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By Matt Kakabeeke, Hockey Director, 02/01/19, 12:45PM EST


Hello KOHA Families!

Hope you and your family were able to spend some quality time together with the polar vortex that ascended upon us this last week.

As you know, KOHA’s commitment to goaltender recruitment and retention began in earnest a couple of seasons ago as we worked with USA Hockey’s (then) Manager for Youth Goaltending Development, Phil Osaer, to enhance what we were doing for that position. Under the direction of Tom Askey and the goalie coaches on our skills staff, we have employed the following strategies:

  • Specific Goaltending-focused Coaches Colleges
  • Utilizing the goalie Quick Change equipment at 6U to give every skater a chance to try the position
  • Allowing every 8U player the opportunity to try the position
  • Adding more goalie-specific members to our Skills Staff
  • Requiring every Travel & House B head coach (and suggesting that every House C head coach) assign one of their assistants to work with the goalies; that means engaging with our goalie skills staff when on the ice or in a coaches college to ensure a clear and consistent message for our goalies.
  • Having coaches design (and submit) practice plans that show an inclusion of drills that engage the goalies in beneficial ways that develop their skills (heads up: that means more than stopping shots and drills that have players coming at them in predicted ways - that’s not how our games play out).

At some point, it is equally important for our goalies to engage themselves in the development process. Asking questions, watching how high level goalies warm up and practice is as important - if not more important - than watching games.

Here is an article with practice tips for goalie training, and some of our Skills Staff weighed in.

JOEL MARTIN: I think it is good. I think that a conscious effort by coaches to include drills for goalies is very important, BUT a whole practice plan cannot be completely dedicated to the goalie. It is important for goaltenders to take responsibility during practice when the focus is elsewhere to work on their own. Skating/crease movement is underrated and often under-utilized by young goalies. Every elite professional goalie will get out before practice and work on their crease movement. This isn’t always available for minor hockey goalies so using the down time in practice is essential.

LOGAN THORNE:  I personally loved the article. Especially can relate to the part where it was discussing rebounds; even if there isn’t a second shooter for rebounds, goalies should always follow rebounds in practice. Very important to develop good habits such as following rebounds, tracking the puck,etc.
I also enjoyed the section discussing communication with goalies before games. It talked about focusing on one small thing such as “keeping your arms tight”, rather than just saying “go stop the puck.” It gives them something specific to focus on, which can be invaluable to the success of an outing, especially for the young goalies.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at

See you around the rink!