Fresh sheet of ice

Stuck in a Slump

It happens to every goalie – you hit a rut, and can’t seem to stop the puck. The easy shots start going in, and the ones that hit you even seem to find a way to bounce or roll into the net. That is situation I face right now.

My current predicament started three games ago when our winter season started. I didn’t play terrible, and we won, but I let in a few (there is the first problem, a few) goals that I normally stop. They were breakaways – something I am usually strong on, and only get beat by really good snipes that I can’t be upset about. In this instance I was beat not once, but twice low stick side. My mind got lazy, and I just anticipated they’d shoot glove, and I probably gave more of the stick side than I should have. Then in our last game we played a team that should not be playing at our DII-league level. They had players who have played in the AHL on the team, and they were playing as if a shot at the show was on the line. I didn’t play particularly bad that night, but their skill got to me. Then last night things didn’t get any better. In fact the breakaways went the same as two games ago – into the net. Sure I made two awesome saves I had no business making, but they didn’t make up for the four goals I know I should have had.

On the drive home from last night’s game I did a lot of thinking about slumps, and how I’ve gotten out of them in the past. Once time in college my timing was off so bad I asked the coach of the women’s team if I could skate with them so I could concentrate on watching the puck all the way into me. My teammates picked on me, until our practice later that day and they saw it worked. Other times I just buckled down in practice and focused on my game. That worked great when I was part of a team that practiced, but now I play beer league hockey where our practice is about two-minutes of warmups that are mostly shots wide of the net or at my head. This got me wondering, how do other beer league goalies get through their slumps? We can’t just wait for it to pass.

I’ve tried visualization, but that’s easy as the puck always goes where you want it to when your eyes are closed. I’ve tried taking more shots in warmups, but that’s not helpful in beer league hockey. I miss the days of college hockey when warmups would start with two shooters going through a structured routine of low shots to work on butterfly saves, alternating glove shots, then the team lining up along the blue line to take long slappers before the 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1 rushes. Then again we had 20 minutes to work with in those days. I even looked up open hockey schedules in the area as I have some afternoon availability this week. Open hockey is pretty hit or miss though in terms of skill levels. I haven’t been to a good open hockey session since I used to skate in the late morning one at Johnny’s Ice House in Chicago.

So I am wondering how others have gotten out of their slumps when practice isn’t an option. Let me know.

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