Upcoming Events

Ambition Unlimited Winter Session 1, Saturday, October 19th @ East Coast Varsity Arena 800am to 900am


Footwork and Fundamentals Session, Saturday, October 26th,@ East Coast Varsity, 800am to 900am 



Weekly Summer Session, Saturday, June 22nd,@ Cole Harbour Place, 900am to 1000am 


Weekly Summer Session, Saturday, June 29th,@ Cole Harbour Place, 100pm to 200pm 

Ambition Unlimited Spring Session 6, Sunday, May 26th @ East Coast Varsity Arena 800am to 900am

Book Recommendations

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Goalie Quote of the Week

A warrior is worthless unless he rises above others and stands strong in the midst of a storm." 

-Yamamoto Tsunetomo



Reboot for Ambition Unlimited

Dear Goalies and Parents,

How has everyone's summer being going?  I'm gearing up for a very busy late-July and August.  This will drive me right into the new 2016-17 season.

During this relative down time from June until now, I've been working on revamping my Ambition Unlimited program.  As some may remember, Ambition Unlimited was a "pay as you want" goalie development sessions.  The program has some limited success and helped support charitable causes like the Children's Wish and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.

Only Limited By Your Ambition!Hopefully through my work and enthusiasm, you might sense that goalie coaching is a passion for me.  I love the game, the position (a game within a game), and helping young people develop their skills and get more enjoyment out of the game.  I've also come out very publicly about some the issues I have with challenges of goalie development locally and across Canada.  There are two major ones and I'm going to call them out:

  1. Most minor hockey associations (from the local to the national level), have for years received money from goalie parents since the history of the organized youth sport, but have offered little to none of the support to their goaltenders.  Essentially, it has been a case of "taxation without representation" which has been the catalyst for revolution before.  A lot of individual teams do earmark some funds to pull in private goalie training.  Unfortunately, the burden in Canada for parents of goalies to garner development opportunities is to spend their own money to find it.
  2. Private (for-profit) goaltending programs, like MINE!  Obviously, to fill in the hole left or willfully ignored by minor hockey, many for-profit goaltending programs have cropped up.  High end goalie coaching in some places in Ontario run up to $300 an hour for a coach.  There is one major benefit of this: Canada has the largest population of these programs where the directors, eat, sleep, and breath goaltending.  This in turn has lead to some amazing coaches in Canada, and I really respect them and their knowledge.  BUT this has lead to another major problem:  the same coaches/developers that could create and maintain a development program for Hockey Canada DO NOT want to "kill the golden goose".    In other words, do not expect these private programs to support a "true" national development program wholeheartedly.  Most spend more time debating the reverse VH at the Hockey Canada goaltending development camps hosting major junior goalties rather than getting serious about helping the other 95% of minor hockey goalies. 

As a result, I've been thinking and re-thinking how to use Ambition Unlimited as a way to address these issues.

Firstly, Ambition will be offering FREE weekly/bimonthly group training sessions for all IP and Novice goaltenders for all minor hockey (and ringette) associations.  These sessions are to create a foundation for all kids who want to start the position and gain the important first fundamentals.  The "risk" parents take when their kids want to try the position are compounded when, in order to gain these skills, have to PAY to get them in addition to added cost of gear and lack of attention the goalies receive in practice.  AU is looking to take that risk off the table, as a result, I hope it will lead to more kids trying the position, getting the those first important skills, and finding that passion that will let them play a long, long time.

Secondly, these group sessions will be the crucible to help develop the next generation of ADULT VOLUNTEER or JUNIOR MENTOR goalie coaches.  The sessions can be used by teams, associations, or people just interested in getting real experience for their ADULT VOLUNTEERS, some of whom may never have been goaltenders.

For the JUNIOR MENTORS, I've been very fortunate to work with some of the most well-rounded and positive group of goaltenders.  Many of these boys and girls are now reaching young adulthood and with their natural leadership qualities, have had 7-8 years of goalie experience and have had a load of coaching from myself and other great coaches in the city.  They are ready to be turned into very effective JUNIOR MENTOR goalie coaches.  I currently have six candidates to help service my local three hockey associations and one candidate for ringette.  The junior mentor goalie coaches will all have their level one Hockey Canada certification and will work the above mentioned goalie clinics.  In turn, they will be assigned to a minor hockey team in their area.  In turn, as a consideration, this minor hockey team will need to "sponsor" this junior mentor goalie coach.  By sponsor, I mean either "purchase" the sponsor bars of the mentor goalie coach or make a donation to the coach's team.  Hopefully, this will keep everyone motivated like a professional goalie coach, while at the same time, keeping the fundraised money within the association.

Both the ADULT VOLUNTEERS and JUNIOR MENTORS will have complete support from me, including a full season on-ice development plan, appropriate for their adopted goaltenders' level.  I will also help liaise with the association and the head coaches of the teams they adopt, so that they are used most effectively.

The short term objective that I have is that the first five to six years of a young goaltender's career, he or she is going to near costless support.  Eventually, I hope to have a volunteer or junior mentor with every novice and atom team in the city within the next three years.  

Ambitious?  Yes, I think so!!


Willful Ignorance: The Missing Key to Goaltender Development In Canada

UE Motto: Be a Warrior!

There are few stories that resonate as deeply as this excellent article written by Kevin Woodley on NHL.COM.
The article discussed the lack of purpose and training benefit for goaltenders in standard team practices at the NHL level.  He even made argument that the practice drills with the team could be detrimental to goaltenders as they would "cheat" or "game" drills in order to stop the puck.  The essential thrust of the article highlighted the issue that most drills allow the players to shoot with too much time, too much space, and from a too ideal location on the ice.  This would allow the players the ability to shoot more accurately with better velocity at the net in its widest range.  Corners and money-holes (below the gloves and above the pads) are too easy to hit.  Goalies, in order to compensate, will end up cheating, by either over-committing their positioning or opening up leading holes for the shooters to hit and the goalies will then attempt to "time" and take away the hole on shot release.
  The bulk of team drills are run in this format, not only at the NHL level, but at all levels.  No consideration is given to the goaltenders in terms of how stoppable the shot is or if the shot location and timing is anything close to resembling a game-like scenario.  There is an obvious lack of training benefit to goaltenders, and, as an aside, I also think it doesn't serve the players very well either.  Goaltender cheat to "game" the flow drills and thereby learn bad habits.  Players get to shoot in ideal circumstances and location, in addition, to score excessively in practice, developing a false sense of development or confidence.  One of my mentors has always said that all good drills "start and end with the goaltender in mind".  If it is good for the goalie, it will be good for the player, but rarely, if ever, is that put into practice.  


The strangeness of the situation is often exemplified by drill structure and the coaches explaining the drill to the team and staff.  I always have to chuckle to myself watching a coach work up an elaborate break-out/re-group/triangulated attack pattern on the coaching board in a near Jackson Pollock style, and then finish with the hollow instructional phrase, "...and then shoot on net".  I think to myself, "wow", the most important part of the drill, in fact the whole point of the game we play, to score a goal, is summarized in three words "shoot on net".  In fact, most coaches haven't even really thought about the how and why and where their charges should shoot on net or what could result from it (goals, rebounds, loose pucks, wide shoots, etc.) or their appropraite offensive responses should be.   I have even had coaches claim that "goal scoring can't be taught".  It is a skill, in their minds, that just "is".There will always be challenges integrating a goaltender with his team in practice.
  Well, in my opinion, goal scoring can be taught.  Goal scoring, arguably the most important high level skill in the game, can be taught, it can be trained and it can be developed in a large selection of hockey players.  But it has to start with one very important field of knowledge:  modern goaltending and the role of the position.  You can't become a goal scorer if you don't know the position, consciously or unconsciously.  And, as a coach, you definitely cannot teach goal scoring, the most important skill in the game, if you don't understand the position of goaltender.
  This is where coaching has failed and lost a major development opportunity.  I have voiced countless times that this lack of understanding is where Canada has failed in developing goaltenders (and thereby its goal scorers).  Canada's slide in goaltending quality was always masked by the huge number of goaltenders in our programs.  Great tenders from Canada were always going to appear on the stage in reasonable numbers, since we have a million kids and adults playing the sport. These supremely talented athletes were going to appear regardless of team coaching or even position goalie-specific coaching.  Canada doesn't have a shortage of professional goaltending coaches or goaltending knowledge.  There could be more, of course, and it always could be better, but of the ones we have, many are very good, and parents and kids have several choices on who to work with in most communities.  On top of that, even without a goaltending coach, there is still an amazing amount of information online and in print format.  Couple that with countless opportunities to watch peers and heroes on TV or live, there really is no excuse for a goaltender to not find ways to develop goaltender-specific skills, if the motivation is really there.
No, our downfall in goaltending and goaltending quality rests squarely with the coaching culture that we have accepted at both the national and professional level, and which has filtered down to our junior and minor hockey programs.  Coaches have become unwilling to learn about the position and the role it plays in the game.  As a result, very little of what goes on on the ice during practice helps develop the goaltenders (and in the end, hurts the players, as well).  Thousands and thousands of hours are wasted by these goaltenders acting only as a team "shooter tutor".  These are development hours that the goaltenders will never get back and the longer they train in that environment, the further they fall behind the competition either locally or internationally.
Position specific training is essential, but shouldn't the burden of development be shared?  This is not from a lack of knowledge or resources available, but a symptom of the hockey culture we have cultivated and now accepted.  It is a cultural mindset that we have to tear apart and rebuild.  The hidden benefit of a revised coaching culture for our goaltending dilemma would be a major increase in deliberate practice and strong development opportunities.  It would mean that the training a goaltender does with his/her team (about 80% if the team has a goaltending coach; 100% if not), will have real meaning and real developmental impact on the athlete.  But it has to start with the coaches making a strong and willful effort to understand the position.
  It is mind-boggling to me that as a nation and a sport, we have accepted that head and assistant coaches can be ignorant to 1/3 of the positions on the ice. There are forwards, defense, and goaltenders.   Goaltending is not 1/6th, but 1/3rd or 33% of all the positions in the game.  Even if the coaches in question understand every other position perfectly, they are essentially a grade "C" coach at best.  It would be like a MLB skip not understanding anything about his pitcher.  Or a football coach deciding he shouldn't or needn't understand anything about his quarterback, because, well, he has an offensive coordinator for that and besides, the quarterback's job is easy.  He just has to complete passes.  Or the pitcher's job is simple, as he just has to throw strikes.  Or a goaltender just has to stop shots.  A football or baseball head coach at the highest level who "proudly" expressed his ignorance of positions like quarterback or pitcher in public like NHL coaches do on a near nightly basis, would have a pink-slip in his mailbox before he stood up from the press conference.
  And as I said, not only is a goaltender an important player, on par with pitcher or a quarterback, it is still only 1/3rd of all the roles on the ice.  In addition, I love hockey and it is the best sport in the world, it is in no way near as complex as baseball or football and how all the position work and interact.  So in order for a coach to not understand the position of goalie and how it works, he would have to be what Steve McKichan call "willfully ignorant".  And that is the worst kind of coach who makes an effort to ignore a section of his team and their development.  Practices reflect that.  Games reflect that.  Personnel management reflects that.  The beauty of this problem is that this ignorance is intentional and that it can be corrected by "will not skill" or some secret Scandinavian philosophy.  
I have a theory why this "willful ignorance" exists, but I'll save that for another time when I can afford getting fired from more coaching gigs.  (j/k)
With real understanding, a goalie can develop even with the darkest of villains.

Pats and Congrats: CHBA Wings Atom A Win Amherst Bluenose Tournament

UE Motto: Be a Warrior!It seems like I can't keep up with the accomplishments of our teams, as I get tournament highlights into my inbox every week.

Here is a great little story of two 'tenders that delivered the goods for their team at the Amherst Bluenose Tournament.  Jack Howie, second-year Atom vet, and his goalie partner Rylan Schneiderman, a first-year up-and-coming rookie.

The kids had a tough time securing a spot to the elimination round, but an outstanding effort by Jack Howie to tie, 2-2 gave the Atom A's the needed pointed to secure a spot in the finals.

Rylan came out calm and collected to beat Sackville, NB's team 7-0 to win the gold.

Both boys are continuing to perform well throughout the regular season.  Jack is a solid goalie with amazing fundamentals.  Smaller in stature than most, he understands the game and knows what he has to do to play "big".  Rylan is a dynamic and aggressive goalie.  With gymnastic-like flexibility and "in-your-face" goaltending style, he knows how to mix it up to keep the opposition shooters guessing.

Way go, coaches and crew!!

Atom A Wings survive and then strive in the Jungle!!


Pats and Congrats: DWMHA Midget AA Girls Win Gold at SEDMHA

UE Motto: Be a Warrior!It seems odd to be talking about SEDMHA in December, but the SEDMHA organizers have moved the female division's tournament to the part way through the 2014-15 season.  I think it is a great idea and due to the shortage of rinks in Dartmouth, the entire tournament was held in the BMO Center in Bedford. 

Even though many of my female teams were not playing in their natural "home" rinks, the girls at all age categories performed at the highest level and help net Dartmouth/Cole Harbour associations a neck-full of hardware.

My first shout out goes to a couple of young ladies that have been workhorses for their associations for years: Dana Melanson of the Whalers and CPA, and Nicole Lowe of the Wings and Auburn High.  Both girls play a ton of games for their high school teams and have shared duties with the Midget AA girls over the last two years.

They continue to reap the results of hard work and they netted themselves another gold medal for the trophy case by winning it all at their home tournament, the SEDMHA Honda for 2014.  Not much more to say and I'll let the numbers speak for themselves.  Even though both girls are coming off long injuries, they totally nailed it by allowing only four goals against in four games, and even pitching back-to-back shutouts in the semi-finals and finals.  

I couldn't be prouder of these two tendies.  They're both dedicated to the craft!

Gentle smiles with eyes as hard as coffin nails!


Pats and Congrats: CHBA Wings PW AAA Win Sherwood Park Early Bird

UE Motto: Be a Warrior!My first shout-out of the season.  I'm really behind on these, as many of my local teams are coming out of the gate strongly and competing beyond initial expectations.

Without further ado, I'll post my first Pat and Congrats to a team and pair of goalies that I've had the priviledge to work with since Novice and Atom.  Josh MaCarther and Will Hambley are two dynamite work-horses for their association.  Josh is originally from Easter Shore and has opportunities to play AAA hockey in both Dartmouth and Cole Harbour.  Will Hambley has been a mainstay in rep hockey for Cole Harbour since his strapped the pads on.

The Cole Harbour duo travelled to PEI with their PW AAA to battle in the challenging Sherwood Park Early Bird tournament.  Two ties in the round robin required a little luck into getting into the semi-finals.  Two solid games in the final two games allowed Josh and Will to clinch the gold with a team GAA of 1.75.

I know strong tournament play requires solid goaltending throughout and both boy delivered.  Good work!!

Smiling faces for a job well done.