College coaches help local junior goalies | AspenTimes.com

College coaches help local junior goalies

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

University of Minnesota goaltending coaches Justin Johnson (left) and Andy Kent get ready for a clinic at the Aspen Ice Garden. The two visited Aspen through a program with Aspen Junior Hockey.

The puck stops here.

The last line of defense for any hockey team — from the Aspen Squirts to the Denver Cutthroats to the Chicago Blackhawks — is the skater in goal: the goaltender.

A special clinic for those specialized goaltenders was sponsored locally by Aspen Junior Hockey, bringing in two elite college goaltending coaches — Andy Kent and Justin Johnson.

"With the limited time we have here, we are trying to touch on a little of everything in goaltending," said Kent, the longtime goalie coach of the University of Minnesota women's hockey team. "Basic fundamentals, all the basics."

Kent said that he and Johnson worked with coaches as well as junior players in the valley. They held a clinic in Glenwood Springs with Grizzly Hockey.

They held similar clinics in Aspen with Shaun Hathaway of Aspen Junior Hockey, the driving force behind the collegiate coaching visit.

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"Hopefully, the players can take some of it and apply it … in the games and in their practices," Kent said. "Coaches, too. We want to give the coaches some drills that they can use after we leave."

Kent also is the boys hockey goalie coach at Roseville High School in Minnesota. And he's director of goaltending development with MEGA Goaltending. He's also coached with Quest Goaltending.

"We're trying to be a resource (for the players and coaches)," said Johnson, who is in his fifth season as the men's goaltending coach at the University of Minnesota.

"I think the kids (who play goalie) … appreciate that."

He said he and Kent enjoy working with all ages, but they really enjoy the younger goaltenders.

"We really get a charge out of seeing kids try something new or build off what they've learned," Johnson said. "Sometimes, it's a matter of them believing they can do something. Then, seeing them execute it is awesome."

Johnson, a four-year letterman for the Minnesota Gophers (2001-05), was an assistant coach at St. Cloud State from 2006 through 2008.

He's taught at camps for 12 years, including stints at the U.S. National Advanced Camps.

"This was a perfect time for us," Kent said. "We go back (to their college teams) right after New Year's."

The two collegiate goaltending specialists saw ice time at the Aspen Ice Garden, the Lewis Ice Arena and the Glenwood Springs Recreation Center Rink during the holiday clinics in the Roaring Fork Valley.

"Now, we have to go back to work," Kent said.

For the record, the Lewis Ice Arena in Aspen will host the minor league Denver Cutthroats of the Central Hockey League for games Jan. 3 and Jan. 4.

dstrode@aspentimes.com

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