The Mental Game A Rent-A-Goalie Plays

It’s a great backup strategy for teams, and it’s an easy strategy to utilize.  The goalie shows up, you collect $5 from your teammates, and you avoid that forfeit which, in some leagues, means a nasty financial penalty to go along with the ding in your win-loss column.  In other words if your goalie can’t make it you know that another one is only a website away.  As reassuring as it is for the team, it can surely be a mental bomb for the goalie that is covering the net.  There can be so many things a rent-a-goalie can be worrying about as they try to do their share in carving out a win for their team.

Let us look at some of the potentially worrisome thoughts that can occupy a rent-a-goalie’s minds:

1.     Unlike your normal starting goalie, rent-a-goalies get paid to play.  They’re doing a job – it just happens to be a job that they really enjoy.  The job is the same as your starting goalie – to stop as many pucks as possible.  Just as with any other goalie you’d use, there is no guarantee you’re getting a win.  That being said the fact that the goalie knows they will be taking money off your hands means that some unintended pressure is put on the goalie to get you the W.  The last thing you want to pay for is a poor game by a goalie you paid to show up.  See point 2.

2.     Matching the best goalie for your league’s skill level is guesswork.  Let’s say you select level B for the calibre of play on your goalie request form… what is level B?  For that matter, what is level C or D?  The ASHL at the Canlan Ice Sports ranks levels from A to E.  The ORHL in Oakville lists the levels of recreational, intermediate, and hall of fame.  The True North league in Brampton uses ex-NHLer names (Apps, Bower, etc)  What your team rep may consider B level can be very different than what the goalie considers himself as being B level, and at the end of the day there is no universal measuring tool… just a best guess.  Sometimes a goalie will inadvertently get him or her into a game at a higher level than what they are used to because their interpretation of level C is different from the team rep.  Is it a matter of fault?  Is it something blame-able?  No it shouldn’t be, but the goalie likely feels that way when they realize they’re in over their head.

3.     Lateness.  It happens.  For whatever reason and as unforeseeable as the lateness can be it still makes the goalie look terrible, which in turn causes complaints to the rent-a-goalie company.  I live in Milton, took a game in Oakville, and left a whole hour before the game.  You think it’d be plenty of time.  Unfortunately I encountered a long traffic line caused by a car collision at the intersection ahead of me.  Being in the rural twilight zone between Milton and Oakville there was no quick road to jump on to bypass it.  After spending 10 minutes just to get to the next road I came across the “road closed” sign after I turned onto it, forcing me to again find another bypass that involved backtracking in order to get around.  All this in a rural area with a limited selection of roads and quite a bit of space between them.  My fault for getting there late?  No.  Team upset at me for getting late?  Yep.  If it was my own team sure they wouldn’t be happy either but they’d be more understanding.  After all, with me, I’m being paid to be there.  I didn’t pay to be there.

I thoroughly enjoy being a rent-a-goalie.  It’s fun.  It’s good exercise.  It’s a good way to earn some money.  It’s a good way to work on your game.  But it comes with a unique bag of stress that your regular goalie doesn’t have to face.

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