Friday, October 22, 2010

The Tale of the Goalie

Boston Bruins Andrew Ference (L), goaltender Tim Thomas (C) and David Krejci celebrate after winning against Czech team Bili Tygri Liberec during the Bruins NHL pre-season international friendly ice hockey game in Liberec October 5, 2010. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)


Is it any wonder then that goaltenders, regardless of sport, are misunderstood?

I interviewed a soccer goalie last week for a piece for another publication, and when I asked her how she got her start in goalkeeping, she laughed and said it was when her dad told her she was too slow to play on the field. Other goalies, regardless of sport, often find themselves finding their path in a similar fashion - they aren't quick at traveling distances, but they don't mind having pucks or balls flying at a high speed at their bodies.

That being said, a goalie is never fearless - they are just the opposite. They are filled with fear. That's why Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas literally stands on his head - and when I say that, I mean he really finds himself with his head on the ice and his skates in the air - because of this terror he's developed of letting the puck in net. When the entire point of your existence is to keep an object out of a certain small area, of course you're going to obsess to the point of terror.

When your existence depends on that one task, others tend to place the blame squarely on you when you get scored on. Fans, especially casual or new ones, are not going to notice a turnover by a forward, a deflection by a defender, or an uncalled crease violation. It is is always all the goalie's fault, even if their own defense screens them or, in the case of UMass rookie goalie Jeff Teglia last Saturday night versus Boston University, your own defender lays you out when you come out to play the puck. Teglia's helmet was knocked off in the hit, but he stayed in the game, while probably wanting to start a brawl against his own teammate.

So of course, goalies are going to be a little strange. They're going to do some things a little out of the ordinary. Like when BU's Daily Free Press profiled then-goalie (now AHL Wilkes-Barre Scranton goalie) John Curry during his senior year, and his teammates and roommates divulged that Curry's favorite pastime was staying up at all hours of the night trying to beat "12 year olds" playing online Tiger Woods Golf. Curry didn't care what kind of blow-out party was going on around him, he only wanted to beat a teenage gamer from who knows where.

And if we're talking about strange goalies, you don't get more eclectic than professional lacrosse player Brett Queener. Queener plays field for the National Lacrosse League's Boston Blazers during the winter, but turns into a goalie for the Toronto Nationals of Major League Lacrosse during the summer. A previous recipient and constant nominee for the Inside Lacrosse "Laxie" for Personality of the Year, he has made his mark by his crazy mustaches and his penchant for coming out of goal, switching from a goalie stick to a short stick while running down the field, and playing offense. He's also one of the only goalies you'll ever see entering and winning a trick shot competition, and probably one of the only athletes period to ever thank "Flutie Flakes" during an award acceptance. (Only true Western New Yorkers know the magical power of the cereal of our teenage years.)

By virtue of their job, goalies are going to have quirks. Anyone who can so easily be blamed for everything - even if it's not really their fault - is going to need something to keep them distracted and sane. Can you blame them?

Kat Hasenauer Cornetta is a freelance sports writer in Boston, MA. You can find her writing at SBNation Boston, The College Baseball Blog, Examiner.com, and Inside Lacrosse. She also works on the Hockey on Campus radio show. Follow her on Twitter here.

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