Loading the Post
Guest article by Sean Moloney
Loading the post (also called the One Knee Down, or the VH Position.) is a very effective modern technique that is very useful in today’s game. It is a very versitile, efficient technique that has become a very important tool in many Goaltenders games, helping them be more successful in certain game situations. Recently, However, I have seen too many Goaltenders, including at the NHL level, Giving up goals because of misuse of the technique, or technical errors in the fundamentals of the move. Even worse, it is the same mistakes I see repeated over and over. In order for you to avoid these mistakes, I will address the most common problems we see.
First, and this is the one we see most often, is Understanding when to use the Load. I know it sounds simple, but we see more goals because a Goaltender uses the technique in a situation where it simply will not be effective. Our Philosophy at my Goalie school is NEVER LOAD ON ANYTHING HIGHER THAN THE BOTTOM OF THE CIRCLE. I have seen several NHL Goaltenders recently give up goals on shots from the face-off dot or higher where they tried to execute a load as save selection. The Load, in general, is a Shot Preparation technique and it’s effectiveness as such has led it to be misused and overused. The main benefit of Loading is coverage, and maintaining that coverage in a tight, lateral push situation. But in the Load position you must remember that there is a point on the ice where that coverage, especially vertically, is lost because of the distance of the puck from the net. Also, the body position of the Goaltender in the Load is one that does not maximize net coverage if the puck is not at a proper situational distance to utilize the technique. Therefore, to use the Load on anything other than a tight, sharp angle shot as save selection is certainly not advised. Loading is only beneficial on anything lower than the bottom of the circles, including behind the goalline for potential passout situations. Never on anything higher.
Second is compactness. Coverage is the foundation of the Modern game, and Loading the Post is no exception. Just as with a good Butterfly, Compactness is essential to good execution of the technique. In the NCAA Championship game, the Goaltender from Miami, OH, gave up a goal in a Load position that allowed Boston University to comeback from 2 goals down and win the game in OT. He failed to achieve compactness in his Load position, and the puck squeezed through the hole. The announcers incorrectly came down hard on him for Loading, but his decision was correct, and it was a situation where the Load should have been very effective and produced an easy save on a good chance. It is very important that when you load, you keep the elbows in tight to the torso, the post leg firmly against the post, and the on-ice leg on the ice and the knee in tight to the post leg pad. Having this compactness will not only prevent any pucks finding a way through you, but it will also allow explosiveness in the event of a pass or player carrying across. It’s also very important to note that you should never Load the Post without actually being ON the post. Martin Biron of the Philadelphia Flyers gave up a goal in OT of the Playoffs last season to Bill Guerin of the Penguins when he attempted to load without any integration of the post, and Guerin slid the puck short side. Obviously if you post leg in the load isn’t on the post, there is no coverage short side between the post and the pad.
Loading the post is a vital technique in the modern Goaltender’s game. And like all other fundamentals, it needs to be executed properly and at the right time. If you do that consistently, you will stop more pucks, and win more games because of it.
|Sean is the Goaltending Coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (ACHA DI Hockey) www.iuphockey.com and the Director of Building Blocks Goaltending www.buildingblocksgoaltending.com|