Hockey can really be a dangerous sport when you have your guard down, especially when your back is turned. Sure, getting hit from behind is dangerous, but that’s not where I’m going with this. No, I’m talking about warm-up. There are certain courtesies in the pre-game, on-ice warm-up that are expected to be followed Warm-ups are as much for goalies as they are for players; therefore, consideration for your goalies’ safety is really important.
First of all, please, do not shoot the puck when a goalie is not looking. During warm-up, chances are there will be a point when the goalie will be clearing pucks away and putting them back to where they should be. During this time it’s quite important to hold back your urge to let a hard shot go ? just skate the puck back to wherever you came from. If you shoot a puck and hit your goalie, even in the side, that can really hurt especially when she isn’t expecting it.
A goalie’s chest protector only goes around the front and most of the way around the sides. Apart from the thin spinal padding (which is thinner than a layer of your hockey sock), most equipment does not protect the back. There are also plastic parts of the buckles on the side which, again, really hurt if they get jammed into you, especially with the force of a puck backing it.
Any skater who has ever blocked a shot and had it miss the padding should know first-hand how this sort of impact can turn into one of the nastiest looking bruises that can swell up and even break.
It is a dangerous thing to shoot from any angle when a goalie isn’t looking. In fact, forget the goalie, it’s dangerous to do so when anyone is in front of the net and not looking. When it comes to a game, go for it and do what you need to do to score, but when there are dozens of pucks on the ice to deal with during warm-up, make sure that the puck that you’re using is the one with everyone’s eyes on it so no one gets hurt.
And please, don’t say you have good enough aim that you won’t hit anyone. NHL players whiff too ?it happens, so please just don’t try it.
During the on-ice warm-up, it also really does not help if you try and deke around the goalie. Dekes demand faster movements and may require the goalie to go right then make a sudden stop and then change to moving left in the same motion, and doing this too early in warm-up can just cause injury.
Shots in warm-ups usually come within five seconds of each other, so really there isn’t the time for you to deke. Often, someone will try and deke in the warm-up, the goalie will try to make the save, and then immediately have to get up and find where the next shot is coming from. But sometimes that shot is already airborne heading for the net because sadly, some people will still be shooting when the goalie isn’t ready (see above!).
If you want to practice moving your hands and getting your wrists loose during warm-up, get a few pucks and set up a triangle in your line and practice weaving a puck through that. The goalie is not the person to practice doing that with during an on-ice warm-up. If you want to try a deke on ice, wait till the last few seconds of the warm-up and ask your goalie beforehand if it’s all right.
I used to follow most dekes during warm-up, but now I only will attempt one or two; the rest can go right around me because my main focus before a game is to simply get a feel for the puck and get ready. Although I’m really flexible, I don’t want to take the chance of pulling something before the game even starts.
Similarly, one of my least favourite things anyone can do during warm-up is the billion-pass manoeuver. For any warm-up drill that requires a 2-on-0, 2-on-1, or 3-on-1, you do not need to pass the puck in a continuous tic-tac-toe. Once you get to the top of the circle you have a max of two passes. Once you get to the hash marks, you only have one pass left. In no way does it help anyone to make more than that. No one has the time in a game to make four passes right in front of the net in the slot and a goalie sure can’t move from one post to the other three times before the shot comes from those quick-touch passes. Remember, the point is to warm the goalie up. Not have them try and play Superman to make a save.
Finally, please, oh please, don’t shoot high. Shooting high, whether you mean to or not, sometimes will lead to being hit in the head. Nobody wants to get a face full of puck, especially not before a game. Shooting low helps your goalie get the feel of going into the butterfly and the feeling of the puck hitting the pad-down properly. I have had warm-ups where I get hit in the head three times in that short three minute warm-up period that we’re given. That ear-ringing sensation is not a pleasant thing at all to have right as a big game begins.
Just for courtesy sake, if nothing else, please do not do any of the above. It might cause pain ? and warm-up is meant to do the exact opposite and prevent injury. Help your team by helping us goalies get game ready.