2021 Goalie School

Randy Exelby, in the green hat, addresses his students and coaches at the conclusion of the 2021 Goalie School.

After losing a summer of its famous Goalie School, Behind The Mask welcomed students back to the Ice Den for five days of on-ice training. 

Goalies whose skill levels ranged from top tier travel to high school and recreational leagues took their skills to the next level after 10 hours of on ice training at Behind The Mask’s Goalie School. 

However, this camp differed from camps in the past. 

Previous Goalie School camps consisted of 10 hours of on ice training along with five hours of off-ice training throughout the camp. 

“This year was a little different because of COVID-19,” Patrick Young, who guards the goal for the 14U AA Junior Coyotes said.  “Usually, we do a lot of off-ice training which is really fun, but we couldn’t do that this year.” 

Though students could not get an off-ice workout, they were able to pick the brains of coaches who have played high levels of hockey, including one who played at the highest level. 

“A lot of the goalies who come here want to work hard and get better,” said Randy Exelby, who owns Behind The Mask and played for the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers between 1989 and 1990. 

“Just having someone who played at those high levels be able to talk to you about how they got there and what they had to do in terms of their work ethic was a really good learning tool,” Young said. 

Goalies also received instruction from coaches who played college hockey like David Volkmann, who played for Iowa State University; Jordan Nash-Boulden, who played for Arizona State University’s women’s hockey team’ and Anthony Ciurro, the starting goaltender for the University of Arizona. 

“Having a coach like Coach Volkmann who played for Iowa State was great because he was able to pass on the skills and training that we would need to play at that level,” said Ben Thomas, who tends the twine for Horizon High School. 

The experience that these coaches were able to provide the students with was something that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. 

“Knowing that I had a guy who played at a higher level made me feel comfortable in retaining the information he gave me,” said Reid Westerman, who patrols the crease for Mountain Ridge High School. 

Not only were students able to pick the brains of goalies who have played high levels, they also hope these coaches are able to help them get their feet in the door to play college hockey. 

“I worked with Coach Ciurro at a U of A camp as well and he gave me a lot of help. Plus, I was able to show him what I can do which will hopefully help get me a connection to play at the U of A in college,” said Zach Conger, who shares the net with Thomas at Horizon.

Jordan Nash-Boulden and her skating drills had the biggest impact on the students as she designed drills for their skill levels. 

“If she knew how hard you could work or what you could do, that’s how she would set up the drill for you specifically rather than for the group,” Young said.

“She doesn’t let anything stop her, which was really inspirational,” Conger said. 

One of the stations that pushed the students to compete the hardest was one with three nets stacked side-by-side where students had to stop a single shooter.

Another station that tested the goaltenders had a machine that shot pucks up to 60 mph. 

The school concluded with a shootout where students faced off one-on-one against the camp’s shooters and were eliminated from the contest once they were scored on. 

Once the shootout was over, Exelby presented some students with awards and left them with some string advice. 

“‘If you are not working hard, somebody else is. Talent only takes you so far and hard work takes you even further,” Exelby said. 

He also reminded the students “It’s easier to do things once at 100 percent than two to three times at 60 or 70 percent.” 

Students hope the skills they learned over the five days at Behind The Mask’s Goalie School will help them succeed this season. 

“Ben and I are just hoping to have a better season than last year and make a deeper run in the playoffs,” Conger said.

Exelby added, “I hope these goalies had fun, our shooters were awesome this year and they had a few laughs with the goalies.”  

Info: Behindthemask.com  

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