In the developmental stages of hockey and beyond, the person behind the mask is often forgotten, but one man is making certain Kootenay goaltenders get the recognition and instruction they deserve.
Alex Evin is a goaltender and Castlegar native who has taken the initiative and started his own goaltender consulting business under the banner of NL Goal.
Evin played his minor hockey in Castlegar before embarking on a briliant five-year BCHL career that led to two All-star team selections and a Fred Page Cup with the Penticton Vees. He earned a full scholarship to Colgate University where he graduated and then returned to the Kootenays. A tryout with the Abbotsford Heat in the fall, a team waist-deep in solid goaltenders, resulted in Evin’s return to the area.
“I obviously wanted to play pro this year, but it just didn’t work out to get a good enough spot to get into an NHL system,” said Evin who was also chosen by the Calgary Hitmen in the Bantam draft. “So while I was here, I got hired in Trail (Smoke Eaters) in the summer and I figured that would just be temporary before I went away to camps but I came back and started working with the goaltenders there. I just really enjoyed it and thought while I was in the area I might as well branch out a bit and provide my services to not just only the Trail Smoke Eaters, so it just grew from there.”
As a goalie coach, the 26-year-old went on to help Alex Sirard backstop the Selkirk College Saints to a BCIHL championship, the league’s lowest goals against, and a top goalie award, he also coached Adam Todd and Lyndon Stanwood of the Smoke Eaters to season highs in wins, and helped the Beaver Valley Avalanche goaltending tandem of Jarrod Schamerhorn and Zach Perehudoff come to within a goal of the Neil Murdoch division title.
“All the goalies took a step in their playing career, they all improved and played really well, and they enjoyed it so it was good that way.”
Todd was particularly impressive in goal as the Smoke Eaters battled for a playoff spot. After joining the Smokies in October Todd went 11-5 with a shutout and was brilliant down the stretch winning four of his last five starts.
“I give a lot of credit to my goalie coach, Alex Evin,” said Todd. “We worked pretty hard together and I can thank him for that. I just feel really confident and really, really calm in there.”
While Evin spent much of his time this past season with junior and college clubs, he is looking to fulfill a larger role in instructing young goalies as well.
“When I was very, very young, there was maybe one goalie camp that came here for maybe one weekend the whole time I was here . . . just the way hockey is, coaches don’t take time to consider the needs of their goaltenders. There is a lot of specific technique and especially the mental side of things that its tough for coaches to relate to their goaltenders so it’s good to have someone around. I never had that when I was younger so I am going to try to provide this opportunity in the Kootenays and see what happens, and hopefully people take advantage of it.”
A goalie camp in Kaslo earlier this year was a good indication to Evin that their was indeed a niche that needed to be filled.
“That is why I want to build something here,” he added. “I went up to Kaslo and there was eight goalies in their minor hockey association and I think six or seven of them showed up . . . and it was great to see, because none of those goaltenders had ever been on the ice with a goalie coach before.”
This summer Evin will be working with junior goalies and holding a minor hockey camp in Nelson July 29 to Aug. 3, and will help out at the Champions Hockey School.