The goalie, or goaltender, is a defensive position in hockey in charge of protecting the net from the opposition’s shots.
Goalies wear special protective equipment that other positions are not permitted to wear. This includes large leg pads, a catching glove, a blocker glove, and more. Almost all goalie equipment is larger than skater equipment, as they need to be able to adequately protect their body from high-velocity shots.
Goalies are held to a high standard in the NHL. They typically see between 20 to 35 shots on goal per game and, amazingly, only let in a couple of goals in the net. This leaves a thin margin for error, as many hockey games are decided by only one goal.
Being a goalie requires flexibility, dexterity, and the ability to focus for long periods of time. The same goalie often plays the entire game and is rarely substituted.
Roles and Responsibilities
Goalies are the last line of defense for a hockey team to keep the puck out of the net. The goalie is responsible for stopping the puck from entering the net, blocking and catching shots on goal, and passing the puck to teammates in the defensive zone.
Types of Goalies
There are three types of goalies in modern hockey, mostly determined by their stance and technique. They are called butterfly, stand-up, and hybrid goalies.
Butterfly is the most common playing style used among modern goalies. In a butterfly stance, the goalie crouches down and has his legs shaped like a butterfly flapping its wings. Whenever a shot on goal occurs, the butterfly goalie will force his legs down towards the surface of the ice to block the puck.
Stand-up goaltending is not used as often as it was in hockey's earlier history. In this technique, goalies would make saves from a standing position and rarely would fall to the ice. Butterfly and hybrid goaltending have become much more popular in modern times.
A hybrid goaltending technique takes portions of both the butterfly and stand-up styles and blends them into one.
A strong hockey goalie is defined by their performance. A statistician can evaluate a goalie based on Saves (S), Save Percentage (SV PCT), and Shots Against (SA).
Goalies are equipped with both a goalie stick and a goalie catching glove. Both tools are important to the success of a goalie. The goalie stick is used to block pucks that stay on the ice. It is also used to pass the puck to teammates. The goalie catch glove is used to catch airborne pucks that fly towards the goal and hold onto blocked shots. The leg pads, chest protector, and pants are all larger for goalies when compared to skater’s gear.
Shifting is an important part of being a good goalie. Based on where the puck is on the ice, a goalie will shift their positioning in the goal crease to cut off the angle of the shot. Goalies must anticipate where the puck is going based on the formation of the opposing team.
It is often said that the bigger the target, the harder it is to miss. This strategy applies to playing goalie since spreading yourself out allows you to cover a larger portion of the net. A good goalie will only leave the goal crease to play a puck if offensive players are not nearby.
Top NHL Goalies of All Time
The following lists some of the top goalies in the National Hockey League:
- Martin Brodeur
- Patrick Roy
- Dominik Hasek
- Henrik Lundqvist
- Jacques Plante
- Ken Dryden
- Carey Price
What is pulling the goalie in hockey?
Pulling the goalie is a strategy used by teams when they are in desperate need of a goal. A team will pull their goalie off the ice in exchange for an extra attacker if they are losing late in the third period. Having a sixth skater allows a team to control the puck in the offensive zone and make more shots on goal. When deciding to pull their goalie, a team must decide if it is worth the risk of leaving the net open for the opposing team to make an easy goal.
Why do hockey teams pull their goalie?
Teams pull their goalie because having an extra skater on the ice allows the team to cycle the puck to an open skater who is not being guarded by an opposing player. Having one more skater than the other team is a huge benefit on the offensive end but a disadvantage defensively.
When should a team pull their goalie in a hockey game?
A team won’t typically pull their goalie until the final minutes of a hockey game. However, when there is a delayed penalty against the other team, a team will pull their goaltender for an extra skater as there is no risk of the other team making a play after touching the puck.
Which goalie gets the win if one of them is substituted?
In a hockey game, a goalkeeper may be substituted if they are performing poorly, or become injured. In this situation, the goalkeeper who is on the ice when the game-winning or game-tying goal is scored, will receive the win, tie or loss.
For example, say the score is 2-1 and your team is down. You get substituted in for the goalie who is currently playing because he or she is injured. If the score stays the same for the entire game, the other goalkeeper will receive the loss. If your team comes back to win, you receive the win.
What is the NHL emergency goalie rule?
The emergency goalie rule allows teams to assign a third goalie just in case the two that are already on the roster get injured. Emergency goalies are usually former college hockey or recreation league players. It is extremely rare for both goalies to become injured in a game, but the NHL rule allows teams to have a second backup goalie, if both were to get injured.