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Learning and Reflecting A Focus At USA Hockey Goaltending Symposium

By Justin Felisko, 05/31/24, 8:45PM MDT


Inaugural Event Offering Lessons And Guidance To A Variety of Goalie Enthusiasts

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Scott Clemmensen wiped away a bead of sweat off his forehead Friday afternoon inside TRIA Rink and paused to catch his breath.

It wasn’t even 3 p.m. and the director of goaltending development for the New Jersey Devils had already quite the busy day.

Clemmensen had just gotten done leading an on-ice coaching demonstration for the 150-plus attendees at the inaugural USA Hockey National Goaltending Symposium with Brian Eklund, the goaltending coach for the Devils AHL affiliate in Utica, N.Y.

A few hours earlier, Clemmensen had appeared on a panel with Phil Osaer (head of goaltending scouting and development for the Detroit Red Wings) and Jared Waimon (goaltending scout for the Tampa Bay Lightning) to discuss what makes a good goalie coach.

“Putting a symposium together like this, and getting as many goalie minds together in one spot is great,” Clemmensen said. “The knowledge that everybody is instilling and taking in. There is so much great conversation going on.”

Friday was the second of the four-day symposium taking place in St. Paul, and Clemmensen will be joining a panel at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 1, about elite goalie habits during the USA Hockey National Goaltending Expo.

The free-to-the-public event goes from 12-6 p.m. at the St. Paul Event Center and will feature five panel discussions, including one on Olympic Medal moments with Jim Craig (virtual), Alex Cavallini and Mike “Lefty” Curran.  

RELATED: Learn More About the National Goaltending Symposium

Despite Clemmensen being an avid contributor this weekend as a presenter, he is in fact also absorbing every piece of knowledge possible from the other goalie gurus, coaches and volunteers at the symposium.

“Even for a person like me that is involved at the highest level in the NHL, to hear viewpoints and different things and aspects from all kinds of people at all different levels is good for me.

“There are a lot of people that have that knowledge that go to a symposium like this. That is one of the benefits, you learn so much now even though you played.”

One of those people who stuck out to Clemmensen was Maria Mountain. Mountain is an exercise physiologist, speaker and dedicated goalie training consultant who has trained Olympic gold medalists, world championship gold medalists and Stanley Cup Champions.

Mountain presented for 45 minutes on Training Goalies for Durability and Consistency, and one thing she spoke about was the value of having three goalies on the ice at a practice, if possible.

“She explained sometimes goalies manage their energy levels and their pace in practice based on the fact that they are just trying to survive practice vs. being involved,” Clemmensen said. “It is an interesting viewpoint to take in. Brian (Eklund) and I talked about it for 30 minutes or so at lunch afterwards.”

The inaugural USA Hockey National Goaltending Symposium is similar in a lot of ways to USA Hockey’s Level 5 Coaching Symposium, and has been a goal for Steve Thompson, USA Hockey’s manager of goaltending development, and others in the goaltending community.

Now that the symposium has finally become a reality, David Lassonde, USA Hockey’s national goaltending coach, said the event has already “exceeded” his greatest expectations.

“It has been great,” Lassonde said. “Steve has done a great job of organizing the event. I like the fact that there has been a gamut of speakers to touch on all aspects of goaltending. I am looking forward to what the next day-and-a -half brings. As we continue to develop our coaches around the country with our bronze, silver and gold levels (of education), I am looking forward to what our gold candidates present and what they are going to offer.

One aspect of this year’s symposium is presentations from 10 students looking to become USA Hockey gold-certified goalie coaches. The group has been working on individual year-long projects and will be presenting/defending their findings to those in attendance throughout the weekend.  

“Much like we have encouraged all the participants here, this weekend is about collaboration, growth, and learning,” Lassonde said. “So far, all three of those boxes have been checked in what we have done.”

Lassonde said it has been great for so many aspiring goalie coaches to see the likes of Clemmensen and U.S. Hockey Hall of Famers Mike Richter and Ryan Miller participating in the symposium.

Having elite athletes be open to growing and learning sends a great message of everyone can still learn something new no matter how experienced or educated they are.

“The guys honing their craft or executing their craft at the highest levels of hockey have decisions to make with their free time, and they could easily say, ‘eh.’  But they want to give back, and it is important to recognize if they can do it, why can’t we do it at the end of the day,” Lassonde said.

Some of the sport’s top minds from men’s, women’s and sled hockey have all descended upon St. Paul to help teach, network and learn more about one of the most unique positions in sports.

Lassonde said that he is hopeful all of those in attendance will take what they learn this weekend to help grow goaltending at all levels.

“We want everyone to leave here passionate about goaltending with a real excitement about the future of the position,” Lassonde concluded. “Our hope is they will go back into their community and talk about the value of the event. If it is not something we are going to do on a national level every year, it would be great if this type of event could be held at the district levels. It is important for those people at the grassroots level to be engaged, enthused and energized about what we are trying to do.

“USA Hockey relies on them to not only grow the game, but to help grow the position.”

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