Active Glove: “Kipper Catch” Versus Body Cradling
The “Kipper catch” is a technique some goalies may not be acquainted with, or perhaps they just know it by another name.
It simply involves rotating the trapper and bringing it across the front of the body to catch pucks, almost like a baseball player catches a ball. Using your glove in this fashion is something commonly attributed to European goaltenders – and even more specifically Finnish goaltenders like Nashville Predators star Pekka Rinne – because these goalie’s hands are more active compared to their North America counterparts.
When I initially learned this technique many years ago, it was taught simply as the “Kipper Catch,” which naturally suggests a link to former Calgary Flames goaltender Mikka Kipprusoff. Maybe this was linked to Kiprusoff’s habit of turning over the trapper even before making more routine saves on the glove side, or perhaps it was simply his tendency to also play with more active gloves. While we’re not aware of the specific link to the quiet Finnish stopper, the name stuck. There are a lot of reasons the technique should stick too:
First, however, let’s look at the usual alternative. The standard technique for retaining a puck shot at a goalie’s torso is referred to as “body cradling,” and is demonstrated from a standing position in this first video segment:
Timing and coordination are critical to cradling the puck correctly.
The blocking glove must be out of the way allowing the puck to hit the goaltender’s chest or abdomen. The goalie generally forms a concave angle at the waist (hence “concaving”) to absorb the puck’s force. The trapping glove is brought over the torso in a timely fashion, as the puck makes contact with the goalie, to prevent a rebound. The eyes track the puck all the way in and the head ends in a flexed position.
The naturally question is what is the advantage of the Kipper Catch over traditional cradling and puck retention?
The key factor with the Kipper Catch is that it can leave the goaltender with easier-to-execute options than with traditional cradling. Just like cradling, it prevents any rebounds and can force a face-off if desired. Some goalies may feel more comfortable playing the puck in this fashion, particularly if they have a background in baseball (just ask Rinne, who grew up playing Pesäpallo, the Finnish equivalent to American baseball).
Furthermore, the occasional shot to the blocker side can be caught with the trapper. Conventional teaching states the trapper should really not cross the body’s mid-line, and for the most part this makes sense, but under the right circumstances exceptions exist for a goaltender that is comfortable catching pucks across their body.
Another option that opens up with the Kipper Catch is to quickly get up and place the puck at the side of the net for a defenseman and a quick breakout opportunity. This is a possibility if, subsequent to a shot on net, a face-off is not forced by the opponent or the shot was taken some distance from the net. The extra distance gives the goaltender time to get up and keep the play alive.
The goaltender may wish to drop the puck to the ice immediately and position the puck with the stick to the side of the net or keep the puck in the trapper. Keeping the puck in the trapper allows greater freedom of movement while maintaining complete control of the play.
A final option, under the correct circumstances, is for the goaltender to play the puck himself. The puck is easily dropped to the ice and a pass, or a clearing shot off the boards or glass, can be made quickly. This can be advantageous to a team’s transitional game. These different options can also be executed with traditional cradling, but that arguably requires more physical moves and time.
At the end of the day, most coaches, goalie coaches and scouts now want to see more active hands from the puck stoppers they watch and work with. The Kipper Catch is simply an extension of that philosophy, one that takes it to a bit of an extreme by taking the glove to the other side of the body.
On the ice, start developing this technique from the butterfly position and have adequate distance from the student to allow for visual tracking development. Then progress to dropping to the butterfly from a standing position and, ultimately, create different scenarios to increase goaltender confidence with a variety of situations that may be encountered during competition.