A goaltender is one of the mysterious positions in hockey. It’s extremely unique compared to the other five players on the ice. Goalies wear completely different equipment from a skater and play the most stressful position there is in the sport. So why would anyone want to become a goaltender in hockey? We’re starting a three-part series on how to become a goaltender, written by our friend, local goaltender, Joshua Frizzell. Before we get to the meat of the introduction, I spoke with Saundrine Lanouette, a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets Ice Crew and someone that grew in the position.

For Lanouette, becoming a goaltender wasn’t something she just thought she’d do at the start.

“As a Mite, our coach went around the locker room and asked who wanted to play goalie next,” said Lanouette. “I am not sure why, but I raised my hand. I had one practice under my belt and played my first game as the goaltender two days later. I let in 10 goals! We did win the game 11-10 though! The real question is what kid lets in 10 goals and decides ‘that was fun! I should do it again!’ Apparently me.”

Some people just tend to find that become a goalie was their destiny and they didn’t even realize it.

“Like anything, nothing comes easy in life but for some reason I really found my niche being a goaltender,” continued Lanouette. “I am lucky enough to have very supportive parents who drove me to early morning practices, allowed me to play on multiple teams (sometimes having two games a day), and signed me up for hockey camps during the summer. All the ice time I was fortunate enough to have growing up really paid off by my future success in the sport.”

As you’ll read below, it’s just about doing it. If you have the want to try out goaltending, just try it out. Find a way.

“Do it and stick with it,” explained Lanouette. “Being a goaltender is such a rewarding position through its ups and its downs. Being a female in a male dominated sport growing up it was tough to be taken serious. Once the males on my team realized I was their last line of defense they really started to respect me as a teammate.”

For those wondering, Lanouette was phenomenal in net. She won the Maine State Championship while playing with Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine. During the year, she posted a 21-0 record and only allowed five goals the entire season.

Read on below as Joshua Frizzell begins your journey on becoming a goaltender.


The Basics

Almost every hockey fan sees the guy in the cool looking gear saving their team’s hide all night and thinks, “That guy is NUTS! No way would I stand between a 90 MPH slapshot, and the destination of said slapshot.”  There is also a very select group of hockey fans that say, “man that looks like fun, I would love to absolutely rob that jerk Sidney Crosby on a wicked glove save.”

Like so many other things, a lot of getting into hockey, and goaltending specifically, is just jumping in the deep end.  That was me 17 years ago.  I was 15 years old playing street hockey with some friends.  I was the fat kid, and therefore I got stuck in net.  I didn’t know any different so I went along with it.  My love affair with goaltending started there and grew into a near obsession with the game and the position.  Even though people may want to play the game, a lot of people are scared of just jumping in.  The best place to start if you have never skated is to just go to public skates at your local rink.  Once you have decided that you like skating, keep going and get better at skating.  Believe it or not, even though goalies may not look like they are doing a lot, skating wise. They are usually one of the best skaters on the team.  Learn to skate first.  It is the building block of everything goalie.

Goalie Gear

Goalie Gear

Once you have figured out how to not kill yourself on the ice, and you think you actually want to be a goalie, it’s time to get some equipment and see if you really like getting shots fired at your face.  Starting out, you can either try to borrow equipment from your local rink, or a friend.  If you have money to burn, then find some used equipment from Play It Again, or sites like eBay or Craigslist to try out first.  You can get some good deals on used, pro-level equipment, you just have to search.  If you have a lot of money to burn, then I will always recommend going with new, pro-level equipment.  The quality of pro-level equipment is significantly better than the cheaper, lower level gear and will last a whole lot longer.  I learned the hard way of spending good money on cheap, new lower level gear and for the most part it doesn’t last and you will be buying gear more often.  Be aware: being a goalie is expensive. A new pair of pro level leg pads costs between $1400 – $1600, and that is just for leg pads.  There is a lot of other gear involved.  Speaking of spending money.  If you have your budget set out for buying equipment, spend the largest chunk you can on a helmet.  Everything else falls behind that.  Remember don’t cheap out on something that is saving your melon.

I will go more in depth about equipment and the sizing/features/options in my next feature, but here is a brief break down of what you will need:

  • Helmet: Preferably fiberglass, Kevlar or a mixture of both.
  • Chest Protector
  • Catch Glove:  This goes on the hand that you naturally catch with
  • Blocker:  Goes on the other hand
  • Sticks: I recommend getting 2.  In case of breakage.
  • Jock/Jill:  Yes the girl version of a jock is called a jill
  • Goalie Pants:  It is important to get goalie pants vs. just forward pants.  Goalie pants are much more protective.
  • Knee/Thigh guards:  These are optional to most, but a requirement in my list.  I have been hit too many times right on the knee cap to not always have these in my bag.
  • Leg pads
  • Skates

So there you have it, part one of a series of articles on becoming a goaltender.  Hopefully I have hooked you in to strapping on the pads and defending the net.  You are on your way to becoming a goalie.  Just like a lot of things in life, if you want to do something you just have to jump in there and do it.  My next article will be a deep dive into the equipment, and all of the options that go along with it.

Joshua Frizzell has been a part of the hockey community for 17 years. During that time, he has been involved in every aspect of the game. The journey started off by playing house leagues in Nashville, he then moved on to playing travel hockey and the leading to playing for Brentwood High School during the inaugural season of high school hockey in Tennessee. Joshua continued his success from high school by playing club hockey for the University of Tennessee. Joshua has also been an official for USA Hockey, and is currently a goaltending coach for the Hume Fogg/Page High School hockey team.

*Headline photo credit: Kristen Jerkins*