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Summer Skills Camp, Monday to Friday, August 5th to 9th,@ Cole Harbour Place, 800am to 400pm 



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

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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


Entries in clinic (6)


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!!



Hey Old Dogs!

This is just a quick recap on last night’s session.  The plan was to type it up between goals of the latest Philly vs Pittsburgh game but it is 7-4 at the beginning of the 3rd period so there hasn’t been much time to type this up.

It was good to see some new faces at the clinic last night.  The new “Dogs” worked really hard in this first session for them although I know getting back into Drill/Practice mode is a new world of hurt for many of us who have been away drills for 20 plus years.  They all stuck it out really well and I was especially amazed that they picked up the multiple concepts of the butterfly slide and back-leg recovery.  There were, of course, some kinks in relearning some of the basic movements, but the instructors and I will keep the heat on this to make sure that it is delivered consistently from now and into the future.  It is the foundation to efficient and effective play.

Not to repeat too much about the butterfly slide technique that we worked on in the previous sessions.  We revisited the single-knee drops which I think are the foundational drill to initiate the butterfly slide under control.  I like the single-knee drops because it focuses the goalie in putting the lead knee down first before the push-side knee.  It is quite common for many starting the butterfly slide to drop their push leg prior to dropping their lead knee.  It leads to a choppy slide and worse, the goalie loses the on-ice coverage on the lead leg slide which is usually the purpose of initiating a butterfly slide.

There was also another element that I haven’t addressed in my recaps on the single-knee drop drill and that is about the positioning of the skate edge of the push leg.  It will probably take some time as the goalies may be limited in their control of their hip-rotation of their legs.  Most typically, the goalie will want the push leg’s skate edge to be perpendicular to desired direction of movement.  With goalies new to the butterfly concept and limited hip-rotational control, a single knee-drop will usually force the hips/pelvis to “open up”.  This opening of the pelvis will force the push skate to “open” as well as the toe of the skate will rotate away from the body line.  The push leg will no longer be pushing against the perpendicular line of desired motion and the goalie will have a less than desired push.  When you goalies practice the single knee-drops during your private ice hockey sessions, try to focus not only have a good lead leg on the ice, but watch out for your skate rotation on the push leg side.  I bring everyone back to Maria Mountain’s videos Hip Rotation Discussion and Hip Rotation Exercises as a great foundation to building up your hip flexibility.  It’ll improve your technique and help prevent in-game injuries.

During the actual puck drills in the shooting stations, I wanted to draw attention to the positioning of the lead leg during the push and the problem of rotating while sliding on the ice.  This is typically a problem of having the lead foot to fall back behind the goalie’s butt creating “drag” like the rudder on a boat.  The rudder leg will cause the goalie to rotate clockwise when pushing left to right or counterclockwise when pushing right to left.  The objective here is to attempt to keep the sole of the foot of the lead leg pointed in the desired direction of movement.  If you find that you are rotating out of control on your hard slides, check to see if the lead leg is pointed in the desired direction of movement or is it pointed behind you.   Watch some demos of the pendulum drill (this is a variation of what we did in Session #6 where I had the goalies recover up) and the lead leg direction:

Dave Wells Pendulum Drill

Roman B Doing the Pendulum Drill

Maria Mountain's Dryland Pendulum Workout

Our next session will follow our natural progression of the butterfly slide and we will work on our Butterfly Shuffle or Backside Edge Slide.  This has become a staple of goaltending for goalies to make quick lateral adjustment for in-tight second chances.  The above Pendulum Drills demonstrate the Backside Edge Slide more than a typical butterfly slide.  This session will be very challenging as the mechanics are difficult.  Weight transfer will play a big part of this and I highly recommend everyone come with freshly sharpened skates.  Sharp edges are a requirement in getting the strength behind the pushes in this session.  I will adapt my standard drill a bit so that we will have a little lateral momentum prior to the backside edge push.  This will help, but not as much as sharp skates.

As a reminder to all that our 7th Session is scheduled for April 19th at 9:00 pm at Cole Harbour Place Scotia #1 Rink.  I am expecting a very good turnout for this session, but I still ask if you can’t make it please let me know as soon as possible so I can open up a net for someone else or so I can book the right number of shooters.  The numbers are starting to increase and if I can get a consistent 12 goalies or more a session, I will book our planned #9-#12 sessions as an hour and half clinic (pending ice availability) at the same cost.  There is so much more we can work on in an 80 minute session that we can’t in 50 minutes, so pass the word to your goalie contacts!!

All the best in goaltending,

Todd Bengert


Old Dogs Session # 4 and #5 Recap

Hi Goalies!!

I apologize for the delay on the write-up.  Since session number #4 was a bit of review of Number #3 and Session #5 was low on attendees, the recap today will deal a little more with the standard/static butterfly and its recovery.  Session # 6 will start our work on the butterfly slide.

In Session #4, I took the basis of my introduction to the butterfly slides and morphed them into a recap of the butterfly save.  The first drill was one of my favorite and an old stand-by for all my clinics and goalie sessions, the Static Swing drill.  I particularly like this drill because not only is terrific to introduce both the butterfly and butterfly slide, but also can be used to work on a proper recovery.  If you remember the mechanics, it involved the shooter standing about 4-5 feet in front of the goalie with the puck directly between them.  The shooter would pull the puck to either his forehand or backhand and the goalie would shift his/her angle to the new shot line.  At this stage of the drill, the shooters held the shot until the goalie had shifted and squared up.  By filling the new shot line by shifting ones angle, the goalie doesn't leave the shooter much space to score.  At that range, the only place that the shooter should be able to put the puck would be between the goalie's legs or five-hole.

Once the goalie squared up, his job was only to read the release of the shot and close the only available hole.  The important mechanics of the butterfly become very apparent in this exercise.  In order to effectively close the five-hole quick enough at that range, we need to have a low and deep stance.  As was illustrated in the previous session and the skating warm-up, in order to close the five hole quickly, our core or body-center must be as low to the ice as possible (while still being able to maintain a level of mobility).  To drop the knees to the ice, the core must also be lowered to some degree.  If the core is too high, your knee drop will be limited to the speed of gravity.  If the core is low enough, it is possible to drive the knees to the ice with hip rotation and heel flare.  This type of knee drop is considerably faster than the speed of gravity and will allow the goalie to close off the five hole quickly.

The second part of the drill demonstrated a proper backside recovery.  I got you guys to come to a full recovery (regain both edges of your skates) by using the backside leg to recover first and push back to the top crease for the next shot in one "fluid" motion.  Since you shifted to one side and dropped both knees, being able to recovery quickly and efficiently after the shot to follow a rebound is very important.  One of the main detractions about the butterfly in the early days of the save technique is that goalies were slow to recover and follow the new play.  Many goalies were dissuaded from going done for that very reason.  However, the backside edge recovery has allowed goalies to get over this shortcoming.  In simple terms, the backside edge typically describes the concept of using the skate or leg furthest from the new puck location to recover first rather than the leg closest to the puck.  This backside edge recover allows the goalie to not only get up, but to push to the puck in a single motion.  This is much more efficient and quicker than using the lead leg to recover first.

Some goalies will recover with their stronger leg, so they may be "correct" half the time.  Other goalies will want to recover with the leg that they use to save the initial shot since that leg was probably extend and the knee is already off the ice.  This can lead to a slower and more awkward recovery.  It will take quite a bit of time to rebuild our tendencies in this recovery system, so expect me to watch you guys carefully in any drill we do for how you are recovering even if the main focus of the drills is not recoveries!!

Here is Jon Elkin for Vaughn Hockey breaking it down...Jon Elkin - Butterfly Recoveries

The other thing that Jon does well explaining here is the lead leg rotation that we sometimes need so that we can push in a straight line to our new target.  Some goalie coaches illustrate this by saying that one should become square to the puck's new location first before pushing to the new angle.  We illustrated this a bit in Session #3 for those in attendance.

Anyways, if you have any questions or ideas about what you would like to see in these recaps, please let me know.

All the best in goaltending!!



Old Dogs Session # 3 Recap

Session #3, March 10th

Hi Goalies!

      Here is this weeks Session #3 recap and the official date/location announcement for Session #4.  I want to thank all those that could attend this past weekend's session.  The feedback on the session has been very helpful and from what I was told the right muscles were the sorest, so I guess we were doing something correct.  For the most part, I hope our thighs and quads were burning and sore the next day and not so much the lower back and knees.

     Session #3 highlighted a lot of up/down work with the butterfly.  The reason that the butterfly has become so popular and so successful in modern times, is that it allows the goalie to effectively cover the bottom half of the net in one motion.  This single motion allowed the goalies to react on shot release and not worry (much) about shot direction in terms of left or right.  In a swift action, the goalie has closed off the bottom part of the net.  The ability to cover the bottom of the net effectively is essential to successful goaltending.  Even at the NHL level, more than 80% of the goals enter the net through the bottom half and we are talking about the best shooters in the world.  If you could perfect your butterfly technique, you too could have at least an 80% Save %age in the NHL and play for the Leafs.

      In days prior, goalies didn't go down in that style either due to the rules of the game or the limits of the equipment (who wants to butterfly without a mask?).  For a goalie to cover down low in those days, he/she must have reacted either with their skate or stick.  This lead to a total reactive save that required not only inhuman reflexes but impeccable timing.  As the game sped up and shooters improved, the kick save was supplanted by the butterfly.  Reacting to an 85 mph snapshot along the ice from 20 ft out had become impossible.

In watching the attendees work and responding to their on-ice questions, I was able to discuss a little bit about the physiology required for the butterfly save.  In simple terms, a strong, wide butterfly comes from a lot hip-flexibility and not the knees.  The knees should have a very strong muscular support structure built up before attempting butterflies, since they are easy to injure with improper technique.

As promised, I am appending an excellent series of videos from Maria Mountain, a professional trainer in Ontario who focuses a large part of her practice on ice hockey goalies.  I suggest in watching all these videos, as she discusses how the other joints and the movement and flexibility will affect the other joints and even our backs/arms.  

  In addition, Maria uses the term Kinetic chains  quite a bit.  It is a very interesting topic in Sports Medicine and I think we should really consider this when dealing with our movements and the potential for performance limitation.

On the technical side, we highlighted several areas that are important for a quick and effective butterfly.  The most important element in my consideration is our stance depth.  In most cases, I use a term called "save ready".  This is the situation where we have created a deep stance that is ready to react to the shot (in both timing and direction).  To be "save ready", goalies will be deep in their stance, bending their knees and not crouching their back too much.  From a lateral perspective, it will look as if the goalie is just about to sit in a low stool.  In order for use to go into a butterfly and close off the five hole quickly, the goalie's core (or bellybutton if you can't visualize the core) must be as low to the ice as possible while maintaining decent lateral and depth mobility on one's skates.  For the goalie's knees to hit the ice, the core must drop.  If the core is too high, then the it will take time for the core to drop to the ice and that will leave a gaping hold between the legs.  Gape too long and the puck will find a nice and uninhibited path to the back of the ice.

In our drills, we also stressed the "quiet hands" and "quiet upper-body".  The "quiet hands" helped keep our stick and glove in the proper position while executing the saves.  The "quiet upper body" will also help block as much of the upper net as possible plus allow goalies to make quick and efficient recoveries.

Lastly, we introduced the concept of "backside" or "backedge" recoveries.  Rather than using two legged pop-ups or strong leg recoveries only, goalies must learn to recover with the leg furthest from the puck's rebound location.  Not only is this more efficient, as it will help the body turn and square to the new puck location, in our later sessions, it will help us transition into a second save or movement.  "Backside" edge is a staple in modern goaltending.  Adding this little tweak to you game will take time as you may have to re-train your natural recovery instincts, but it will lead to quicker and more efficient movements, which should lead to more saves (and less fatigue and injuries).

Our 4th Session is scheduled for March 24th at 9:30 pm again at Shearwater Arena.  The general plan is to review the butterfly again and introduce the butterfly slide.  We performed a lot of single knee drops for our warm-up last week (and I hope everyone performed some at their pick-up hockey sessions).  The need and ability to perform these simple exercises will definitely become more apparent when we start the butterfly slide.  I will still keep on the attendees about their recovery as well as their stick and hand discipline.

If you can confirm your attendance early, it would be a great help as I need to organize shooters for the numbers attending.  I want to keep everyone working hard the whole session.  I will resend a confirmation request on the Thursday just prior to the session date.  If you have already confirmed by that time, please ignore it.

Yours in goaltending,

Todd Bengert



Old Dogs Session # 2 Recap

After Session #2, March 3rd

Dear Adult Goalies,

Thanks again for the turnout last weekend.  We had lots of ice and you all battled extremely hard in what is probably one of the most exhausting clinics we'll have (until we get to Butterfly slides and shuffles).

As for our 3rd Session in the series, I'll be introducing the butterfly.  This will include both the mechanics of going into a butterfly from our ready stance and basic recovery or what is termed a backside-edge recovery which is the staple of modern goaltending.  There will be quite a bit of up-down movements in this session, but since we'll keep lateral movement to a minimum this time, I don't expect it to be as strenuous as last week.  The main focus will showing how the modern goalie can use the butterfly and how to get from our stance into the butterfly in the most efficient way possible.  I'm hoping that this session is the one many of our veteran goalies can make the most use of.  While I understand the prevalence of the butterfly in the game, I don't consider it a style (although I may slip that term in accidentally on occasion).  I consider the butterfly a save-technique or a tool that goalies can use to stop certain types of shots.  I'm not much for the idea that goalies should butterfly all the time.  It would the same as pulling out your 3 wood from your golf bag on tee shots and then on the fairway and, if you were lucky enough to make it that far, on the green as well.  Goalies should use the butterfly as a conscious choice that fits the circumstance.

The date and time for the 3rd session again is March 10th 9:30pm at Shearwater Arena.

Please email me confirmation as soon as you can so I can book shooters.

  As a recap to session #2, I'd like to highlight a few things.  The essence of the shuffle makes it a very difficult lateral movement to perform well and efficiently.  First of all, weight transfer from leg to leg must be spot on otherwise you will be driving your lead skate deeper into the ice.  This will make every push that much more difficult.  Also, to make sure we get good weight transfer onto our push leg, a strong leg recovery (pulling the push leg back under our center of gravity) is vitally important.  One of the most challenging aspects of this is that it may force us into a higher stance that may seem not "shot ready".  This is the main reason why I suggested we use a relaxed stance and shuffle when the play is on the outside and that we only deepen the stance when the play gets in tighter.  The shift in stance depth came from our last drill where we had the shooters weave through the zone.  Another time to commit to a deeper stance is when the puck carrier is starting to drive directly to the net.

If you want a good refresher on the lateral shuffle, take a look at Manitoba's Mind the Net video.  It is a very nice breakdown and it highlights many of the mechanical points that we covered.

On the tactical side of using the shuffles, the drill really forced us to make our lateral move while maintaining depth.  This leads to "riding the arc" as part of our positional awareness.  Using the shuffle makes it very easy to use small adjustments to not only stay on our shot angle, but also to readjust our squareness and maintain depth.  I scoured the internet to find some good examples, but it was a little difficult to get an example of something the general public thinks is as mundane as good shuffles from an NHL goalie.  I did get a couple of clips of Cam Ward who I feel is an excellent goalie with a style that most of us can emulate.

Notice here too, his depth adjustments by starting deep and pushing out on the read of the play.  There are also good examples of  lateral shuffles in a relaxed but ready stance and then a shot-ready stance.  I highly suggest on catching any game that Cam Ward plays on TV and watch very carefully how he uses movement in the game.

That is all for now.  Feedback and questions are always welcome.  Just let me know if I can share with everyone on my list.
Yours in goaltending,

Todd Bengert