In the modern game, with the front of the net increasingly clogged with both attacking and defending players, goaltenders are forced to fight to track the puck. They must make accurate reads from some of the subtle cues they are able to pick up from shooters when the puck is hidden from full view.
InGoal was on the ice this summer with Gold in the Net president Perry Elderbroom and long time student David LeNeveu, who walked us through one of his favourite drills, something they called a ‘hard reads drill.’
“It’s like a puck moving through a screen – through a defenseman’s skates or another forward’s skates,” LeNeveu said. “It’s really hard to pick up. You’re trying to pick up on the player’s body movement and all the little intricacies that you see over the course of your game. You have to recognize if a player is going to make that pass or shot. You have to identify early in order to make the proper save because if you don’t pick it up, or make the wrong read, it’s an open net every single time.”
Elderbroom sets up two nets – elevated using pucks doubled up with duct tape – wide in the zone. The nets provide the screen that makes it nearly impossible for the goalie to track a puck as a shooter carries it behind, yet show enough of the shooter’s body so the goaltender can read small signals a player gives off with his stick or body. LeNeveu says those are critical.
One puck carrier comes in over the blue line and circles around and tight to the nets to disguise the puck. The player has the option of shooting as he emerges from behind a net or fire a hard pass under the net without the goaltender seeing his release.
A second player drives the net ready to pounce on a rebound in the event that the puck carrier shoots, or ready to take a pass for a back door opportunity.
“If the player has the puck tight to the net, you can’t see it,” LeNeveu said. “The shooter has to disguise it because if he’s just going to take a shot, every goalie you know can read that. The idea is to make it very hard for a goalie to make a read and that increases your ability to read pucks when you come into a season.”