U of R hockey goalie shares position pros and cons

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Crouching for the save, or because you’ve had to go since first period? Arthur Images

Ever wondered how long a slapshot to the facemask makes a goalie’s ears ring?

The hockey season just started for the University of Regina’s Cougars, and the Carillon did an interview with a member of the men’s team: Brandon Holtby, who has been playing for the Cougars for five years now. He is currently studying Business Administration and majoring in Finance, completing his certificate in Economics, and is also the Chief Investment Officer for UR Investing.

You are a goalie for the Cougars team at the U of R. What do you mostly focus on when it comes to practice time?

I mostly try and focus on reacting to shots and keep my hand-eye coordination involved (basically focusing on the puck) in practice. It’s easy, with not playing a game for a week, to get relaxed in practice and lose that focus that goalies need to be sharp for games.

What does the Cougars hockey team schedule look like on a regular weekly basis between training, practices, and games?

The team schedule is decently busy. It starts with 9 am workouts Mondays and Wednesdays, then it’s followed by practice which is Mondays to Thursdays from (roughly) 4:15 pm-5:45 pm (…) Then we have two games every weekend on Fridays and Saturdays, and on Sundays we help at what’s called “Cougar Cubs” where we teach new-to-hockey kids how to skate and get to enjoy the game of hockey. We are split into groups for that so I’m not out there every Sunday, but one Sunday a month.”

As a goalie, say you have an opponent coming your way. What do you do or say when you have a teammate blocking your view of the puck?

This is a great question that I hope my teammates read, but when a teammate is in the way of me seeing the puck, I am usually screaming “get out of the way,” or “heads up I can’t see.” I try my best to call out their name if I have time (…) There is a lot of communication on the ice, so sometimes they don’t hear me, but using their name seems to work.

Even though we all know you don’t like being scored on, what is one goal that was hard to save and what was tricky about it?

I find some of the hardest goals to save are what’s from something called “moving screens.” This happens when the opposing team is about to shoot, and someone moves in front of (the goalie) and you never get to see the puck “release” from the ice. This is tough to react to as a goalie, as you don’t get the initial read on the puck’s direction and height at which it’s coming to the net at. This makes for a very difficult save, and is something I try to work on every day by training my reaction time in practice.

What is one of the toughest things about being goalie that you’d give yourself a toast for sticking through?

The position of goalie is the easiest position to visually see mistakes (made by the player). It doesn’t matter if you don’t play hockey or haven’t seen hockey before; most people can understand if a goal goes in, the goalie didn’t stop it. This is probably the toughest thing about being a goalie, but is also the reason I love it. To strive for perfection, of not letting in a goal, or to make a big save.

What was the worst injury that you have gotten on the ice? Did you power through it, or did you take the safe route and take a break?

I’ve honestly been lucky for the most part for injuries on the ice – knock on wood! I’ve gotten my arm slashed, fractured my left arm, and have gotten my bell rung with a knee to the head, or hitting my head on the post. But the worst injury so far is my ankle from my old skate, which I currently still play with. My old skate was too tight and tore my bursa sac in my ankle, which now is pretty big and gross, and I will need surgery on it once I’m done hockey. I’m hoping maybe to get surgery this summer.

What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome while playing hockey?

The biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome when it comes to playing hockey is the “politics” that come with hockey in Regina. I believe this goes beyond hockey and into all other sports, but knowing someone that played at a high level in hockey or merely having a lot of money will help you move forward in sports in youth hockey. It’s hard for some kids to make higher level teams – especially goalies, (because there are only) two of them on one team – at a young age because of these factors. It’s honestly a miracle I have made it this far, I didn’t play AA (tier 1) hockey – good hockey – until I was in grade nine, which was my “draft year” for the WHL. I now play against a lot of guys who played in the WHL, and play with a lot of guys in the WHL, but personally I never had a shot to play in the WHL starting that late.

What is it like to get hit with a slapshot in the face mask?

I’ll keep this one short – NOT good! In all honesty, it depends a lot on how it hits you, but it can hurt a lot. If you’re lucky sometimes it won’t hurt at all, and sometimes, this is the worst, it makes your ears ring for like a minute.

Who would you say is your funniest teammate?

This is tough, I think we have a lot of funny characters on our team, and everyone has a different sense of humour. However, for myself, I think the funniest guy on the team is Ben Duppereault. I might be a bit biased because he is the only other fifth year on the team with me and I’ve been around him a lot, but he’s someone that can make you smile or laugh every day at the rink with some joke. Or just by him being his goofy self.

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