Saanich Minor Hockey Association is taking goaltending to new levels, signing a three-year contract to develop its youth goalies with specialists Gold in the Net.
Bill Morrison is the director of goaltending for SMHA who was tasked by the organization’s executive committee to put a long-term, in-depth plan together.
“It’s a huge commitment to [goalie] development, it’s what is needed and it’s awesome,” said Morrison.
The former professional goalie spent time playing in North America and Europe before settling in town, where he works with the Victoria Cougars junior B team, as well as having spent time running community hockey programming for Saanich.
He says by incorporating a goalie-first development program, Saanich minor hockey is ahead of any minor hockey association that he knows of.
“I’ve talked to guys from here to Saskatchewan and none have heard of this yet, so we’re proud to lead the way,” Morrison said.
Gold in the Net runs summer hockey camps focused on goaltenders and is currently at Pearkes Arena. They’ll be visiting every second week for the entirety of the minor hockey season from August to March.
“The big commitment by SMHA is the ice time, dedicating an hour and 50 minutes every second week to this,” Morrison said.
Goalies will benefit from the added focus of having Gold in the Net instructors visit to tweak their games, from the ages of novice (7-8) and up.
High-end bantam players, midget and midget rep will benefit from Gold in the Net’s mental training as well.
Gold in the Net president Perry Elderbloom was here last week. The former Columbus Blue Jackets goaltending coach has worked with goalies all the way to the top of the spectrum including Henrik Lundqvist.
“This is the most aggressive stance on goalie development [at a minor level] that I’ve seen,” Elderbloom said. “It will be setting the paced standard for a lot of associations.”
Off-ice program improves peripheral vision
Lights glow across the two-metre Dynavision board as Dylan Ferguson relies on his peripheral vision to chase the red flashing buttons with his hand without losing focus on the centre screen.
The Lantzville resident is hoping the machine will help him get into the Kamloops Blazers’ WHL lineup as a 16-year-old backup goalie next month – and based on his score, his chances are high. He’s been practising on the Dynavision mental training board all week.
“Basically it awakens your peripheral vision but it’s not going to strengthen your peripheral vision,” says instructor Isaac Stevens of Qualicum Beach. The well-spoken teenager is only 17 but speaks to the benefits of the Dynavision better than some university instructors.
“The takeaway benefit is it helps take in information and understand your environment,” Stevens says. “In junior hockey, if you can speed up your reaction time by trusting your peripheral vision, you’ll be that much better. The pressure of speed changes everything, and that’s what hockey is at the next level.”
SMHA goalies (bantam and up) will now have access to the Dynavision board every month.