The Quiet Goalie

Here’s a post that I’ve been meaning to post for quite some time and just now finally getting around to writing.

Why won’t you talk to me?


Goals can be a good time to grab a break.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out one thing about the entire goalie position.   Take a look at the design of a goalie helmet and you might notice that it is extremely protective.   The cage has lots of bars in front of the face to keep pucks (and butt ends of sticks) out.  A large chunk of your face is covered by the helmet, leaving only enough for basic peripheral vision.    The chin of the masks drops really low to protect one’s throat.  Oh, and a goalies mouth is almost always entirely blocked by that same chin area.

And back to the lesson learned — nobody can understand a word you say while wearing the brain bucket.  Talk all you want, but they can’t see your mouth moving and they, too, are wearing a helmet with their own ears obscured.

Worse yet, people can’t see your facial expressions, so sarcasm and joking are all but impossible!

And if only to compound this fiasco, I now wear a mouthguard .  Even though it is a good mouthguard that allows me to speak decently enough, (a chipped molar during play once and decided rec hockey wasn’t worth concussions and dental visits) it definitely adds another obfuscation layer.

But you keep ignoring me!

Of course, your D wants to talk to you (and apologize, even if it was your 5-hole that failed the team), but they sometimes take it personally when you appear to be ignoring them.   For this, I must apologize and explain.

That same head cage that keeps me from being able to effectively talk to you also hinders communication going the other way.   Unlike a player helmet, a goalie helmet typically has zero (zip, nada, zilch, nada) ear holes to let sound it.   As if that wasn’t bad enough, imaging having a drum cymbal attached to your earlobes and making a loud crashing sound every single time you move your head.  Yes, this is what a throat dangler can sound like (but believe me, having had my neck saved several dozens of times the things are worth it!).

So, chances are good that if you try to talk to me when you are outside of my field of view I won’t hear you.  If you talk to me in a normal tone of voice, I won’t hear you.   If you don’t get my attention before you start the conversation, I might not hear you.  And even if you do everything right and manage to let me see your mouth so I can add lip-reading into the mix, I will typically only get 50-75% of what you say.

In other words, expect me to spend the next attempting to parse your joke, only to be lucky enough to laugh at it by the time you next get on the ice.

Caveat:  All the above said, I can say that I do manage to hear things (good & bad) shouted at me within the vicinity of the crease.  “Good Save”,  “Hate you!”, “Thief!”, “Gotchya!”.

You must be mad at me, you turned your back!

Play stops and players are lining up for a face off.   Or a goal is scored and the ref comes and gets the puck.   Either way, I get 10-15 seconds to grab a drink of water and get a quick face wash.  I’m not mad that you lollygagged your ass on backchecking and allowed a 3 on 1 play to develop.  Seriously, I’m just hot and thirsty and need to make the most of my short break “between shifts”.  Not sure when I’ll get another one!

What did we learn today?

Conversation ensues

"That's my puck, get off of it!"

Let’s recap — I’m not mad, nor am I ignoring you.  Heck, I’m not even particularly quiet.  We just have an impediment to casual communication.   That said, more often than not, the punchy one-liners do get across and make for a fun game. So keep on chatting!

I guess this one counts

Well, they say any goal is a good goal.     While I don’t necessarily agree with that one, if it goes on the scoreboard I guess it is a goal.    This holds true even if the net ends up all the way back against the boards with the goalie embedded in the mesh and a player is lying top of him.

When I see a player coming into me, I usually take one of two approaches:

  1. EJECT! EJECT! EJECT!     I’d rather play another day than have some bozo land on my knee and snap some tendons.   Sure, they get a goal, but they also find that the cold steel post leaves a lasting memory.
  2. Elbows Up and Hold On!  When ejecting from the crease is not an option, I have (finally) learned to tighten up, lead with the elbows (or blocker, or stick) and hold on for the ride.  While I tend to be a little softer than a post, the least I can do is help remind skaters that I’m a big guy and I have sharp skates and elbows.

In the following sequence, I don’t think I even had a chance.   I pretty much remember simply ending up with my back against the netting and the net all the way back against the back boards.   I’m glad Jason was there to capture this one, ’cause it confirmed my suspicion that my ‘D had something to do with it.

(Oh, and somewhere in that tangle, you can see that the bloody puck found a way in! )

Bret Sewell carrying the puck, Frank Savino heading for him

Bret Sewell carrying the puck, Frank Savino heading for him

Bret Sewell carrying the puck, Frank Savino heading for him

Bret Sewell carrying the puck, Frank Savino on him

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, into Red

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, into Red. How'd the puck get there?

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, into Red

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, flying into Red

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, into Red

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, flying into both Red and the post

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, into Red

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, flying into both Red and the entire net now heads to the boards

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, into Red

Bret Sewell knocked off his skate by Frank Savino, flying into both Red and the post with the entire net against the boards and the puck (and Red) both inside the net.

Goalie Dreams…

Typically one should not publically discuss the happenings in one’s bed with one’s wife, but this is just too good a story to pass up.   This happened sometime in 2007, I believe.

Continue reading Goalie Dreams…

Goalie Thoughts: Whining About Starting In Net


I tell any new goalies that I meet that the first 3 months are the hardest ever. I’m a former athlete (swimmer) and played goalie in soccer growing up. But starting out goalie in ice hockey was a completely different experience. I’ll whine about starting out in this post, so that in the next post I can list some great goalie resources and web sites.
Continue reading Goalie Thoughts: Whining About Starting In Net

Keg Photo!

Once again, time to thank Jason Molenda for taking the following photo.

Wrapping up a great season with a couple of great teams. Below is our Tuesday night team, the Nomads, posed in front of the (puff-paint) painted “Stanley Keg”. It was an exciting game….complete with a tieing goal with 90 seconds remaining. After a short overtime, we went into shoot-out, with each goalie letting in 1 apiece after 3 shooters. The 4th shooter settled the matter…..and we took the Keg. Go team!

2008 Tuesday Night Keg Winners: The Nomads

Goalie Thoughts: I Has A Flavor

Today, we’ll discuss one of those less-than-obvious things about being a goalie (and player, too perhaps). Red is Smoking Hot with steam coming off his back.


While I have short hair, I’m currently sporting the (out-of-style) spiky look. To get said spiky look one has to use product. Not a lot, mind you, but some reasonably stiff hair gel of sorts. Continue reading Goalie Thoughts: I Has A Flavor

Goalie Thoughts: Petting the Monkey

Sorry about this, but today’s goalie thought gets a little touchy feely. I only ask that you not laugh at me too hard — I’m sensitive that way and, after all, I’m doing you the favor of letting you into the dark cobwebby corners of my twisted mind. Continue reading Goalie Thoughts: Petting the Monkey

Goalie Thoughts: Things I’ve Had Said to Me

We goalies get called a lot of things, some of them congratulatory, some of them not so much… here’s a random list of things I’ve been called or had said to me(recents and additions at the top).

last updated: March 27 2009

  • We’ve got Spaghetti (thanks Toasters…)
  • Don’t you think you’ve made enough good saves for one night?
  • Could you suck more, please?
  • “The goalie must be wearing some kind of magic pads”
  • You tease!
  • Nice work, gumby.
  • Whatever, Spiderman!
  • Go, Go, Gadget Go!
  • Nice Kung-Fu Batman.
  • Hey, mattress legs.
  • Biscuit hippie!
  • A 5-hole like a vegas stripper!
  • Standards: Goalie, Keeper, Net-man, wall, thief.

Goalie Thoughts: How Goalies Keep Score

Updated: 10/28/2008

This goalie thought is a little insight into how some of us cope with the numbers in lights on the end of the rink.

Yes, the score. You see, the score might determine who wins or loses, but it doesn’t tell the story of how it got that way. Nor does it tell the story of how any one team member played. I’ve had some of my best games in net on the losing side of the battle — there is only so much you can do.

So, in talking with other goalies, I’ve noticed how certain goals bother us more than others. We discount certain goals in our own heads (sure, they are real and they go up on the board). In fact, you can go as far a to say that we goalies have our own way of keeping score. The higher the point value, the worse our performance, kind of like the other team’s goal count (we like low numbers, eh?). So, here goes. Continue reading Goalie Thoughts: How Goalies Keep Score

Goalie Thoughts: Introduction

Time to start putting down some of my ramblings as an ice hockey goalie. Now, I can’t say I’m any good at being a goalie (although the Sharks are going to invite me training camp this year for sure!) or that I’ve been playing for very long (just barely 3 years now), but I can say that I’ve been averaging 3 – 5 games per week and that’s a lot of time spent sitting back there in my little crease with nothing to do but think and occasionally get in the way of frozen rubber.

Every goalie I have met is a little bit “different” (at least that is what we tell ourselves), and we all seem to have various coping mechanisms for the good and the bad times. For instance, imagine hanging out with the guy who put 3 goals in against ya — he’s bragging about scoring 3 measly goals forgetting that you stoned him on his 15 other shots.

I am going to start up a little themed series of Goalie Thoughts. Some of these thoughts will be discussions I have had with other goalies and others will be musings. I’ve got a few ideas in mind, and I’ve been meaning to post them for quite some time.

Keep in mind that by no means are any of them “authoritative”, but they may be good reads into the mind of yours truly and how this particular goalie copes.

Happy reading!