Thursday, July 26, 2018

Duluth (part two)

An assistance coach called Eli 16.11 the day before we were flying to Duluth. Just wanted to make sure he was coming, he said.

An hour after we touched down in Minneapolis, another coach called. Just wanted to verify he was coming.

"Are they mixing you up with another kid?" I asked, and Eli 16.11 burst out laughing.

That's foreshadowing, in case you're wondering.

This was a two day goalie evaluation first, with twenty-four goalies total (twelve each in two sessions). Eli needed to be in the top half to be taken to main camp.

After I dropped him off for the first session, I decided to go for a walk. I like to do that as often as I can, because it takes my mind off the anxiety I have about how important all of this is for him.

It wasn't promising, out on the main road, but I saw a dirt road just behind the rink, and when I followed it, I came to this:


Even better, just off the trail, I saw this:

Very high on the list of things I never expect to see: abandoned ski jump. 

I walked for about forty minutes, then went back in time to watch the session. 

Eli was good. Really, really good. 

Then there was a shootout at the end of the session, where each goalie faced five penalty shots. Pretty standard, for these things. 

Eli stopped all five. 

It was the way he did it, too, that was so impressive. Guys were taking weak shots on him, and I knew why: he was showing kids openings and then taking them away. They were trying to adjust, couldn't do it quickly enough, and wound up taking bad shots. 

That's high level play. 

Who else stopped all five shots? No one. He was on one side of the ice, by himself, and no one else stopped all five to join him. 

That's a statement. 

"I felt great," he said, when he came out to the car. "Did you see me make that half-split blocker save in the shootout?"

"I did," I said, "and I saw you showing kids things and taking them away."

"Oh yeah," he said. "That was solid. And all the coaches were talking to me."

That's a good start.

Site Meter