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Caps, Goalies and Youth

(TWP file photo by Preston Keres)

After hearing how Jose Theodore was pushed into goal by four older brothers who needed a target, I asked a few other people at KCI for their youth goalie stories.

"Last time I played goal was maybe when I was 10, against a pretty inferior team," Brooks Laich said. "My dad stuck me in goal so that the score wouldn't get run up very much. I had to play two periods in goal, and then I started to go crazy and they let me back out."

I summarized Theodore's story of sibling influence; "you ask a lot of the goalies, they usually have older brothers," Laich said. "I know I stuck my brother in net a few times, and then also one of my best buddies that we always used to play road hockey with, I guess I was a little more dominant so I said 'I get to shoot,' and he played a lot of net for me when we were growing up."

Laich also said that plenty of kids fool around in net during youth leagues.

"I think most kids actually want to try it," he said. "It seems like a fun position, you get to put pads on....I'm sure every kid's played goal in road hockey at one point or another. But I couldn't even fathom sitting here now having grown men firing 90 mile an hour pucks at me."

But the "most kids" thing didn't apply to Bruce Boudreau, who scoffed when the subject of youth net-minding was raised.

"No, never, never wanted to lot try it," he said. "All my kids did, and my one young son IS a goalie. Still trying to talk him out of it."

Why didn't he want to try?

"Because if they score, everybody yells at you," Boudreau explained. "When you're a kid, you don't like that. My daughter started wanting to play goal. She says, 'Oh, I want to be a goalie, I want to be a goalie.' So we let her in. She lost 10-nothing the first game. She threw the stuff and she never played goal since. So it's not good."

Brent Johnson in goal wasn't surprising, since his dad was an NHL goalie, but he said he played both in and out of net during his first five years of hockey, alternating as a blue-liner.

"I was considered the best one-handed defenseman in the league," Johnson joked yesterday.

But by the time he was 9 or 10, Johnson started getting serious about the sport, and he stopped leaving the goal.

"My dad told me, 'Hey listen, you've got the option,' " Johnson remembered. " 'If you like it, you like it, if you don't you don't. Try on the pads.' I tried them on and never took them off."

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 29, 2009; 12:43 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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When Brooks Laich just looks at the goal, it parts like the Red Sea to let his shot in.

Posted by: just_say_ov | January 29, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I ended up volunteering to play goalie for my gym hockey team in the fifth grade after our starting goalie gave up nine goals in the first half of the first game and quit the position. I only gave up four in the second half of the game and ended up there the rest of the year. But our team wasn't very good and it was not fun--even though I was able to pretend I was a young Mike Palmeteer (Caps goalie at the time). I went back to being a forward in sixth grade.

Posted by: TheFingerman | January 29, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

My youngest brother has always played goalie. He's a catcher too, so we always figured he just liked to wear all that gear.

I played goalkeeper one year in soccer. Pretty much killed my enthusiasm for the sport over the next 10-15 years.

Posted by: tha_prophet | January 29, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Goalie is for fat kids.

Posted by: ThisGuy | January 29, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

My two sons began with kitchen hockey. The pantry was the goal - my youngest son used our spaghetti strainer as a mask and has been in goal since. Once on the ice the first time he caught a puck square on the helmet - he shook it off and simply said - That was cool. He hasn't looked back.

Posted by: mplant7103 | January 29, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I always played wing growing up but wanted to play goal. It was too expensive and my parents didn't think I would stick with it. When I got my first job I saved up enough for pads and played every second I could.

I still love it 6 years later but occasionally in the off season I'll play defense in roller hockey.

Posted by: zephyr33 | January 30, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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