St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen spent his weekend mentoring aspiring goalies back home in New Brunswick — with a focus on thinking as much as playing the game.
The Fredericton native, who's made his NHL debut for the Blues in 2012, said he started the Jake Allen Fantasy Goalie Camp for Bantam AAA youth from across the province.
The camp, which ran Sunday and Monday in Fredericton, was part of Allen's not-for-profit Program 34, and he hopes it will improve the youths' skills, consistency and confidence.
The 28 goalies attending didn't just practise on the ice but also took sessions inside the classroom, where Allen and guest lecturers handed out "some wisdom and some mental tips," he said.
"I think a lot of goalies have all the skill in the world, especially nowadays, but that's only half the battle," he said.
"I think knowing how to play the game and understanding the game, and understanding your game — I think that's the biggest thing that makes the difference in the long run."
'Like the intensity'
Allen added that the camp was free of charge, so parents wouldn't worry about money to pay for training, meals and accommodation, which can be very expensive.
The goalies attending the training were also handpicked by Hockey New Brunswick, with three or four kids from each region of the province.
"I think it's pretty cool to have 28 kids here from all over the province, to have a free camp for a couple of days, I think they really enjoyed it," Allen said.
Colin MacDiarmid, one of the goalies at the camp, said it was a lot of fun and Allen was good about giving advice.
By the end of the second day, he felt pretty tired, MacDiarmid said.
"Its some hard work," he said.
MacDiarmid added that he fell in love with goaltending when he was six years old and started volunteering in the net.
"I like the intensity, because you don't get to take shifts off, you have to work 110 per cent every time," he said.
Allen added that a lot of people helped him get on the ice, so he wanted to give some of that back to New Brunswick's youth.
Whether the young goalies will have a chance to play in the NHL is up to their skill and their ability to make the most of opportunities, he said.
There are two positions for goaltenders on each team, and only 60 positions within the NHL, "which puts you on the limited side there," he said.
'I really want to try to aspire to produce some more goal tenders out of the province, some more athletes and good kids.' - Jake Allen, goaltender
"If you get an opportunity and you're good enough you just got to make the most of it, and you get noticed and then you can hopefully move on to the next level and that's what I did," he said.
"I really want to try to aspire to produce some more goaltenders out of the province, some more athletes and good kids."