In control of the goal

Park’s goalie dynasty continues


Abby Bartleson

Sophomore Josh Middleton prepares to block a shot against Benilde-St. Margaret’s Jan. 22. Park lost 0-3.

Aidan Shafton

For years, Park hockey fans and players alike have been treated to exceptional goalie talent, most recently coming from sophomore Josh Middleton. Senior defenseman Ben Olson said ‘having a reliable goalie makes the whole team better.

“The goalie is probably the most important player on the ice. When you know that your most important player is your best player, it’s a complete difference,” Olson said. “Having a brick wall behind us really boosts our confidence because we know we can trust him if we make a mistake.”

Middleton is part of a long list of goalies at Park who have heavily impacted the team. Other notable goalies include 2020 graduate Will Pinney, who plays for Hamline University and 2016 graduate Conor Klaers, who is the current goalie for Notre Dame.

Middleton said the keys to being an effective goalie at the high school level comes from work off the ice.

“There’s specific gyms that help with your eyesight and your tracking ability,” Middleton said. “Being goalie is a really special position so using all your brain power and your nerve is key.”

Former Park head coach Tim Donahue said the goalie’s performance on the ice is the catalyst for how the rest of the team plays.

“A team will go based on how their goaltender is playing. If you have a really good goaltender, the team will respond. Having a good goalie can also help if you’re not playing very well,” Donahue said. “If you have a goalie that can keep you in a game, you can make adjustments between periods and the team can pick it up and start playing better in front of the goaltender. If you’ve got a good one back there, you’ve got a chance every night out.”

According to Olson, there are multiple aspects to their game that make these goalies outstanding.

“Their mobility is insane,” Olson said. “They work so hard during the offseason and they’re always ready for the season. They never start slow and they’re always ready for anything that comes at them. What’s important is that they make saves that the average goalie won’t make.”

According to Donahue, in order for a goalie to reach their full potential, coaches need to personalize their training to maximize their skills. 

“You have to spend time with them, especially as a head coach.” Donahue said. “Even though I was not a goaltending specific coach, I learned that it was really important for me to spend time with them and work with them. Sometimes I would look up some new drills so I could bring something a little different that they hadn’t done before, but paying attention to him is everything.”

Park’s next game is against Waconia at 7 p.m. Jan. 25 at the St. Louis Park Recreation Center.