Behind the mask
Getting in the head of goalies
Goalies: Who are they? Why did they choose this position? Is there something inherently wrong with the mind of a hockey goalie?
“There are some goalies out there that are completely nuts”, said Bolton Pouliot, a goalie for the SAIT Trojans men’s hockey team.
“I don’t know where I fall, but I know we are classified as weird.”
Pouliot is speaking to the general stigma surrounding goalies in ice hockey, and their solitary positions at the back of the rink.
“Well, we stand in front of 100 mile-an- hour slapshots,” he said.
“Probably not the brightest thing to do on your days off.”
Though to most players, being a goalie might not seem like the most desirable position, for those who do it, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Back when I was seven years old, I started out as a player, but wasn’t any good at it,” said Emma Greenwood, a SAIT Trojans women’s goalie. Her coach suggested she try out goalie.
“I tried it and was good, so I just stuck with it.”
Greenwood has experienced this ‘goalie stigma’ before and said on her position, “You definitely have to be weird, because who wants to get shots at the head.”
Beyond hanging out at the back waiting to get hit with pucks, the goalie has one of, if not the most important role in a hockey game.
“The mental game is the biggest part of being a goalie,” said Greenwood.
“Anyone else can make a mistake, but as soon as you make one, it goes up on the score board. You’ve got to check your mental game, have a strong head, and not let it rattle you.”
“I enjoy the pressure,” said Pouliot.
“I enjoy the games on the line. Your team gets a penalty and you’ve got to battle it out for the last two minutes in your zone—I enjoy that.
“That’s probably the hardest part though,” he added. “You mess up, it gets on the score board.”
Pouliot has been playing hockey his whole life, and much like Greenwood, knew from the age of seven or eight, that he was destined to guard the net.
Both goalies offered advice for the slower sections of games, when it may be an entire period before a goalie sees a puck.
“It’s tough,” said Pouliot. “I’d rather have a night when I have 45 shots on net, than when I have six, because it’s hard to stay in the game. You kind of have to watch the game, track the game, that’s the only real way to stay in it.”
On the contrary, Greenwood says she tries to take her mind to other places during the slower times.
“I definitely don’t think about hockey, but as soon as that puck comes into your end, you’ve got to focus up, fast,” said Greenwood.
SAIT Trojans hockey teams have begun their seasons and look to improve and achieve their podium goals. As for the goalies, they’re still there, and still weird.