Thursday, 1 June 2017

Millington replaces Hurst

The transfer of Tom Millington to Loughborough after his time helping Old Georgians into the national league made a lot more sense when I (finally!) discovered that he's become the England GK coach, replacing John Hurst who stepped down from the role recently.

With the goalkeeper coach position vacant, I couldn't think of any suitable coach available, forgetting that Millington has worked for Fortitude and with national league goalies, although I know Giles worked with the England women's setup before.

Millington brings with him a fresh perspective of the modern game and the goalie's new requirements given his recent playing experience and seeing as English management is looking at a new perspective of the game through to goalies and their coaches, now is a good time more than any as they start to reap the benefits of the single system (as with the Azlan Shah win) and with the young players coming through.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Dave using Wall mask

Another goalie nerd style spot from this season gone, was Brighton's Dave Bockett-Pugh switching helmets to a Wall mask. One of the remaining helmet-cage-combo (wearing dudes HCCWD as they call it in ice hockey), along with Tommy Alexander and James Bailey (right now I think they're the only ones in men's national league play that use the setup, but as always I could be gone), he switched to an Obo helmet, and then onto the Wall mask.

As far as I know, Wall is being sold through Mercian, or bought up by Mercian, after the company stuttered with their flat pad release that was ahead of its time and then struggled financially. It is interesting to see a hockey company buy into using mask designs and modernise, with hockey goalies now almost all wearing mask designs from junior upwards. The Wall design itself has smaller sightlines and visual space due to the design, so it would be interesting to see what impact that has on a goalkeeper's peripheral vision and their save making (not sure how you would analyse that).

With Chris Borsoi having left for East Grinstead to compete with Paddy Smith, Dave made the starting position his own again and I'm sure will look for a strong season again this September.

Switching headgear wasn't the only kit change for him this season, seemingly ditching the elbow pads/tubigrip combo for no arm protection for arm movement and reaction saves.

Internationals rocking different TK colourways

We all know that sponsorship is supposed to give unique perks to those who receive it because of their hard work in their sport and representation as the face of the brand for those in the community, so it doesn't really come as a surprise that top internationals and the best in the world (like TK sponsored David Harte - best voted goalie two years in a row) get to use some alternative colouring.

I was going to post this ages ago when Gucasoff was the only light blue TK pad wearing goalie around, but it has been a while since then, and James Bailey is now wearing them (Tommy Alexander was too before wearing the new Mercian range he had a hand in developing).

Obviously this aspect of goalie kit aside from goalie kit nerds like myself, would be more appreciated in ice hockey, where goalies obssess over the different choice of pad colours and designs, but it is at least good to see some variation, with Harte's light orange foam kit on display in the Hoofdklasse playoffs. The P1 range has its striking black and red colourway design as its main for us in England, and gets a bit more variation over in Holland, but as always the best goalies get to have all the fun!

Francesconi deputises for Southgate

This season Italian international Enrico Francesconi has been given the opportunity to deputise for Southgate and gain national league experience . As Italy's future, getting exposure to a higher standard of hockey internationally is a great step for him, especially as his World Hockey League exploits have been crucial to their success, with his shot stopping being a difference on the international stage.

Southgate were looking for a suitable goalkeeper to deputise and get 1st team experience since around the 2014 season; happy to use the progressive approach of breaking in another goalkeeper for national league action as Allan stepped away from Scottish involvement in a new phase in his career. And Francesconi has been that; a young, solid prospect that is looking to further himself and get the chance to play at this level. As a young goalkeeper he is setting himself up for a strong future and it will be interesting to see how Southgate man manage their goalkeeping department in a more progressive format; a more progressive style of goalkeeper rotation, than the atypical English incumbent and inexperienced back-up.

It has been interesting to see national league goalkeepers get rotated this season as international commitments meant the top division had to employ their second choice goalkeepers, whilst in this case, Francesconi has been given playing time to prove himself because of hard work on the training ground and ability, rather than the other possibilities of injury (where the reserve goalie is thrust into the spotlight aka soccer) or because of absenteeism (i.e. international commitments).

Bristow leads Havant to promotion

Havant have finally secured promotion back into the national league after a troublesome period for the club, and I would say something had to do with the return of Chris Bristow taking over as first choice. With Ben Cowling replaced and with the former Surbiton goalkeeper and player/coach at Eastbourne returning to his old club to help them return to the national league after the demotion into the regionals, it looked like a switch to a more experienced and strategic minded goalie sorting out plays from the back, had an impact on the squad and dressing room to secure victory.

Bristow is known for a pretty aggressive style, being active in his D in rushing out to close down attackers but that seems to have calmed into a more balanced approach (doing as needed rather than all the time). And with experience in the England setup, albeit for a short time, and his player/coach experience, a more tactical mind has made the minutest difference that ensured this season they finally beat their demons as a club.

There have been a few changes at the club with coaching staff shifting and the squad changing, and an experienced goalkeeper with Premier league experience under his belt, and loyalty to the club that helped him grow into the athlete he is, Bristow will also help them in the efforts to remain in the West conference this upcoming season as they look to bounce back from a rough patch as a club.

Ratcliffe using Brabo LHP

Another kit geekery spot this season was George Ratcliffe (former Wales junior, ex-Univerity of Birmingham starter, and HWHC no.2 - presumably in the senior Wales setup now - going on assumptions...) using the Brabo super pro catch glove; their top of the range LHP.

Interesting to see him making use of the Dutch brand glove given its lack of commonality in English goalies and I suspect the only piece of Brabo GK gear used in the Nat Prem this season. And I'd go on the educated (this time!) assumption that he uses it for its rebound properties and for further clearance on the save when making glove saves.

You can also see him make an intelligent clear with the glove to get rid of the ball after the low block covering the right baseline in the video, thanks to the rebound and 'ping' on the lighter foam glove.

Interestingly, it seems he's been trying out the Mercian LHP redesign, wearing it when backing up Kettle at the Playoffs for the Euro spots, and may be using it instead this upcoming season.

Lovell using Brabo rhp

Just a quick kit geek post here, but been interesting to spot more goalkeepers using their brand gloves rather than 'bespoke' playing style approach on the international stage. I spotted Lovell making use of the Brabo rhp during the Azlan Shah tournment rather than the Mazon/Gryphon one he was using before.

Obviously this comes with playing adjustments as the visual connection between glove and saving changes with a larger/diagonal face rather than vertical face to connect eye co-ordination and glove hand physically when making saves in the upright and diving. Little things like this can make all the difference in playing confidence and save making...