Upcoming Events


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 fundamentals (3)


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!!


Footwork and Fundamentals Drill: Shooters Top Walk with Attack Option

Sometimes things that seem very simple have in reality many complicated nuances.  This drill that I have used for years and forgot about was recently resurrected in my mind when I worked at Dan Lacosta's Varsity Goaltending's Elite Camp this past August in Fredericton.

The drill is deceptively simple and very easy to set up with one shooter.  The drill is also ideal to use on the wall at center ice whenever the coaches want to use the endzones for team- or positional-based drills.  The net, in those instances, can be set up on the blue or red line to allow the goalies to get a center net reference.

The simple take on the drill is that it is just a pure tracking drill.  But there are so many other teaching points that make the drill a skill bonanza.  It is a great way to teach young goalies about the benefits of the shuffle vs the t-push during a lateral track.  The tracking issues in this drill are very important.  Letting the shooter lead or staying patient and trying to not get ahead of the shooter are the major point of the drill.  Appropriate depth selection is important on the initial push out, but it is also vital that the goalie continues this depth level as the shooter drives laterally across.  The temptation for many goalie is to panic and start to "shave the blue paint".  "Shaving the blue paint" is the term I use when goalies get deeper in the net unconciously when tracking lateral puck carries with their shuffles.Upper Echelon Goaltending: Shooters Top Walk with Attack Option

Also, ideally, I would like to see the goalie set on the shot release and not always flowing or sliding into the shot.  Some center-shifting to improve position on the shotline can help the goalie control the shot better, however.  The criteria on whether the goalie should slide into the shot would depend on how close the top walk is to the net, how quickly the shooter is cutting across, and, more complicating, whether the shooter has back pressure or not. The downloadable drill has listed changing the height of the cones as a variation.  

The group profiled in the video are from Dan's Elite Camp so we wanted to make it a bit more challenging.  We allowed the shooters to drive the net with an attack after they passed the last cone.  This would force the goalies to chain some of their movements.  By turning their lateral shuffle and sets into a quick backward c-cut retreat, goalies had to read when to have static/set feet or dynamic/retreating feet.  I love to add that element to a simple drill as it takes an exercise that was basically just positioning and shot-stopping into a more situation-read drill opportunity.  The retreat can't start to early or a good shooter will burn the goalie with an quick shot release after cutting around the last cone.  "Shaving the blue" here, too, will have the goalie too deep too early when the shooter starts to drive the net.

Finally, you can ramp this drill even further by adding a screen or two with your spare goalies or some deflection boards.

You can download the pdf of the drill details here.  

The video shot at Dan Lacosta's Varsity Goaltending showing the execution of this drill:




Footwork & Fundamentals Drill: Nearside Farside with Shooter's Walk

Here at Upper Echelon, I've wanted to make as much of my drills and ideas for training available to anybody who asks (or can download the files).  I'm going to add every day or so, one of my Footwork & Fundamentals' Drills for coaches, assistant coaches, and goalie instructors to use.  To kick this program of a drill dump, I'm going to start with a variation of the Nearside Farside Pushout drill that was part of the Back to Basics drill plans.  

The variation is the Nearside Farside Pushout with a Shooter's Walk.  For most of our F&F work this spring, I'm hoping to work more on movement transistions and movement chaining where goalies are forced change their movement selection from one form to another.  This movement selection transistion may also be combined with changes in direction or tempo.  The idea is to create more realistic drill scenarios that can help a goalie train in a predictable and consistent way.  The game of hockey is basically "barely contained organized chaos", but in order to allow a goalie to practice a skill, they must follow set patterns that give them a chance to execute the same repitition over and over again.

Anyways, the next downloadble drill has a enough meat on its bones to give the goalies several different challenges that apply to the game today.  Namely, plays that originate down low and move to the perimeter and shift east or west by the goalie's perspective.

Download here...http://www.upperechelongoaltending.com/downloads/footwork-fundamental-drills/NearsideFarsideShootersWalk.pdf