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Alex Cavallini: ‘One of the most important aspects is continuing to be a student of the game’

By Justin Felisko, 06/01/24, 7:45PM MDT


Two-time Olympian and gold medalist shares advice at inaugural USA Hockey National Goaltending Symposium Expo

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Alex Cavallini often asks young goaltenders a simple question whenever she crosses paths with an aspiring member of goalie nation and the topic shifts to how their season is going.

Many times, kids will say their season is simply going Ok.  

There is then a window of opportunity for a bigger conversation, says Cavallini.

“Well, did you have fun? Did you learn something? You want to hear them say, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’

“That as a young athlete is so important. Winning is not everything, especially at younger age levels. Don’t get me wrong, I am the most competitive person, but, at the same time, you have to take a step back and be like, ‘How can I be the best I can be, and what can I learn to be better?’”

Cavallini – a two-time Olympian who helped the U.S. Women’s National Team win a gold medal in 2018 and silver in 2022 – spent most of Saturday afternoon meeting one-on-one with various boys and girls, as well as their parents and others involved in the goaltending industry, during USA Hockey’s inaugural National Goaltending Symposium.

The Delafield, Wisconsin, native spoke on a panel with fellow Olympian, Mike “Lefty” Curran, about Olympic Medal Moments and her own personal journey to an Olympic gold medal with Team USA during the USA Hockey National Goaltending Expo at the St. Paul Event Center.

The free-to-the-public event featured not only panel discussions on five different topics, but it also allowed kids to poke the brains of their goaltending idols in person, such as Cavallini, while also learning more about various goaltending products in the marketplace.

Cavallini loved to see so many girls and boys looking to learn more about the position.

“One of the most important aspects is continuing to be a student of the game,” Cavallini said. “That is something I took a lot of pride in, especially at the end of my career. I was like, ‘I am not done getting better.’

“You are never at that peak. You always want to try to climb, climb, climb. If you can continue to learn and hone in on some skills and have fun along the way – that is one of the most important aspects for a kid.”

Having fun is something that Cavallini does not want kids to lose focus on. She knows firsthand the older you get, the harder it is to enjoy the roots of the sport – and goaltending. It is easy to get caught up in the mental mind games of wins/losses, goals allowed and the pressure of the position.  

In fact, Cavallini said she and her teammates often had to remind themselves to remember why they first laced up their skates.

“As you get older and farther along in your career, you fight to find that joy. You really fight deep to find that joy. You really have to dig deep and find joy in it and not just think this is my job. A lot of us look back and try to remember what it felt like to play as a kid.

“As long as you can continue to have fun, you are going to be successful.”

Cavallini also had a coach help her with the burdens of the position during her time with the U.S. Women’s National Team. That coach was none other than Steve Thompson. Thompson was the goaltending coach for the 2022 U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team and the gold medal-winning 2019 U.S. Women’s National Team that Cavallini helped backstop to victory at the Women’s World Championship.

Therefore, Cavallini quickly said yes when Thompson, who is now the manager of goaltending development at USA Hockey, asked her to be involved at the National Goaltending Symposium.

“Steve brought me to this,” Cavallini said. “It is so cool and special to get a convention of goalies. A symposium of like-minded minds that also challenge each other and be able to get those insights into what people are seeing and feeling and how to get more goalies involved. It is so special as a community because goaltending can feel very isolated and people don’t always understand this position.

So for us to get a whole group of people in here, you have to almost remind yourself to be like, ‘Wow, everyone here is a goalie.’ It has been incredible to see all of these goalie minds come together and really create a great event.”