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Carey Rie looking down ice close up

Thatcher Demko photo: Derek Cain, Icon Sportswire

by Kevin Woodley with Ian Clark

We’ve been teasing the final stage of this Hand in Support Drill series featuring Vancouver Canucks star Thatcher Demko and goaltending coach Ian Clark since we introduced it.

As many of you will recall, Part 1 featured an image of Demko and Clark sprawled out on the ice at the side of the crease, in what many would call a desperation save situation:

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We promised at the time to share the keys to what was very purposeful work breaking down the keys to giving yourself the best chance in situations like these, and Clark delivered.

“You can refer to the term desperation but there is also logic behind how we build our coverages, and one of the great indicators of high goaltending IQ is the selection of coverages that happens under duress in a critical moment,” Clark said. “What order, in a critical moment, are we going to cover? The logical order again is middle always, we then cover low, we cover flush, we lengthen that flush coverage as needed, we go vertical, and we go close. To be able to execute that under pressure and duress in a critical moment, you have to practice this stuff.”

As you saw in that video above, there are keys that Clark reviews with Demko during the drill, ways to ensure he maximizes that coverage by positioning his body. Clark walks us through them in a Zoom video below, but as you can see above, one of the keys is a bent lead leg, which as Clark demonstrated, immediately improves Demko’s reach compared to a straight leg in part because it allows him to use his other arm (in this case, the blocker) to elevate his torso.

“It extends the length of my vertical-close coverage,” Clark said.

Watch them go to work on the blocker side now and see if you can spot any other keys:

As you’ll hear Clark explain below, the positioning of the lead-side skate is also important. Any guesses as to why? Clark also walks us through the mindset behind when to drop the stick on that blocker side, as well as some additional tips about glove positioning, and a couple of great analogies featuring Dominik Hasek and Tiger Woods in this Zoom review of the drill:

Did you guess the importance of the skate being outside the post, and hooked up against it before listening to Clark? It makes perfect sense as a way to properly secure that priority coverage along the ice, which is something Clark re-iterates at the end of that video.

It’s also a great reminder that, for all the invaluable tips about how to extend and maximize that hand in support coverage in these seemingly desperate moments — and another reminder that patience is an important part of that in order to avoid unnecessarily opening holes between the arm at the pad (note carefully how Demko positions his glove) — this three-part drill series is always about prioritizing the way we build our coverage in these moments.

As Clark has outlined several times in these articles, the order is important:

  • Cover middle
  • Cover low
  • Cover flush
  • Lengthen
  • Cover vertical


As for extending that to these otherwise desperate moments, why not practice them?

“A lot of goalie coaches like to do a lot of technical work but the game is too dynamic and too unpredictable to not fill out their toolbox with other important components,” Clark said.


More from Ian Clark and Thatcher Demko:



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