I was watching a game at the Minnesota Hockey High Performance Festival in Plymouth, when an evaluator asked me what I look for in picking the best goalies.
I told him I look for goalies who can move about the crease and a goalie who competes. He replied, what do you mean? I told him that goalies need to be able to skate like no one else on the ice, with power and precision, and they also need to be able to move laterally both when they are on their feet and when they are on the ice.
I think what really separates most goalies at this level is their desire to compete. It is often easy to see which goalies are battling out there and determined to make as many saves as it takes to keep the puck out of the net, and the ones who are lost after making the first save figuring their job is done.
I added that many goalies at this level are good with their crease movements, but struggle with the desire to compete.
That’s because somewhere along the way, the instinctive or competitive part of their game disappeared. They became consumed with thinking about what save selection they were told to make in certain situations instead of reacting to the shot they were facing and making the appropriate save selection. When the competitive piece is missing from a goalie’s tool box, it usually doesn’t work out very well.
And I added that another thing I look for is goalies who not only stop the puck, but also control it once they make the initial save. Does the rebound go into the corner, does the goalie smoother the puck, of if it gets away, do they get their body in position to make the follow-up save?
As an evaluator you need to find things that separate the group. If you focus on skating/movement, desire to compete and ability to control the puck, it makes it easier to select the top goalies.
He thanked me and told me this insight would really help him with his selections.