New initiative has goalie culture a priority in Arizona
“51 in 30” is the battle cry behind the new USA Hockey American Development Model (ADM) goaltending initiative where the goal is to have 51 percent of NHL and National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) goaltenders to be American-born by 2030.
Introduced this last May at the Warren Strelow Goaltending Camp in Plymouth, Mich., the program is truly a grassroots effort to develop goalies at all stages. The intention is to create a goalie culture where the position is no longer ostracized, feared and misunderstood. Through specifically designed weekly practice plans and special events, the initiative helps associations who do not have a goalie-specific training program and even helps to fortify existing ones.
Coaches will now have the resources to better train all members of their teams. Newly appointed goaltending development coordinators (GDC) will identify association members who want to work with a goalie-specific agenda, oversee and facilitate use of the plans and organize special events.
In Arizona, the GDC is Larry Gibson, who brings years of goaltending experience to this new position. He said he is extremely grateful to the Arizona Amateur Hockey Association (AAHA) board director Tim Reckell and AAHA secretary/women’s rep, Sarah Dennee for giving him this opportunity and their support.
Gibson takes the “51 in 30” motto even further by firmly believing that there will be an Arizona-born goalie in the NHL or NWHL by 2030. Changing the perception of the position and creating a new goalie culture in Arizona hockey is his own personal challenge.
“A typical drill ends with a goal, but with our weekly practices, the drills can end with a save,” said Gibson. “It’s time to give these goalies something to celebrate.”
Gibson is also adamant about who the program is for, saying “this is not just for elite goaltenders.”
“This is for all players regardless of skill level,” he added.
With that being said, Gibson now has the ability to identify well-performing goalies and register them with the national USA Hockey offices as “ones to watch.”
Accessibility to the position is something Gibson also feels strongly about. With the advent of the “quick change pads,” it’s never been easier for a youth player to try goaltending. Quick change pads consist of leg pads that are easily attached over the shin guards, allowing a child to go from player to goalie in seconds. Add in the zippable, padded jersey that acts like a chest protector and you have a goaltender able to stop a blue puck. With these new tools, every 8U and 10U player will be encouraged to give the position a try. If nothing else, they gain a new respect for their goalie teammates.
Future “Try Goalie Days” will also be a way for budding puck stoppers to work the net and find out what it means to be a goaltender.
With the addition of mentors, youth players have the opportunity to self-identify for this important role through an application process. Becoming part of the weekly practice plans and special events, these goalie mentors have the chance to demonstrate drills and become role models to players just one year younger than themselves.
So what’s next for Arizona goalies? Weekly practices will begin in the fall with an October kickoff that will include an on-ice drill demonstration, off-ice instruction and plenty of interaction with goalies, parents and coaches. Phil Osaer, USA Hockey ADM manager for goaltending, is expected to attend and participate in this event. Some association members have already been identified as participants in this initiative and “everyone is excited to be part of the process,” according to Gibson.
Questions? Contact Larry Gibson at GDCGibson@azamateurhockey.org and connect with AAHA on their website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channel for more information as this new initiative is rolled out.
– Sharon Enck