The Devil took to the ice last night in some unfamiliar gear along with two of her other normally non-goalie teammates. As mentioned, her team lost its regular goalie for at least a month to a non-hockey related injury last week and now find themselves scrambling for substitutes. This is the risk a team runs when it only carries one goalie. The league in general has a dearth of goaltenders. As such, the options are limited to beg, borrow or steal from other teams. This will be the case this upcoming weekend as three potential stand-ins are either playing for their regular teams at the same time or in completely different locations making it impossible for them to lend a much needed, gloved hand.
And so, the coach put out a call for any volunteers who may want to audition for the vacancy between the pipes; whether they had prior experience or not. As they say – desperate times call for desperate measures.
Never one to back down from a challenge or a chance to try something different, the Devil threw her helmet into the ring and said she’d give it a shot. The last time she tried goal will have been over four years ago in house league, but she threw on the pads and grabbed the over-sized stick with glee. Once in the net, you could see that while technique was lacking, sheer determination to keep the puck out was present in spades. I was on the ice for practice and fired a few shots at her along with the other coaches. She naturally flinched and fought the urge to turn sideways on a couple of chest-high blasts. Shots on the ice were the toughest for her to handle, as they likewise seemed to be for the other two new trainees. We provided all three aspiring backstops with a crash course in net positioning, angles and the basic goalie stance. The Devil did actually have a pretty good catching hand. Post-practice we all concurred that the regular goaltender’s job would be safe upon her return. The three volunteers were commended for their efforts. Each had her strengths and weaknesses; particularly in light of a single session. One of the three has some more recent experience; displaying the most technique, but also letting in her share of “softees” as they all did.
I think my favourite moment happened during a scrimmage at the end of practice. As players fought for a loose puck behind the net, the Devil turned completely around to get a better view of the action. When the puck emerged back out front she had to spin quick while trying to regain her bearings in the crease. On the way home from the arena she admitted this was her biggest faux pas. She knew it was the wrong move. Instinct to chase the puck took over. I got a chuckle out of it so it’s all good.
Time and availability will determine who may have to step into the breach and take on the role in an official capacity. The rest of the team for its part will need to likewise step up. They will have to support their fledgling tender, whoever that may be; limiting the number and difficulty of the shots she will face. The team has an opportunity to turn a potential negative into a positive as they have an excellent opportunity to get stronger as a team. In the meantime, some anxious parents will no doubt be watching a couple of games from behind slightly splayed fingers. I admit that I kinda do and don’t hope their mine.