Goalies can often easily be criticized when they fail to stop every shot that they face. This amount of criticism can skyrocket if the team doesn’t win the game. In my time as goalie and while playing sports, I have seen repeated jokes about people not dating the hockey goalie. I didn’t understand the meme behind it nor did I see any value in the joke regarding a goaltender. Regardless of the position of a goalie, it is important to know the goalkeeper can make a larger impact in the game than one might think.
When I was playing broomball for tryouts, I was put in the net because I couldn’t run fast on the ice. Being the goalie was the only option for me to be on the team. The team was known to have struggled defensively and often lost as a result. This made the expectations put upon me to be low and hard to disappoint. Looking back, I believed that I helped carry the team into the playoffs.
The team won the first game by a score of 4-2, and I made about 23 saves in that game. This game was just the beginning of some of the highlights that I would pull off during the season. I remember this one game, the team only had 2 shots on the opposing goalie. Whereas, I faced over 30 shots, yet the final score was 1-0 for the other team. That game in its last moments was probably the most intense moment I ever had to face in my entire life in sports. There were times in my mind when I was wondering if I was going to give up another goal. I kept thinking to myself that if the team did not get it out of the zone, we would give up another goal. Luckily for my team, I stood tall and stopped every shot that came my way. As the season progressed, my team started playing better defensively and we started piling up more wins.
I remember the style I played throughout the season was the highly aggressive butterfly goalie. Similar to goaltenders like Dominik Hašek or Roberto Luongo. This meant that I often stayed low to stop a shot and hardly stood up. This style definitely gets the job done. The downside to this style is that it is often hard on the knees. I recall having the knees constantly battered and bruised after each game when I play this style. I recall one game after using that style and giving up a goal, I had difficulties getting up and I couldn’t get up. I had to be assisted up by two of my teammates and sent to the athletic therapist; who stated the knees were badly bruised. The athletic therapist recommended that I stay off my knees for a couple days to recover. Looking at the knees, they were dark purple, which came from all the games I played in a row. I played around 25 consecutive games before this injury happened. Fortunately I was able to finish off the season and do the playoffs.
I anticipated a goal on a 2 on 0 breakaway cross crease and managed to knock the ball down with my stick and punched it away from the net, leading to a goal for my team. This helped my team maintain a shutout and shortly after my team scored to win the game 2-0. I have made tons of saves off of the breakaway; like that save I knocked down with my foot to stop the ball from going in. I was just as surprised as everyone else was at that time. I honestly thought that the shot was going to go in the net and the game would have been tied 1-1 but I kept it out so it was 1-0.
My skills at the net captured the attention of the other goalies and they started to copy what I was doing. This helped cause the inexplicable goal crash in which despite the shots going up, the score was going down. Games that ended in scoreless ties, or 1-0, or even 2-1, were such a common occurrence that a 3-1 game was considered high scoring. This was a true defining moment for me as, despite the crash, I still often came out on top in the league. The pressure for goaltenders in that scenario was high as any goal could be the last one in the entire game. My advice is do not give into the peer pressure from fans and teammates and just do what you do best.
After all of this was said and done, I realized I did finish the season posting 23 wins, 5 losses, and 4 ties. Now doing some math, I was calculated to have given up on average of 1.78 goals a game, and had stopped 94.5% of the shots that came my way. Out of the 32 games I played, I had 13 games where I gave up 0 goals. This is what most people would consider a shutout; all of these stats are considered remarkable by any goalie standards. I seriously consider what I was behind the net, as if it was a movie where the protagonist was considered the underdog, yet pulls themselves and manages to overcome such obstacles.
My words of advice for goalies is that being a goalie truly is a job you cannot let get to your head. I remember the expectations on me were high as the season carried on and the pressure can definitely wear you down. Unless you are a franchise goaltender like Dominik Hašek, or Patrick Roy, there will be times where there is pressure on you. Sometimes your losses are not at your fault, other times they are. This is why you cannot let a bad game into your head and dictate who you are as a goalie. You do what you need to do; don’t look for the flashy saves for they will come to you, and stop every shot you can.
Written by: Michael Pelzer