Eric Comrie: What I learned at World Championships
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Eric Comrie was with Team Canada at the recent 2017 IIHF World Championship, and kindly agreed to share his experiences overseas while taking part in his first non-junior international competition for Team Canada. His six diaries from the event contained some great insights on the position, including a great in-depth look at his game-day routine, so now that he’s back home getting ready for next season, Eric thought he’d wrap up the series with one final entry. We hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look from one of the top young goalies in the game today!
Sorry this final installment from the World Championships took so long, but after losing the gold medal game to Sweden I really wasn’t sure what to say, other than championships should not be decided by a shootout. We played great, it was a great game, both goalies were fantastic and then you lose in a shootout … it just shouldn’t happen that way, not for the gold medal. As heartbreaking as it was I still feel so fortunate to get to be there and representing Canada is always a dream for me and I am so lucky to come home with a silver medal is an honor. And even though I never got to play in a game, I also come home a better goaltender for having been through the experience at the World Championships.
The biggest thing I take away is the shooters. Facing those guys in practice, you see how skilled they really are, how good their hands are, how quickly they get to rebounds. They pounce on every single mistake you make and if you go even a little bit early on their shots or their releases, they are so good they see that and can adjust their shot to another place. They are so good at reading the goalie and seeing what they are going to do and adjusting to that. I think that’s one of the biggest things is making sure you are staying patient and not showing them what you are doing first and letting that puck come to you.
I’ve played two seasons in the American Hockey League and there are great shooters there, and I’ve been to NHL camps and had a short stint in NHL this season, including my first game, but a lot of these guys on Team Canada at the World Championships were NHL All Stars, they’re playing top-line minutes and power-play guys. You looked down our lineup and Claude Giroux has been one of the NHL’s best players for a long time. Wayne Simmonds, how many goals has he scored in front of the net? You have Brayden Schenn who led the league in power play goals this year. Nathan MacKinnon has an absolute ridiculous shot. Matt Duchene’s hands when he comes down on breakaways. Ryan O‘Reilly has become one of my favorite players to watch. His game is so perfect, he is always in the right spot, his hands are really good, he’s got this great little half slap shot that he does and down low, around the net, when he is walking out from behind the goal line you have to be so patient on him and really respect his shot because he can flick it and get it up so quickly, it is unbelievable some of the hands those guys have.
That’s experience you can only get by living it. My goalie coach, Lyle Mast, and I talk about it all the time, that experience is the biggest thing and one of those things you have to live. You have to go to the AHL and get that experience, then you have to make it to the NHL and get that experience, and the World Championships were part of getting that experience and trying to get better. You don’t know what it is like until you face it, until you see how patient you have to be, until you see how good their shots are.
You have to see it. Your brain has to adjust to that speed through those experiences. So even if I wasn’t playing, getting to see those shots in practice and at morning skates was a big part of adding that next step of experience.
Not only that but I also got to work with Sean Burke, who has been a great goalie coach for a long time and was a really great goalie in the NHL and he’s a smart guy and just being around him and, I mean our management staff was Ron Hextall and Sean Burke – you don’t get much better goalies than that. Sitting with those guys, talking to those guys, I watched every game with those guys and listened to them talk about goaltending, they are such smart guys and I could just soak up as much knowledge from them as I can. The talked about how important hands are, they are both really big on movement and just how important movement and rebound control are. It’s funny to keep saying those things over and over again but you look at guys in the NHL and that’s what they are so good at, they have great hands, they move great and they control the rebounds better than anybody else.
All that experience was also a reinforcement for me that I knew the adjustment I had to make and I was able to make it. I wasn’t just getting beat and wondering why. I felt I could have played there. We had two great goalies and they did awesome jobs, they both played unbelievable but I really felt like I belonged there, I wasn’t out of place. I felt like every practice I made a lot of saves. I understand the process of a goalie but I feel like I can get there and I can do that, I feel like I am ready for that challenge. I just have to keep working hard and not take anything for granted. Being there reinforced that.
Thanks for following along,