WHL Full-On Goalies Documentary Header Screenshot“Goaltending … it’s the jaw dropping save … it’s the flashy equipment and slick paint job … its an up and down mental battle that never ends … all eyes are on you … you are the last line of defence and the difference between a lengthy playoff run and an early exit.”

That is the narrative, spoken over beautifully shot footage of game action, practice drills and behind-the-scenes preparation, that opens WHL Full-On – Goalies, a 24-minute documentary on the puck-stopping position that was part of a series put together for Shaw Cable as part of continued efforts to promote their live game coverage of Western Hockey League games across Western Canada.

The goaltending episode, which originally aired in late June and is now available to watch in its entirety online (full video below), focuses mainly on three goaltenders – Calgary Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit of the Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL veteran Cam Lanigan of the Medicine Hat Tigers, and rookie Coleman Vollrath of the Victoria Royals – at different stages of the WHL season to discover what makes the goalies a unique breed of athlete. It doesn’t take long before viewers are also introduced to their goaltending coaches as well, giving us the sense this is going to be a lot more than the typical lip service look at the toughest position in hockey.

That’s because the filmmaker behind it, Joe Stephenson of RX Films, is also a goalie. He even played in the WHL in the mid-1990s, and his knowledge of the position shines through in this unique and entertaining look at it.

“The goaltender episode was special to me because I played the position in the league for the Red Deer Rebels and Calgary Hitmen,” Stephenson told InGoal Magazine. “It was a lot of fun revisiting the position and utilizing some my own experiences to help drive the direction of the content. … The position has changed tremendously, primarily because the athletes are much better. Today’s goaltender is bigger and just as fast. One of the big reasons I feel are the year-round, dedicated goaltending schools that are out there now. These guys are former goalies who have turned the position into a science.”

Stephenson’s film takes a good look at that evolution, with coaches like J.F. Martel of World Pro Goaltending and the Medicine Hat Tigers, and Dustin Schwartz of OR Sports and the Edmonton Oil Kings talking about those changes and importance of good practice habits in the modern game. Stephenson’s own evolution to filmmaking has benefited from his experiences dealing with the stress and challenges of playing between the pipes.

“Being a former goaltender helps me remain calm, think clearly and make good decisions,” he said. “Top goaltenders are as mentally strong as they are physical. My profession can be a bit cut throat with not a lot of positions available, similar to goaltending with only two spots on a team. You have to be diligent, creative and make the most of opportunities when they present themselves.”

There is plenty of mental advice from the goalies in the WHL Full-On documentary, as well as some great gear and mask talk, which is why the rest of us goaltenders can only hope Shaw Cable chooses to bring the series back next season. Either way, Stephenson will continue working on athletic documentary projects, whether short features for the web, or long form for television.

“I’m just a former tender trying to make his way in the world,” Stephenson said with a laugh.

Judging by this goaltending documentary, that won’t be a problem. Before you enjoy WHL Full-On – Goalies in its entirety below, be sure to check out more of Stephenson’s work on the RX Films website:

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9 Responses to WHL Full-On Goalies: Watch Puck-Stopping Documentary

  1. Ian Wotherspoon says:

    An excellent film that I highly recommend all goalies should watch. I would also recommend that anyone who is interested in working with goalies in a teaching and/or coaching capacity watch this film as well. There is more to learn about goaltending than in any other position and those who choose to play this important role must have the best of instruction possible and this film will show you this. Joe Stephenson has done a superb job in making this film which covers pretty much everything about playing goalie and being the best goaltender you can be, but this can only happen with good coaching and goalies need a coach just like the forwards and defence.

    Goaltending has always been the most important position of the team but only recently are people realizing this fact. Goalies, for the most part, need as much if not more instruction than every other position on the team, and this film teaches you that. Goalies need to be taught the proper way to play goalie right from the start. From the day they first strap on a pair of goalie pads. This means they need goalie coaches who know how to teach and can show them how to play the position of goaltender.

    A note from me for all head coaches: PLEASE watch this film and before the season begins make sure that you have a competent goalie coach for your goalies, remembering that they are the: “LAST LINE OF DEFENCE.”

    After coaching goalies for over 35 years I can now feel that all those who choose to play this important position will be in good hands. I say this with the knowledge that there are people like Joe Stephenson who will continue to make films like this one that will help goalies learn what they need to know about being a goalie. I also know that within the coming year we should have a Certification Program for Goalie Coaches which is long overdue. I know that I was not alone during all the years I coached goalies because there were others just like me who never had the material to teach us how to instruct and/or coach goalies. There were very few books and even less videos. As time passed, more books were written and more videos became available. Today, we have the Internet and there are endless sites you can visit with all sorts of DVDs to choose from. There are also places you can go to learn how to prepare mentally (thegoaliesmind.com) which is a very BIG part of playing goalie as was shown during this film. I can now say that I feel much better about retiring from being a goalie coach than I was when I retired five years ago, and I know that this film will go a long way to ensure that there will be goalie coaches to coach goalies in the future.

  2. mike says:

    I don’t see the link or a way to watch the video. Am I missing something?

    • Ian Wotherspoon says:

      Mike, The first time I opened the email I couldn’t find it either so I closed everything and began again. The second time was much better but you have to scroll quite far down before you run into it. The size of the video is approx. 25.5cm x 12cm which I trust will tell you that you have found it.
      If this doesn’t work you should go back to InGOAL and ask them.

      All the best.

  3. Brett Silver says:

    Great video. Lots of nice memories; especially, the equipment talk. I can still remember opening the huge box from Great Skate with the Cooper GP 95’s and, for the first time, feeling myself a netminder. Standing between the pipes can be a lonely feeling, but there is nothing like being a member of the Goaltenders Union.

  4. Kevin Woodley says:

    Mike, video is at the bottom of story, just scroll over it and the play button should appear in lower left. There is also an option once it starts to enlarge to full screen. worked on every browser we tested, so let us know if you are still having problems. Thanks, Kevin Woodley

  5. Dan says:

    nice little show, maybe someone who doesn’t frequent sites like this one would get more from it

  6. Jonah says:

    Awesome video. I think forwards and defenseman of any level need to watch this to understand what us goalies go through night in and night out.

    • Mike says:

      This is a good film, and more people in hockey should see it, as well as learn more about goaltending in general.
      That being said, I cringed immediately when the first scene trots out the ol’ standby, goalies are weird, a little off. This just perpetuates the notion that the goalie is in his own world, not a normal part of the team, not a regular hockey player. As other articles on ingoal have pointed out, this cliche just lets too many coaches avoid the goalie and any effort to train and incorporate the goalie into a total successful team effort. Not at upper levels of course, but certainly at youth and surprisingly far into high school and beyond.
      It may be not as interesting to some, but better to open the film with the footage from 17 minutes in, about the hard work and highly developed skills of both the goalie and the goalie coaches, i.e. the modern goaltender.

  7. I start the video then it gives me a media error notice. Is the site or video down? Is vimeo compatible with playbooks?

    I need to see this video!!!

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