How Are The Top Youth Hockey Organizations Attaining, Developing and Retaining Their Goaltenders?
By Brian Daccord and Matt Ouellette
Youth hockey organizations depend on goaltenders to supply all of their teams. Within the same state or province some organizations have a surplus of goalies while others do not have enough. The Foundation for Goaltending Research and Education surveyed 28 youth organizations from Massachusetts (11), Minnesota (8), and Ontario (9) about how their organizations are attaining, developing, and retaining their goalies and to determine if there are any consistencies in how successful organizations (A minimum of 7.5 to 1 player to goalie ratio) are doing so.
While none of the 28 youth hockey organizations that the FGRE surveyed had a perfect skater to goalie ratio of 7.5, the Ontario programs were the lowest with the closest having a ratio of 8.57 skaters for every one goalie. On average, Ontario programs had a ratio of 12.03 compared to Minnesota with 17.74 and Massachusetts with 23.63.
Of the nine Ontario organizations surveyed, six let their goalies play the position full time at the novice (mite) level while a majority of the Massachusetts and Minnesota organizations surveyed only let their goalies start full time at the squirt level. This may increase the organization’s chances at landing more goalies. If they love playing the position at a younger age, why make them wait an extra year or two before they can play full time? Waiting may discourage them and as a result interest may wane.
Another factor that may help getting goalies for your organization is whether or not discounts are offered to goalies. Discounts for goalies were correlated to better ratios in Massachusetts and Minnesota, However, none of the Ontario organizations that were surveyed offered any discount for goaltenders.
Free additional training should also help decrease skater to goalie ratios and increase goalie popularity. A majority of organizations surveyed offer some type of free additional training on top of their weekly scheduled practices such as monthly or weekly goalie clinics, professional private or small group lessons, or a stipend to find their own training. Along with additional training outside of their regular practices, six of the top ten teams also have on ice goalie coaches available either by request or as part of the team’s staff.
Another important factor that the FGRE came across was that all but two organizations provided free use of goaltending equipment at the younger levels and a few up through the peewee and even bantam levels. The cost of playing hockey is already higher than most sports. Goaltending equipment can easily double the assessment fee and may deter parents from letting their kids play the position. The use of free equipment may help parents with the burden of hockey costs.
~ Brian Daccord is a former goalie coach of the Boston Bruins and currently the goaltending coach of Adler Mannheim in the German DEL. He is a co-founder of the Foundation for Goaltending Research and Education and founder of Stop It Goaltending. Matt Ouellette is a former goaltender and an Endicott College graduate.