Let’s face it, nearly every single person who reads this article is not going to be playing a particularly high level of hockey. Odds are that the goalies reading this are somewhat like me, tenders in the local rec leagues. You non-goalies, well, who knows, but I’m betting you don’t play too high of a level either. Luckily, I am here to inform you, the goalie, on how you can have goalie swagger in spades.
Goalie swagger is a combination of actions used by the goaltender that have nothing to do with saves or positioning and everything with how you carry yourself, both on and off the ice. Swagger can earn you instant respect, and maybe even allow you to get in the heads of the opposition forwards. It can earn you accolades you didn’t deserve, and even downplay or mask poor performance.
It isn’t easy though. Goalie swagger is a double-edged sword; your confidence could just as easily betray you. A general rule is that before you get your strut on make sure you’re fairly well-versed at the goaltender’s actual job. In case you can’t remember, that job entails stopping the puck. It’s pretty hard to look like a boss when your game is pretty much Swiss cheese (although, that would be an awful lot of swagger!) Of course, poor goaltenders look better with a strong image.
Here are a few tips for developing your own rad image, and getting yourself some goalie swagger!
- Look the part – on and off ice.
As some important swagger developer no doubt once said, “image is everything.” I won’t go too far into the specs of what kind of gear you should use, as goalie gear was covered in a previous article. But basically, colour matching between gloves and pads are a general given. It can be hard to match with the jerseys, especially if you keep switching teams, but full ensemble synchronization should be achieved whenever possible. If you bounce around teams and leagues like a loose puck, odds are you want to go with the standard all white or all black gear setup. Try to keep the same brand name as well, if you can (I wear Vaughn and my swagger is off the charts.)
As with many things in hockey, however, looking good doesn’t stop when you leave the ice. Show up to the rink dressed to impress. Shirt and tie can be a nice touch, but even something as small as a sexy black overcoat can boost your confidence before you even step on the ice. Walk with a sway, or at least walk properly, and keep your back straight in a dignified manner. Yes, confidence can and will make you stop more pucks.
- Carry yourself like a champ.
One of the most underrated aspects of swagger is how comfortable you, the goalie, look in your gear. There exist a couple of standard options for looking cool doing seemingly banal things. To start, nobody wants to stay in that sweaty bucket we call a helmet all day, so don’t be afraid to tip it up and rest it on your head during a stoppage of play. You can combine this with the au natural water drink, tucking your stick underneath your catcher arm and squeezing the bottle with your blocker mitt. When done exhibiting your relaxed yet focused nature, simply give a quick nod of your head and watch the mask snap back into place around your face. Just to warn you, this takes practice. Expect to receive a few nasty jolts to the nose at first.
In between whistles, you have an opportunity to do something small to keep yourself focused and ready. Why not take that same time to let everyone in the arena know how monstrous your confidence is? Doing a few small circles or figure eights around the net is pretty standard fare in the NHL, but it’s a simple, textbook way of making the goalie look relaxed and comfortable. Combine with raised helmet for better results.
If you cover the puck, or catch it, develop a routine of what you do with the puck. My two favourite swaggeristic options are throwing it back and serving it up. Throwing it back basically involves letting go of the puck immediately after the whistle is blown and shoving it away as if to say, “I don’t got time for that weak shit you just threw at me”. It gives you the maximum time to regroup or grab a drink, and also requires very little effort.
Serving it up is a kind of a complex manoeuvre for a goaltender, so I’ll explain. First things first, you need the puck in your glove. Practice picking it up off of the ice if you can’t already. Once it’s in your glove, flip it up into the air and twist your glove hand. The idea is for the puck to land on an indented part of your glove so that it balances. You can then hand it off to the referee, who will appreciate not having to dig through your glove mesh to get at the puck. It also makes you look that extra bit cooler.
- Don’t just stand. Stand with swagger.
A goalie’s ready position is an important part of his routine and style in the net, and is not something you should ever tamper with. However, we as goalies do not always need to be in the ready position, so there are some options for looking rather cool while nothing is going on.
There are many relaxed poses that the goalie can take, but some are more effective than others. Just standing up straight makes you look bland and uninteresting. Get creative! The worst possible position would be to lean on the net with your elbow. I’ve seen many goalies do this and it makes you look like a joke, so don’t. The idea here is to look like you don’t play beer league on a regular basis.
The optimal position in my experience is to hunch forward slightly, with your hands resting on the tops of your pads. This makes you look interested in the play, like a tiger ready to snap into a ready stance, and it balances itself out by not looking too serious. Beware crouching over too far though, as then your body language is exhibiting a lack of confidence rather than an abundance of it.
4.Play like you’re being filmed.
This is a really simple mantra to follow and it improves your coolness level in a steady, effective manner. There are two sides to playing like you’re being filmed: selling saves and masking goals.
Selling saves is pretty straightforward. All goalies, good or bad, occasionally make great saves. This can be attributed to skill, positioning, or even at times sheer dumb luck. As a swaggerific goaltender you must recognize these saves and sell them hard. Every reaching glove save should turn into a windmill-just follow the natural momentum of the save and then bring your arm back in front for an instant windmill save. If you make the big leg stretch save, really exaggerate the extension with your arms. This apparent great effort will earn you major points whether or not you make the toe save, as it will look like you had no chance if it went in.
This brings us to masking goals. The least confident thing that you could do as a goaltender is to react to being scored on. Don’t give the other team any indication that you just got flat out beat. Shovel the puck out of the net with one hand on your stick, keep your chin up and have a drink (helmet tip optional-remember, we are not trying to react. Trying to use swagger after you’ve just been scored on is false bravado.) Not only does this make you look like the coolest cat in town, but it is also very therapeutic for your no doubt frustrated mind.
Remember that the netminder is at his most effective when he is impartial as to the rest of the game. If you watched nothing but the goalie, you should have a hard time telling how many goals his team has scored. What you should see is a composed, relaxed, confident mountain of swagger that would intimidate anyone trying to put the puck past him. That way even if you can’t stop a beach ball, you still look like a shark.
It is unclear whether or not Alex Eastman is the all-time OCHL shutout leader. But it does add to his swagger.