Sunday, February 24, 2008

Awesome Penalty Shot SAVE!!

This past week I was at our Training Centre, instructing goalies one on one for the better part of the night as I usually do 5 or 6 days a week.

Our One on One Goaltender Training Centre is located at the Ice Park arena. We are in he back corner of the south rink and our area is essentially from the blue line all the way to the end of the rink with the rink boards being one of our walls. When we set up our area, I chose to leave the glass as it was, so we could occasionally watch a goalie playing during a game. This has proven to be a helpful teaching aid, but it is also a form of entertainment for our students waiting their turn or their parents, as everyone gets to watch the games that are ongoing throughout the evening.

On this particular evening, Gerry Ellison, who has worked for us for 19 years and is our Head Instructor and my good friend, was playing goal for his men's rec team. Now, Gerry is a bit of a 'talker' on the ice and sometimes can 'stir the pot'. Tonight Gerry looked to be in fine form making many good stops and getting into a few scuffles with players who came to close to his crease.

In the first period, Gerry had a couple of heated discussions with one player in particular and there were some heated words, shoves, challenges and taunting on both sides (Gerry of course won the war of the words with his quick wit).

Late in the second period, with Gerry's team ahead by 2, there was a big scrum in Gerry's crease and the signal came from the ref "PENALTY SHOT" against Gerry. Wouldn't you know, it turns out to be Gerry's 'friend' who he has been having words with all game, who will take the shot.

Well, we had to stop our session and the 3 students who were in attendance (one from before, the current student I was working with and the upcoming client) and all the parents gather at the glass to watch. Of course I have known Gerry for nearly 20 years, so I have a pretty good inkling of what his plan is and I let everyone know that this will be worth watching.

The player readies himself and slowly picks up the puck off the centre dot, he skates in -ridiculously slowly - with his head down looking at the puck the entire time. I look down to Gerry and see his is at the top of his crease, but not outside of it - I know what is coming.

As the player reaches the hash marks about 15 feet out, Gerry readies himself, as I see his 'drive foot' slide into push position. Without any warning, Gerry EXPLODES off his back foot, he drives as hard as any pro goalie could have, and he launches into a perfect 2 pad stack, at exactly the right time!! The player, who was over 6 feet tall and around 225 lbs, with his head still down, never saw it coming, Gerry slides straight through his skates and he is launched! Up and into a 180, landing half on Gerry's legs and half on the ice behind Gerry in a crumpled mess.

The classic move was made even better as Gerry literally threw the players legs off of his and he jumped to his feet and skated to his bench, without a word. He had said it all by making the perfect play!

It was a sight to see!! I've been around hockey for a hell of a long time and I can say with all honestly

"I have NEVER seen a better play on a breakaway or penalty shot"

It was beautiful!!!

Afterward I asked Gerry about the play. I told him I knew what was coming and his reply was classic Gerry; "yep, no way was he going to score on that play". I asked him what the player had said as he skated back to the bench with his proverbial tail between his legs. "Hell of a save" was his only comment. Fitting for 2 warriors who still love to play and play to win.

Gerry won 5-3

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