Select Page

Coaching the Coaches: Five Ways Goals Go In

Coaching the Coaches: Five Ways Goals Go In

This is part four in a series of articles from guest author Ryan Honick, President GDI Southeast and Director GDI EAST. Coaching the Coaches looks not at developing goaltending coaches, instead it looks to provide some support for the many coaches who have little or no experience dealing with the men and women they rely on the most – their goalies. Ryan regularly visits with coaches at all levels to share his insights, a taste of which you will get from this series. 

We will next advise you on what goalies need to concern themselves with the most, and how you can easily implement this into your practice plans. The answer to this challenge is really supplying your goaltenders with quality reps of what they will see come game time. Selecting from a list of real scoring threats will do wonders to challenge them. When looking at what you can do for your goaltender’s development during the meat of the practice, when you want the goalies in the net for your players to be challenged, consider that there are five real ways goals go in, and therefore five areas that require a goalie’s attention.

“I find that creating game-like situations for our goaltenders in practices are extremely beneficial. Instead of just running through your basic warm ups and line rushes for the majority of practice, where the shooter is frequently coming down alone on the goaltender, we try to create traffic, scoring chances from passes down low, players driving the net off the half-wall, and other drills to make sure our goalies will see a lot of shots and scoring opportunities that they will face in games,” claims 2014 ECHL Coach of the Year Spencer Carbery, whom I had the pleasure of sharing a special season with this year.

Firstly, scoring chances begin with a zone entry of some kind, and these days, line rushes against are practiced and executed almost religiously. This is great for the goalie, and I see this practiced at every level more than anything else. Flow drills including any and all odd and even man line rushes against are productive for a goalie to witness. The speed, passing vs. shooting threats, as well as the newly coveted “Rebound-Shot” provide real life scenarios for the goalie to manage. Goalies should fundamentally focus on their Ice Awareness Skills and their Lateral Mobility here.

Jonathan Quick's

Jonathan Quick’s post integration has become a model widely copied in the goaltending world. Read Stars’ goalie coach Mike Valley’s take on the “reverse-VH” technique.

Now that the puck has been brought into the zone and is being worked around, a typical strategy is to attack from the goal line, whether a dead angle shot, walk out, a wrap around, or a passout. Goalie Coaches work tirelessly on this area with their students as it requires them to select from multiple technical options and is an area where they make a ton of mistakes. I see next to no work in this area in team practices. At the highest levels this has now become a focal point for creating scoring chances and one of the reasons is because of the difficulty goalies encounter in managing this area. Goalies need to fundamentally focus on their post positioning (or “Post Stances”) and how they integrate to the pipes, as well as tracking the puck visually below and around the goal line.

In Zone Offense (IZO) or sustained pressure in the offensive zone has always been a concern for the goaltender. So much emphasis is put into set plays and skill creativity from the likes of top players making for highlight real goals and no chance scenarios for goalies. Power Plays, set faceoff plays, and tired D on the ice often create this threat. Goalies have to fundamentally focus on their positioning, awareness of the five players on the ice, as well as keying in on who the best player might be, or where the team likes to move the puck for their go-to play.

Dealing with traffic is essential

Traffic in front of the net produces a wide variety of scoring chances. You can read pro Mike McKenna’s tips on dealing with this key scoring situation.

Once you’ve earned a Power Play, you are likely to set up traffic in front of the net. With lack of vision, tip, and deflection possibilities, blocked shots, and the proximity of rebounders on top of the goalie, traffic possesses a real threat to a goaltender’s game and is a problem for even the world’s best. Each year, I watch as more and more traffic causes goals to go in during the NHL Playoffs. Since the man advantage is also practiced sometimes to exhaustion, this creates a great look for the goalie. Fundamentally, the goalie must learn to “Fight for Sight” with their eyes and positioning, learning to never be blind and stay in optimal position for screens and deflections while also finding a way to control the rebound due to it likely falling into the lap of the net front players.

The last threat is one the goalie creates himself, poorly placed rebounds. The above scoring chances magnify rebounds and if a goalie couples this with their own misplaced mistakes, they can be at a real disadvantage. Be sure to send a man to the net after every shot taken just to keep the goalie honest and to produce more battles in front. Play these out with a single attempt and again, mind the pace, the next shot is looming. Goalies need to embrace controlling the puck, competing for the ones they can’t, and pushing themselves to get set for the next rep. “Control the Puck; Control the Game”. Rebound control is an art, and is essentially just playing keep-away from the players around them. As for the fundamentals of this threat, goalies have to learn to reduce rebounds and learn to get to them.

In summary; Line Rushes, Goal Line Attacks, In Zone Offense, Traffic, and Rebounds are not a goaltender’s best friend. You can easily focus on these areas with your players because they will produce real scoring chances. For the goalie, the same holds true, any drill dealing with these areas are great to practice. This is the stuff goalies learn how to handle in goalie schools. You shouldn’t have to focus your attention on what the goalie should be doing here, just putting them in an environment that provides them with a chance to summon the skills required of them to combat these primary scoring threats, is like running goalie drills throughout the practice. I like to tell my goalies that if they are strong in these areas, regardless of how they do the job, then by default, that they are considered good goaltenders. This is critical criteria for how I personally assess a goaltender when evaluating.

In our next article in the series I will provide you with an actual goalie drill and supporting video to make an example for how you can work with your goalies when designated time and space exists. What we’ll see is that it is all about building proper habits.


If you enjoyed this article, check out part three of the series.

Ryan Honick is a Professional Goaltending Consultant and is currently the Goaltending Coach for the USHL Green Bay Gamblers and USPHL Jersey Hitmen. Both of these team’s goalies won their respective Goaltender of the Year awards last season. He has previously coached in the ECHL for 6 seasons, along the way working with 4 goaltenders that have now played in the NHL. He consults regularly with College, USHL, NAHL, USPHL and Tier 1 teams within the United States. Ryan has also worked with the 2015, 2014, 2012, and 2010 ECHL Goaltender of the Year award winners, the 2014 USPHL-Elite Goaltender of the Year, and the 2011 EJHL Goaltender of the Year. Based in Washington DC, and Chicago, IL, GDI USA operates year-round and provides clients with a full gamut of programming. Contact Ryan directly for more information.

Ryan Honick
President GDI USA

C: (757) 641-9515
E: [email protected]

About The Author