Park’s goalie corps has teamwork at its core

Despite the competitive nature of the position, players work together to improve


Maggie Klaers

Seniors Flynn Spano and William Pinney talk center ice after practice Jan. 31. Spano and Pinney spent the first portion of practice working on goalie skills.

Goalies hold a special position in hockey, according to goalie coach Dan Nispel, not only because of the necessary skills, but also the nature of the position.

Maggie Klaers
Spano said he chose to be a goalie because he like the equipment. “At the beginning it was really just the pads, I thought the pads were really cool, so I decided to play goalie and the association needed goalies, so it kind of just worked out.”

“Hockey goaltending is interesting because in hockey it’s a skill set that none of the other players really have. The skating techniques are different, training is different and it’s essentially an individual sport in a team game,” Nispel said. “You’re back there all alone and you’re part of the team, but you’re also somewhat separate. You can influence the game more than any other player.”

Senior and goalie Flynn Spano said the relationship between the goalies is simultaneously supportive and competitive.

“All three of us are really competitive and so we really all strive to be better than the other ones, but we’re all really good friends,” Spano said. “We applaud each other when one of us makes a good save and pick each other up when we get scored on, but most of the time we’re competing and trying to outplay the other goalies.”

According to Nispel, the goalies typically spend the first 15 or so minutes of practice working together on goalie-specific drills, then rejoin the rest of the team to incorporate these skills into game-like situations. Spano said while one goalie is in the net during a drill, the other two are standing nearby talking; this time together leads to more bonding among the group.

“We’ve got one of the best goalies in the state, but then we’ve got two more guys who are supporting him,” Nispel said. “(Senior Will) Pinney gets most of the ice at the varsity level and these other guys, instead of being jealous or something like that, they really support him and he supports them too. It’s a good relationship.”

Spano said this relationship between the goalies has fostered personal growth for himself.

“It’s made me a lot better and it’s helped me with discipline. Sophomore year I used to get really mad when I got scored on,” Spano said. “Having other people to talk to and pick you up when you’re down, it helps me stay focused and not get too mad.” 

Nispel said having a support system is essential when it comes to maintaining a positive attitude and playing with full potential.

Maggie Klaers
According to Pinney, he began his goalie career in order to get his friends involved in the sport. “I started out playing hockey and I wanted to play hockey with my other friends, but none of them wanted to play hockey unless there was a goalie so I always got suckered into playing goalie,” Pinney said.

“Between the goalies it’s really all positive talk — helping each other to work better in a positive way,” Nispel said. “Especially for goalies, since it can be kind of an individual game while you’re in it, having a support system outside of the game is really, really important. Having a good one can impact your performance a lot.”

According to Spano, focusing on where the puck is at any given time allows him to be better prepared.

“I try to work on following the puck with my eyes a lot, and keeping track of the shots and where they go and if they get tip, trying to follow them,” Spano said. “(I) make sure that my tracking stays where it needs to be, so I’m ready if something were to happen to Will.”

Spano said he’s been fortunate to have teammates who keep him enthused about playing hockey.

“I’ve been fortunate enough that the groups of guys that have been on the team have been really nice to be with and really fun,” Spano said. “It’s been easy for me to keep coming back because I love hockey and they make it really easy to love it.”