Tricks of Pro Goalies

Ok.. when I was reading the last article, all I could think to myself was, “Ok.. who cares.. everyone knows that.” But there is a lot that most skaters don’t know… the real tricks of pro goalies. Being an ex-Junior player, I was taught some of these tricks… and I’ve come here to tell you about some of the more obvious and some of the deviously hidden.First we’ll start off with the obvious. Patrick Roy is infamous for two cheating tactics. We’ll start with his jersey. In the mid 90’s, Roy started using over-sized jerseys… so oversized that when he stretched his arms out, his jersey made a web inbetween his body and his arm. And furthermore, when they weren’t outstretched, his jersey was cut so low that it dipped into his 5-hole area. After over-sized jerseys were limited, he still puts 3-inch inserts in the arm pit area to make a web-like formation. You can see it in a few goalies in the NHL.

His other famous tactic is using oversized pads… although you wouldn’t notice that it was, indeed, he that came up with this. If you notice his pads during the… I believe it was 1997 playoffs, his pads are obviously 34″ pads. A year later, he raised an inch. And from then on, he raised his pads up to a whopping 39″. Doesn’t sound like much, but other goalies caught on and Turek’s went from 37.5″ to an insane 46 1/2″. I have a nice picture of him in a Blues team picture and you can barely even see his head over his pads. What this over-sized pad does is protect the 5-hole in the half-butterly. I’ve noticed even in my own play that because I wore 35″ pads and I’m only 5’11”, the extra couple inches really added a lot of protection for my 5-hole. Recently, the NHL put a 38″ limit on the pads. Another pad trick is to make the pads incredibly loose. For instance, on my pads, I kept the top straps loose. Some NHL goalies don’t even have top straps. This makes the pad stiff and easier to block the 5-hole on half-butterfly saves.

I believe the most obvious trick of them all was Garth Snow’s outrageously-sized chest protector. Not only were the breast/shoulder plates specially-made to come bigger than the norm, but there were inserts made in the sides of the chest protector to make his stomach bigger. Some other NHL goalies do this, too, with the use of old mattress foam. It’s quite interesting to see the set-up that some guys have. Just like the over-sized pads, the NHL put a mandate on this, too. Just another note about chest protectors: Marty Brodeur’s arms aren’t connected to the chest protector. This is so he can move his arms better while stick handling… it’s also the reason you see him wince about 5 times a game when he takes a high shot to the bicep. That has to hurt.

Now onto the shorts. What can you do with the shorts? Good question… first of all, in the late 90’s, Vaughn introduced ‘5-hole rolls’. These were foam inserts in the groin area that would protect your inside thigh from getting bruises. In the NHL, however, some goalies started getting bigger and bigger 5-hole rolls. The NHL quickly made it known that it would not be an acceptable action. So what did goalies do? Took the 5-hole rolls out and stuck them on the outside of the hips! I happen to own a nice example from Garth Snow… can still see where the foam was taken out and inserts were MADE on the outside of the shorts. Best shorts I’ve ever worn, too.

Ok.. on to other things: skates. There’s not too many tricks with skates… it’s mostly preference between goaltenders. A few years back, world-famous goaltending coach Francois Allaire came up with a modification for goaltender skates.. adding a second blade near the back of the skate. It promoted further balance for butterfly goaltenders and was briefly used by Patrick Roy, J.S. Giguere, and a few others. For some reason or another, they ditched the idea. A second preference for skates comes at the skate sharpening. I’ll start off with the difference between regular skates and goaltender skates. Not only are the blades of goaltender skates more wide than regular skates, but they are cut different, too. Instead of a mostly flat blade or just barely a curvature, goaltenders get pretty big curves put in their skates. It makes a sort of “U” in their blade. Now of course the “U” has special designations such as 7/8″ and sorts, but a special trick that has come over from Europe is to get the inside edge smaller than the outside edge. This is a trick that even I used in Juniors. Basically, it gives much more of a push when going side to side and makes a huge difference on lateral play. NHL goaltenders who use this include Milan Hnlicka (ok, so he’s not NHL right now) and Pasi Nurminen.

Ok, so we’ll move away from equipment and go to random tricks. First, if a goalie is faced with a penalty shot or if it comes down to late in a game, you can see some goalies make a small snow barrier on the line in the goal. This is in hopes that if the puck barely squeezes through, it’ll stop it.. although I haven’t seen that happen yet. Another trick is to not have ANY snow inside the net. You’ll never see a goalie in the NHL with snow in the net. Why? Because if the puck goes in, it’ll get stuck in the snow. If there’s no snow, the hope is that the puck will go in and out so fast that no one will notice. I’ve seen that a few times. Furthermore, when the goaltender wipes his snow compact to the side of his net, that’s not just to get it out of the way. That’s in hope that while a player is attempting a wrap around, it’ll get stuck in the snow. I’ve seen that a few times in the NHL as well.

Well, that’s all for now. Hope I’ve shared some new information with you!