goaltender sees the game differently.” In the case of Soo Indians head
coach Joe Shawhan, that is definitely true.
Sault Ste. Marie know him well. Shawhan rose to stardom playing high
school hockey for Sault Ste. Marie High School, where he led his team to
the state finals one year, only to fall to Trenton High School. He
played goal under two exceptional coaches at Lake Superior State
University – Frank Anzalone and Jeff Jackson, both of whom would lead
the Lakers to NCAA championships.
now the North American Hockey League’s Soo Indians, in the Northern
Ontario Hockey League, which churned out such stars as Denny Lambert and
that takes a special individual to play?
in his sixth season as head coach of the Indians. “I like the position
and I never played another one again.”
he was growing up. Instead, he learned more in high school and at the
college level. He certainly was not a naturally gifted goaltender, as
he says, but had to work harder.
starting job and helped the Lakers win a couple of games right off the
bat against a very good Western Michigan team in the early ’80’s.
pretty much the rest of my four years at Lake Superior,” said Shawhan.
Shawhan learned a lot from Anzelone and Jackson, who was an assistant
during the time Shawhan played.
Shawhan. “If we lost we didn’t execute properly and that was the
attitude instilled in us,” he says. “We practiced very hard and we
studied the game more than the Michigan’s and Michigan State’s,” he
practice, but he remembers learning from Anzelone about a hockey
player’s physical aspects and he still believes in the philosophy.
“I’m very big into physical aspects of players, what makes them up, what
they’re made of and their nutritional habits, which is important for all
hockey players and athletes in general.”
Flames which didn’t pan out. Shawhan says he wasn’t totally surprised
that he didn’t make the team because he says he was “a marginal goalie”
who had to study the game more closely than other goalies.
what really thrilled him the most was winning a national title at that
level. He went to coach the Soo Indians AAA Midgets and was a part-time
assistant at Lake Superior.
Then the NAHL and the Soo Indians called and Shawhan was back.
coaching style. He likes aggressiveness on his teams and feels he and
other coaches in the league do a good job of developing players for the
guys are from the Detroit area and they stay down there,” says Shawhan.
“We go for more stronger character kids, guys who aren’t going to be
developed, particularly in goal, with Ryan Miller of MSU, Bobby
Revermann, Nathan Wheeler and Cam Ellsworth, to name a few.
Miller says he really valued his stay with the Indians.
his sophomore season at Michigan State and one of the top goaltenders in
the country. “Coach Shawhan taught us how to see the game a certain way
and helped me develop aspects of my game that are paying off now.”
he learned naturally, but a lot he also learned from Shawhan.
and helped me judge the speed of the game better, which was different
from the levels I played at before the NAHL,” says Miller. “It prepared
me very well for the speed in the CCHA.”
involves noticing more of the motion of the game and which way plays are
moving or anticipating where plays will move.
played positions besides goal. This, he says, allows players to see the
game from many perspectives.
what a goalie does and I still do that even as a coach,” says Shawhan.
“If you focus on an individual as a goalie, you fail. You have to watch
for where the breakdowns are going to happen.”
with the Soo, not believing he’s developed better goalies, but certainly
believing that he and his staff can understand goalies better than any
confidence levels and we see how they react to different things.”
Shawhan says he and the Indians coaching staff look to develop
consistency in goalies, helping them learn different aspects of the
game, maybe tweaking their games a bit.
His current goalie, Cam Elser, is leading the NAHL in wins and shutouts.
In the same vein as Jackson, a former goalie himself and other
netminders who have gotten behind the bench (Ron Low formerly of
Edmonton and Bob Daniels of Ferris State to name a few) Shawhan knows
the game from where he played the game.
don’t. Maybe that’s why they make good coaches, just like Joe Shawhan.