USA Hockey Magazine

January 2014

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BY JESS MYERS GROWING UP GOALIE When It Comes To Allowing Kids To Put On The Pads, The Best Move May Start Away From The Crease A As a beginning youth hockey player in Phoenix, 8-year-old Brendan Burke wanted nothing more than to follow his father's lead and play goalie. His father, three-time NHL All-Star Sean Burke, had other ideas. "I didn't allow him to play goal right away," said the elder Burke, now the Phoenix Coyotes goalie coach. "I told him if he played two years at forward and still wanted to play goalie, we'd talk about it." It's not that the 14-year NHL veteran didn't want his son ever playing goalie. It's that he wanted Brendan to learn all aspects of the game en route to a more permanent spot in the crease. That's a commonly held sentiment among hockey coaches and those with goaltending experience from coast to coast. Seemingly every boy and girl in the locker room wants to don those coollooking goalie pads at least once, and 6-year-olds look adorable waddling out onto the rink in full goalie gear, struggling as much to stand up as to stop the puck. But many experts believe that a full-time position in goal should wait until a player is older, and has learned all facets of the game. "It depends less on age and more on the ability of the individual player, but the ideal situation for many kids is to play half of their youth hockey games in goal and half out, either at forward or defense," said Joe Bertagna, the commissioner of Hockey East, and one of the nation's most renowned goalie coaches. 22 JANUARY. 2014 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM PHOTOS BY USA "For a goalie, their comfort level on skates will come faster if they skate out at least part of the time, and it's going to be tougher to read a play if you haven't been on the other side." That was Burke's thinking when delaying his son's goalie career. Having faced shots from most of the NHL's renowned scorers, he knew that the knowledge of how a play develops is invaluable information when you're guarding the crease. It's a learned set of skills that are commonly called "hockey sense." "Understanding what a forward sees when he comes in on a goalie. Understanding what happens on a 2-on-1 and what the real options are. Or what happens on a 3-on-2, Hockey Magazine Archives; Getty Images; Courtesy of Ryan Miller

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