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With the World Junior Championships starting later this month, there will once again be a lot of focus on the best young goaltenders in the game — and this could be one of the best groups in years, if not ever — and how they perform in the spotlight of the international stage.
That light will burn even brighter without NHL games competing for eyeballs, and with it comes increased pressure of being the last line of defense while representing your country.
It’s something St. Louis Blues prospect Joel Hofer knows well after backstopping Canada to gold at the annual tournament last year. When it comes to handling the pressure of a big game, Hofer has some great advice for fellow goalies but it isn’t limited to managing his own nerves; he also believes goaltenders can also help calm down nervous teammates.
Hofer, who is headed into his first pro season, talked about it while reviewing video of his gold-medal game against Russia during a webinar with InGoal Premium Members.
“It’s a huge skill to have. I try to get as many whistles as I can,” Hofer said. “Over the years, it’s been a big thing for me to have good rebound control. It just slows down the game and calms everybody down and obviously in a big situation any whistle isn’t bad for you, especially on a power play or any momentum they have, it can definitely stop the momentum.”
Hofer discussed his intent to control play while going over film from that game against Russia alongside long-time offseason goalie coach Eli Wilson, who also weighed in. As you’ll see in the video below, which starts with Hofer breaking down an in-zone faceoff against a 6-on-4 up a goal, it also included pulling one short rebound back in with his stick to cover it:
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