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Humble Beginnings

One of the most influential person and mentor in my life, my Uncle Don, took me out one night when I was around 12 or 13 years old to go see a hockey game. We arrived at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum located in Uniondale, NY and watched the New York Islanders win the game. For some people it might have been just another sporting event, but for me it was life changing.

Shortly after the game started my curiosity was peaked by the two players at either end of the ice rink standing in front of a much smaller version of a soccer net. Both were covered in head to toe of nothing short of what appeared to be battle ready body armor and wielded a stick that was completely different than the rest of their teammates. Their masks were works of art that seemed like they should be hanging on a wall for people to admire. Somehow with all of the pieces of equipment on them, they were able to move effortlessly on the ice and perform acrobatic moves that typically are reserved for gymnasts.

I was hooked. I wanted to know everything and anything about NHL goaltenders and after that first game, became immersed in the world of hockey. I started playing goalie with my friends using only a baseball glove and a foward’s stick. We had a Mylec net and used a tennis ball as a puck. Pretty quickly after that my parents took me to a hockey and lacrosse shop and I got my first set of equipment. My roller skates were given to me by an older cousin who played hockey, they were old-school quad roller skates.

I am very thankful that my parents got me into skating when I was around four years old. By the time I started playing hockey I was skating better than I could walk. In the beginning I played mostly at the playground of an elementary school with my friends. Sometimes I would take a break from netminding and play out as Center. Eventually I joined a local outdoor traveling roller hockey team based out of Queens Village, NY. If I remember correctly we were called the Vikings and my jersey number was 31. That was the only season I wore #31, since then I have always worn #30. I was the backup and was grateful to be able to sub-in towards the end of some games and even got to start one or two of them.

After that my friends and I joined another outdoor league located in Nassau County. We only played a single season and a tournament together before the team disbanded and we all went our separate ways. I moved to Hot Skates located in Lynbrook, NY and played there until I went off to college. The college I attended only had an ice hockey team so I played at a rink not too far from my apartment.

Once I graduated college I came back home and for some reason I lost my desire to play. I don’t know if I it was the new NHL rule changes, or the thinning of talent between the teams or simply burnt out from playing constantly for so many years. I made a rash decision and ended up selling all of my gear on eBay. I took a break from everything hockey for about three years and eventually got back into playing Center again with my friends and co-workers. After a year of just playing pick-up games I played one season with them in a league as a forward. One thing I kept coming back to during that season was how much I was focused on and analyzed the various goalies we faced that season.

That was enough for the goaltending bug to bite me again. I got back into watching and going to games and learning everything I could about goaltenders in the NHL. Fairly recently I was able to save enough money to purchase all the equipment needed to play again. Luckily with all the running I do, I stayed in shape for hockey and bounced back pretty quickly after a few open hockey sessions, muscle memory never forgets. Since then I’ve played a few seasons with the same group of friends and am loving every minute of it.

I am constantly researching about the position and trying to learn the best ways to improve my game. From save techniques to mental toughness to equipment modding to game situations, you name it, if it has to do with being a goalie I am researching it and applying it. By no means am I claiming to be an expert, but I believe that I have a good eye for breaking down and explaining the art and science of being a goalie and my hope is that what I have learned can help other goalies out there.

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