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Coaching the Crease

By Jessi Pierce, 01/14/15, 1:45PM MST


There really is no position quite like the goaltender. Being a goalie requires a different mindset and a different set of skills from the rest of the team.

Without a doubt it takes a special player to step inside the crease.

“No other single player can have as large of an impact on the team as the goalie,” said Kevin Reiter, goaltending coach at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. “It’s such a unique position.”

Reiter adds that too often, he notices that a goaltender’s skill development is pushed aside. On a team of 20, there are only two or three goalies on the roster, making it difficult to set time just for them.

But it’s that uniqueness of goaltending that makes it so important to know how to train and develop their specialized skills. Reiter, along with Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) coach Jeff Blashill, offer a few tips to ensure your goalie isn’t left unattended to this season.

No Experience Required: Just because you’ve never stacked the pads in the net, doesn’t mean you can’t coach your netminder. It can be intimidating to train a player in a position that you’ve never played, but it doesn’t have to be.

“A lot of reasons coaches are hesitant to coach goalies is because they aren’t familiar with the position,” Reiter said. “Most coaches feel they are implementing goalies into their practice plan by simply giving them more shots. That can be counterproductive in terms of development. Coaches need to understand the position to prepare and develop goalies more efficiently.”

Utilize your resources. Talk to your goalie, talk to former goalies in your association and check out the USA Hockey’s Goaltending resource page.

Keep it Simple: The most effective way to teach is by using simple drills.

“Obviously you’ll have to scale the drills up or down depending on your age level, but for the most part, the same simple drills can be done at every level,” Blashill said.

Easy stick-saving, glove and blocker drills instill the basic motions and ideas of goaltending. Those simple drills will make sure that goalies get a stick on the puck as much as they can to redirect rebounds. It also will help make sure they are filling as much of the net as possible with their upper body, gloves and blocker.

Set, Then Shoot: In a game you want your goalie to be set when the opposing team’s offense attacks him or her.

“I think what happens a lot of times, even in goalie-specific drills, is shooters shoot before the goalie is set,” said Blashill. “Every coach does it, I’ve been guilty of it, too. But I’m a strong believer that if you want your goalie to be set in games, then make sure their feet are set before the shot comes in practice.”

Teach your shooters to have more patience, especially in a drill aimed at working the goaltender. Allow goalies a couple of seconds to get their feet set in each angle you have a shooter coming down.

Again: Repetition is the mother of all learning and it’s the key to your goalie’s development.

“Make sure your goaltenders have the basics down,” Blashill said. “Always be working on their angles, skating, setting their feet and so on. Those are the types of things that will carry with (goalies) through their career. Work on them over and over again.”

Work the Rebounds: There’s a large portion of the game that is played solely around the net. Make sure your goalie is prepared.

“(Working the rebounds) will help the goalies develop instinct on rebounds and playing difficult situations,” Reiter said. “Additionally, non-goalies will have the chance to practice finishing plays and scoring goals.”

Crease Confidence: A confident goalie puts their team in a better position to win. Reinforce good play and help pick his or her head up after a tough goal slips in.

“The important point is to always have patience and try to instill confidence in (your) goalies,” said Reiter. “It is as much a mental position as it a physical or technical position.

“Above all, goalies need to enjoy making saves.”

Coach Your Goalie, Coach Your Team: Include goalies in team drills and make sure they get the same amount of one-on-one attention as the rest of the squad. Their performance will improve and so will your team’s outcome. Give them the attention they deserve. Your whole team will thank you.

For more drills and resources to help develop your goalies, visit USA Hockey Goaltending.

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2022-23 ATO | WEEK 3

By USA Hockey Officiating Program 09/16/2022, 6:45am MDT

QUESTIONI was a timekeeper at my daughter’s game where the referee disagreed with a "running clock" rule. I was not rude to the ref, however he ejected me from the timekeeper position. The question I have is whether an on-ice official can eject an off-ice official?

ANSWER: The on-ice officials can remove an off-ice official if they feel they are not acting professionally or within the Game Officials’ Code of Conduct of USA Hockey.


QUESTION: During a Two-Official System game, the Front Official mistakenly waves off an icing believing because the goalie left the crease then icing is nullified. The Back Official doesn't blow his whistle as he's unsure why an otherwise obvious icing is waved off. The puck never leaves the end-zone, and a goal is scored. Referees convene and decide the icing rule was misinterpreted. The goal is disallowed. Is this correct call?

ANSWER: If the goal is the result of a missed icing call (officials are 100% certain), and the puck never left the end-zone the goal was scored in, and there are no play stoppages between the missed icing and the goal, then the goal should be disallowed.


QUESTIONIf a player's jersey number is listed incorrectly on the game-sheet, is there a penalty or even a forfeit of the game if the mistake is found after the game? The player is legally rostered, and listed in the playing line-up. The roster label had wrong jersey number listed.

ANSWER: This type of roster clerical issue must be brought to the local governing body of the game (league, hockey association, tournament committee, etc.) to decide upon. Generally, there are no penalties for small clerical errors as long as the player is listed on the game roster.


QUESTION: During a game, a player used the inside of her skate blade to keep the puck under her control (by kicking the puck) and move it ahead. I wondered if that was a legal move? No one else commented on it.

ANSWERRule 627.c in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states:

Kicking the puck shall be permitted provided the puck is not kicked by an attacking player and entered the goal either directly or after deflecting off any player including the goalkeeper.

However, the puck may not be played by the so called "kick shot," which combines the use of the leg and foot driving the shaft and blade of the stick and producing a very dangerous shot.”


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The USA Hockey Playing Rules are now available as a mobile device app! Check your Apple, Android, or Windows app store to download this playing rule app free of charge.

Check out the USA Hockey mobile-friendly online rulebook application! Enter into your mobile device’s web browser to gain instant access to the USA Hockey Playing Rules (must have mobile or internet service).

The USA Hockey Playing Rules Casebook and other educational material can be found under the OFFICIALS tab at

USA Hockey Level 5 Coaches Symposium Headed To Massachusetts

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