.

The first thing that seemed unusual to me was the fact that in the CHL, there are only about 1,500 rostered players in total per season (400-450 in the QMJHL)

Assuming that the understanding to the viewer was the same as mine, which was that 1,300 alumni were attending college or university, and if each team was to graduate an average of 6 rostered players per season, one would assume that 90% of the players in the CHL go on to use their earned educational packages.

This assumption would be based on the fact that scholarship moneys can be accessed for up to 4 years following graduation (and that 6 players per team x 60 teams x 4 years = 1,440 eligible players).

After  hearing those comments, and after working with (and talking to) a lot of players and families, I thought  I would do some research and have a closer look at the numbers.

Upon further examination at the time, I came to believe that the information provided must also include the cost associated with educating their 16-20 year old current players, and so that is why the numbers seemed a bit skewed.

At that time, I estimated that each team must be educating 60% of their current team, and so then the total number was closer to 400 alumni players attending post-secondary with financial assistance from their past major junior team/league, which was more in line with what  I had always understood to be the case.

After that statement was made on television, I went looking for some more information, and I found a very informative report published by the QMJHL.

The QMJHL produced a Responsibility Report (visit http://hockeyfamilyadvisor.com/scholarships-to-encourage-education).

In that document, it was reported that 129 former QMJHL players received close to $500,000 worth of scholarship money for post-secondary education in 2010-11 (an average of approximately $3,875).

http://hockeyfamilyadvisor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ScolarshipsToEncourageEducation100.jpgIn the same document, it stated that for those same 129 players, it had committed a total in excess of $673,500 ($5,522 per player).

I was not sure what to make of that printed fact in their document.

It sounded as though the 129 players had only qualified (on average) for just over one year of post-secondary education money.

At the time, I wrote and asked if the League would like to clarify and I offered to publish their response. I received nothing.

With 129 post-QMJHL players receiving education money that year, it was made to sound as though it equated to about 29%, which would still be an outstanding number (in comparison to what I understood it to be), however….

If one then uses the information in their report…, the same 129 former players…., and divide it by the number of teams (18 during that year), it equated to roughly 7.2 players per team.

Some of these players were in their in first year of post-secondary education, some in second, some in third and some in fourth.

Considering that at any given time, each set of team alumni attending an educational institution would have been from a four year cycle it equated to an average of 1.8 players of each of those four years having benefited from a financial package to help pay for a post-secondary education, which is roughly 7.2% of any one team’s yearly roster (of roughly 25).

Where it really becomes interesting is the number of players that make themselves ineligible from ever receiving a NCAA scholarship (approximately 81% of all post-secondary educational institutions in North America that offer high level men’s hockey)

So the question then becomes, “How many players step on the ice with a major junior team, “chasing the dream”, with absolute disregard of ever being able to chase the dream south of the border, and never earn an educational dime by leveraging their hockey skills?”

If one considers that each team has a 50 man protected list, plus they invite another 10-12 “walk-ons”  to their tryouts, each team will have an average of 60 players burn their eligibility each season. This calculation shows that only about 3% of the total players who actually step on the ice each Fall and make the conscious decision (or not) to burn their NCAA eligibility, will ever earn any educational money from the major junior route in Canada.

It all sounds good, until one actually begins to dissect the numbers.

Again, if I am incorrect in any assumptions, and the League(s) would like to send any information that would dispute any of  what I have said, I will certainly be pleased to  set the record straight. I consistently make this offer in everything  I do and say, and I will often hear from them to threaten me. but am never provided any other facts. Their input is always welcome.

My  only interest is to help players and their families make wise decisions.

I  urge all hockey players to keep all options open for as long as they can in order to maximize the possibility of leveraging their hockey skills to earn an education in the future.

I constantly preach that  there is no “right or wrong answers”….., just the necessity to make a informed decisions along the way……

It is important that  players and their families know what the possible consequences ,and likelihood of future (or no) benefits will be, if they make improper decisions.

Please just don’t just read the fancy brochures, or listen to the spin doctors…. I urge you to do the math and conduct your own research as well.

One of my favourite quotes, and one of the underlying principles of my work,  is Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Our business service model involves helping players and their families make well-informed decisions, while referring to the past experiences and wisdom of others.

Unfortunately, this is the time of year, when too many decisions are made based on hype and on “ego”, and caution is completely thrown to the wind.

If you think we can help make the important decisions, please let  us know.