How old were you when you decided to become a goaltender?
Nathalie Jackson, Burlington, Ont.
I was five years old when I became one, but I always wanted to be a goaltender.
What was your welcome to the NHL moment?
Jake, Woodstock, N.B.
I think that it was my first career win. It was against Dallas during the second game of my first year.
Who is the hardest player to face in a shootout?
Zac Matthews, Jordan Station, Ont.
There are many, but for me it’s Pavel Datsyuk.
If you didn’t play hockey, what sport would you play?
Peter Shannon, Thunder Bay, Ont.
Soccer. I love soccer; after hockey it is my favorite sport.
I play goal, but have a hard time pushing off from side to side. Any suggestions?
Matthew Zaik, Spruce Grove, Alta.
One side is going to be naturally stronger than the other, but to improve, when you’re working out, do more sets and reps with your weaker side. And during practice focus on using your weaker side as much as possible.
Hey Peter, I am a goalie, too. Do you have any good tips for stopping breakaways and to stop me from pokechecking every time?
Ben Kemball, Innisfail, Alta.
Breakaways are a tough play. I think it’s most important to stay patient and wait for the player’s first move. Try to stay out – so you don’t back up too soon – and try to get into the same rhythm as the player you’re going against.
The pokecheck is a good play, but it’s high risk. You should try not to use it too often.
Do you think it is better for a young European player to come play in the Canadian League or to stay in Europe?
Tyler Fitch, Stittsville, Ont.
That’s a tough question; I think both are good. But for me, the best decision was to go to Toronto and play in the Ontario League. But many players stay in Europe and have successful careers. It’s really just a personal choice.
What’s your pre-game routine?
Shivam Goval, Vancouver
I like to get to the dressing room almost three hours before the game. I’ll tape my sticks, watch game tape on the opponent and then stretch and warm-up kicking the soccer ball around. Then I’ll get my equipment on and prepare mentally.
Where did the idea of putting Ned Flanders on your mask come from?
Nicholas Duplessis, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
During my first NHL year, my equipment manager, Terry Geer, gave me the nickname ‘Ned’ and we thought it would be cool to put him on my mask.
How do you improve your hand-eye coordination and your reaction time?
Tammo Lotz, Leipzig, Germany
A tennis ball works well. Try throwing one against a wall before every game or practice. Watch the ball going to your hand and always keep your eyes on the ball.
Who was the toughest player to stop in the Ontario League?
Clifton Cope, Elmira, Ont.
Jason Spezza was there when I was. He was a really tough player to play against.
What kind of off-season workouts are best for conditioning?
Taro Locskai, Sherwood Park, Alta.
I do lots of explosiveness and cardio workouts in the summer. I also lift weights, but not as much as skaters because I think goalies need to be faster rather than stronger.
Which goaltender’s style do you try to replicate?
Rafal Ladysz, Windsor, Ont.
When I was a kid, I tried to copy Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Mike Richter. But some stuff only works for one person, so if I tried something and it didn’t work, I moved on to another. Everyone is different and different things work for different people.
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