Ready For Liftoff

Warren Strelow National Goaltending Camp Provides Attendees A Springboard Into The Season

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Being a goaltender can be a lonely business, especially when things aren’t going well. Standing between the pipes is often equated to being alone on an island. It’s a solitary position that is only understood by other masked men and women. So, having the opportunity to hang out with other members of the goalie nation this week at the Warren Strelow National Goaltending Camp was a welcome opportunity for these talented young puck stoppers. 


Over the course of four days, some of the nation’s top young top netminders ate, drank and slept all things goalie at the USA Hockey Arena.


“Being around other goalies is always fun,” said Noah Grannan of Germantown, Wis. “We’re all kind of weird in our own ways, so being with the guys on and off the ice gives you a chance to see how they approach things and steal some of their little tricks. And talking with the coaches and doing goalie things 24/7 is awesome.”


Named after the late Warren Strelow, the first goalie coach who served in that same capacity for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, the invitation-only camp features many of the top U.S. goaltenders eligible for international play within select age groups. Normally reserved for up-and-coming goalies, this year’s camp also featured a number of professional goalies, including Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings along with Phoenix Copley of the Washington Capitals and Charlie Lindgren of the Montreal Canadiens.


“It was great to be in meetings with them and listen to how they think and how they see the game,” said Adam Scheel of Lakewood, Ohio. “That’s where we all want to be some day so you try to take it all in.”


“Being on the ice with them and seeing their work ethic and how they handle themselves in such a proper and professional way with everything they do and getting their feedback and their opinions was really good,” Grannan added.


For Red Wings draft pick Keith Petruzzelli, just being around Howard for an extended period of time provided a glimpse into the work ethic and commitment needed to reach the pinnacle of the profession.


“He’s obviously incredibly knowledgeable about the position having been in the league for 14 years,” said Petruzzelli, a sophomore at Quinnipiac College. “He’s just a great guy to talk to and a great guy to know.”


Another change to the camp was moving it from May to August, which creates a perfect precursor to the season.


“I love how they moved the camp to August this year because you’re able to learn all these new things as you’re going right into the season,” Petruzzelli said. “It’s a perfect springboard for your season.”

Change has been a constant as the camp has grown over its 11 years. One thing that has remained the same is the mantra that no matter where you are in the game, there is always room for improvement.


“The camp continues to get better each year, but ultimately what gets better is the number of goalies that we have to choose from,” said Joe Exter, the driving force behind the camp’s creation. “That’s why the program was created, to expand our depth and give us more options for international competition.”


Each day featured several on-ice sessions in addition to dryland training and video review. Players were also treated to classroom presentations that focused on what it takes to make it to the highest levels of the game and stay there. By the time the sun set over USA Hockey Arena, most couldn’t wait for their heads to hit the pillow.


“It was definitely a lot of hard work,” said Boston native Drew Commesso. “It was a lot of fun to be out here with so many great coaches and great goalies. It was the first time I’ve been here with so many high-caliber goalies so it was fun to see the difference between my game and theirs.”


It wasn’t just the goalies who left town with a game plan for the season. Some of the top positional coaches around the country used the on-ice sessions and after-hours gatherings to talk shop and compare notes on how best to help develop the next generation of goalies.


“We had a lot of new coaches who brought some excellent ideas to the camp,” Exter said. “That helps us to grow as a staff because it allows us to bounce ideas off of each other. The camp continues to get better each year. That’s the goal of this camp and anything you do in life. You have to continue to improve and get better.”

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