When I look at the use of your goalie stick today I see an important but underutilized device in the goaltender’s tool box.
- It can be used to poke check the puck off an opponent’s stick. In close quarters knocking the puck away with a stick jab (short and improper poke check) will not redirect the puck out of danger. Instead it will lead to a dangerous 2nd shot on net as it puts the puck right back into play and most likely to the opposition. Poke checks should hit the puck with the angled bottom of the stick blade, which will deflect the puck off to the side and not back out. To ensure the stick can be extended fully there should be no tape anywhere on the shaft except at the butt end where a very large knob prevents the hand from sliding off the stick.
- It can pass the puck up to a team mate or shoot the puck up the boards out of the defensive zone, either one handed or two handed.
- It blocks passes made across the net or out from behind the goal-line. Lowering the shank or paddle of the stick down on the ice will help stop low shots and passes. It does provide a stronger balanced position when under pressure. However, the paddle down move backed up by a leg pad is best done when the puck is in close proximity. If it is done too far away the puck could be lifted or the goaltender will find himself out of position on quick lateral passes. Especially since the lowered crouch with the backing up lowered leg pad makes for a slower move across the net
- It can deflect the puck out of harm’s way into the corner of the rink.
- It can bat the puck out of the air thereby directing the rebound to the side away from the front of net.
- It can protect the gloved hand by covering it when a rushing forward drives headlong into the crease.
- It can direct traffic by pointing out opposing players or potential pass receivers to your team mates.
- It can also be used to push away opposing players who are crowding the goaltender in the crease.
- Hook check – held flat on the ice the stick is fully extended and swept across the opposing player’s direction with the toe of the stick leading. It hooks the puck off the stick by cupping it.
- It can be used in a sweep check – much like a poke check since it is used in close quarters. It is a fully extended stick held flat on the ice and is swept across against the flow of the opposing player. The heel of the stick leads. Ideally it is used as the player skates across the net above the goal line.
The Selection and Care of Your Goalie Stick
A goalie stick is an important part of any goaltender’s arsenal. When properly used it is an extremely important asset.
Selecting a goalie stick:
When choosing a goalie stick it is important to remember that the rules regarding your stick are vastly different from those rules for a player’s stick. The goaltender’s stick is a finely balanced piece of industrial engineering. The stick shaft’s length is precisely designed to properly balance the wider and heavier paddle and blade. Any reduction in the length of the stick shaft will throw off the overall balance of the goaltender’s stick and make it bottom heavy. A bottom heavy stick is unmanageable. It becomes difficult to maneuver along the ice. It becomes difficult to lift and to control when you are required to bat the puck away. Blocker saves become harder to achieve with an imbalanced stick.
Properly sizing a goaltending stick is predominately done by choosing the appropriate paddle or shank size. The stick paddle comes in different lengths. To better determine the proper paddle length remember that, once held with a pistol grip, the blocker glove hand thumb should be level with the goaltender’s kneecap when he is on skates and in the power stance. If the thumb is above or below the kneecap than the goaltender’s stance will be adversely affected. A too tall or too long paddle will make the goaltender’s stick too heavy and will raise the blocker glove and the shoulder. By raising the glove and shoulder you shift the goaltender’s balance and their centre of mass over onto his catcher side. To adjust the goaltender may move his stick blade out way out in front putting the stick at a dangerous angle and therefore make it hard to direct shots to the side properly. A too short paddle will make the goaltender’s stick too light. Goaltenders will quite often lift the stick up off the ice leaving them susceptible to shots along the ice and especially the five hole. The goaltender may also shift his weight over onto his blocker side thereby throwing off his balance and centre of mass.
Goaltending sticks are manufactured in three categories Junior, Intermediate and Senior/Pro.
Junior sticks are designed for young goaltenders playing up to Pee Wee (5 ft and under)
Intermediate sticks are for tall Pee Wee goaltenders and for average height Bantam goaltenders (61 – 65 inches tall)
Senior sticks are designed for tall Bantam aged goaltenders and for those goaltenders playing Midget/Junior and higher (66 inches and taller).
Junior stick paddle lengths range from 22″ – 22 ¾ ”
Intermediate sticks paddle lengths range from 23″ – 25 ½ ”
Senior or pro sticks paddle lengths range from 26″-29″
Here is a good tip from reader James Smith – A good starting guide when choosing a goalie stick is to take 38% of the goaltender’s height to determine the proper paddle length. Goalie 70″ tall should use 38% of 70″ or 26.6″. Great guide. Remember, too that each manufacturer appears to use slightly different measurements when gauging the paddle length. So 24″ Bauer may not be the same as a 24″ Warrior.
To ensure the stick is used to its full potential here are some simple rules regarding how best to tape the stick.
The stick blade should be taped from toe to heel starting the tape on the backside of the blade. Just prior to doing this though it is suggested you place a strip of tape along the complete length of the bottom of the blade from toe and completely around the blade. This will better preserve the blade. It is recommended you use white tape on the stick blade because it makes it difficult for the opposing player to see the white blade against the white ice especially on poke checks, sweep checks and hook checks. You may tape the shank if you so wish. Taping does help to protect and therefore preserve the shank and thus the life of the stick. As the paddle down save gains popularity it may be advisable to use white tape there as well to better disguise the shank against the ice those times the stick shank is along the ice.
Extending the goaltender’s stick to its full length will make poke checks, sweep checks and hook checks more effective. For this reason I suggest that no tape be used anywhere on the stick shaft from where it meets the shank to the butt end. Any use of tape anywhere along the shaft will only serve to slow the traverse of the blocker hand along the shaft. The hand has to move quickly along the stick shaft to better interfere with the opposing player. A fraction of a second wasted because of the friction of tape on the shaft or the loss of a few inches because tape on the stick shaft has prevented the stick from being full extended could be the difference between a goal and a save. All too often I see goaltenders that have attempted to poke check but who come up 4-6 inches short. When I look at their stick shafts I see they have tape along the shaft which has prevented them from fully extending their stick.
The butt end of the goaltender’s stick should be large. A large butt end has 3 purposes:
- It ensures the blocker hand does not slide off the end of the stick when a poke check is used. Remember a properly executed poke check involves a sliding or controlled throwing action so the stick can be fully extended. A large butt end prevents the stick from flying out of the hand.
- A large butt end will not become caught up in the goal net. Any goaltender moving quickly across the crease from post to post is in danger of catching the butt end n the mesh. A small butt end is too easily caught up in the twine while a large butt end prevents the stick from becoming trapped in the mesh.
- A large butt end allows the goaltender to pick up the stick more quickly when it falls to the ice. The large butt end should raise the stick high enough to allow the goaltender’s fingers to easily grasp the stick while it is on the ice.