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On Wheels: Rolling in Goal

September 16, 2011 Goalies No Comments

On wheels: Rolling in goal
By Wayne Anderson
Oct 31, 2001, 15:54


This summer I had the pleasure of working with Mike LaZazzera, the national Goaltending Program Director for Huron Roller Hockey school. Now that winter approaches, Mike is back at his other job—goaltending coach for the University of Maine Black Bears. At Maine, Mike has tutored and worked with standout goaltenders Garth Snow and Mike Dunham, the netminding duo for the 1994 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

Because of Mike’s experience with netminders both on the ice and in roller hockey, I turned to him for help addressing this month’s topic: how a goalie must adjust in going from the ice to the roller hockey floor.


Shuffle step

Mike says the biggest difference is in the “shuffle step.” On ice, a goaltender moves only one foot, while gliding with the other. On rollers, a goalie must move both feet—one at a time. This creates a larger 5-hole for shooters. When working on the shuffle step, remember—the smaller the steps, the smaller the 5-hole.

The other big difference, which all hockey in-liners experience, is stopping. For a goalie, though, stopping is a critical part of tracking and challenging. On rollers, a goalie requires more time for these aspects of his game. For example, on ice, a goalie would start tracking when an opposing player crossed the red line. On rollers, however, the goalie must start tracking a player almost as soon as he breaks out of his own zone. The goalie must think further ahead to keep pace with the approaching play.

Another big difference is the two-pad slide. On ice, a goalie needs less power from the “t-push” which initiates the slide maneuver, and will slide further than on a roller hockey surface. On rollers, you need to generate a greater amount of power just to slide a shorter distance. Plus, you will come to a much more abrupt stop when you complete the maneuver.


Iced edge

In terms of skill level, Mike and I both feel that while a great deal of talent is required to play net both on ice and in roller hockey, the ice hockey goalie tends to have a slight edge in athletic ability. Mike attributes this partly to the newness of high-level roller hockey. I also believe that roller hockey goalies are more susceptible to fatigue due to the higher temperatures they play in while wearing all the same equipment as their on-ice counterparts.

And speaking of equipment, another important difference for goalies on wheels is the puck itself. Huron Roller Hockey schools use the Arena Puck, which generates a greater amount of movement (dipping and curving, for example) than an ice hockey puck. This movement comes both from the lighter weight and from the holes bored into the puck. John Hord, of Arena Puck manufacturer Sun Hockey, explains that the holes in the puck are designed to keep it from “floating.”


Making the switch

Mike urges all roller goalies to concentrate four basic areas of training; balance and agility, rink geography, recovery, and puck-handling skills.

In balance and agility—the most important area—a goalie needs to work on the ability to move quickly while keeping themselves in a proper hockey stance. Remember the small steps that reduce the 5-hole?

Rink geography is also critical for the crossover goalie because a roller rink has no blueline—which is traditionally used by ice hockey goalies to help map out their territory and anticipate the approaching play. So familiarize yourself thoroughly with the playing surface. Study the distances from point-to-point, and the time it takes a skater or the puck to get from one spot to another…and then to your net.

As to recovery, a goalie must be able to execute a move—that two-pad slide, for instance—and get back into proper position (with full knowledge of where he is on the playing surface) quickly and without hesitation. In other words, you need to combine your balance, agility and knowledge of rink geography to put yourself in position to make the next save.

Finally, puck-handling skills. Mike feels this is probably the most neglected skill in most goalies’ training, but an important one to concentrate on. He emphasizes these skills because he always views the goaltender as a potential “third defenseman” for the team. Anyone who watches hockey—roller or ice—knows that an active, puck-handling goalie can be extremely effective in helping his team clear their zone and transition into an offensive attack.

These are some of the things to consider and work on when adjusting to being a goalie on wheels. And, as always, the best advice is “practice, practice, practice!”


Wayne Anderson is Managing Director of Huron Hockey’s new roller hockey schools.

This first appeared in the 10/1994 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2001 Hockey Player® and Hockey Player Magazine®

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