In his first taste of North American Hockey, the Swedish netminder notched a 10-15-1 record and 4.41 goals-against average in 29 games for the 2008-09 Arizona Sundogs.
“I played up and down last year,” Gistedt said. “It was a big change for me. There were lots of games on a smaller surface and I faced lots of shots. It was a different playing style than from my home. I had a lot of fun, but I wasn’t pleased with my year at all. I know I can do a lot better.”
Gistedt faced nearly 29 shots per game with the Sundogs. His physical conditioning, he said, was an issue. That’s why he’s already in the Valley getting ready for training camp, playing at the Ice Den and on tennis courts with fellow prospect Jonas Ahnelov
“I feel like I’m already in better shape than last year,” Gistedt said. “Once camp starts, I just want to do my best and see how far I can go.”
Coyotes Director of Prospect Development Sean Burke, a former goalie of course, has skated with Gistedt and the others at the Ice Den a few times this summer.
"Just the fact that he's come over here and has been on the ice every day, there's no way his conditioning can't be better," Burke said. "It's been an education for him. A lot of young players don't know how to stay with a workout program all summer. He's learned that."
Burke said now Gistedt needs to learn how to be a more patient goalie.
“From a technical standpoint, he needs to work on toning his game down and playing a much more controlled game," Burke said. "He has simplified his game and realizes that in North American hockey you have to make the shooters beat you and not beat yourself by being too active in the net."
Gistedt comes from a hockey family in Uddevalla, Sweden. His father, Leon, was a defenseman and his older brother, Adam, is a forward. Joel jumped in the net just to play street hockey with the latter and the latter’s friends, but by age 11 he was hooked on the position.
“They needed someone in the goal and I was the youngest and too young to know anything else,” he joked. “But I enjoyed it all the way.”
At age 15, Gistedt moved to Gothenburg, Sweden and honed his craft there with Frolunda. He later played two-plus seasons in the Swedish Elite League.
In 2006-07, he became a starter and learned plenty from teammate Tommy Salo, a former NHLer whom Gistedt beat out for the top job.
|Joel Gistedt gets ready to stop a puck in Scottsdale. (Photo courtesy of Athletes Resource.) |
“Salo is a great guy,” Gistedt said. “I learned a lot from him. He kept pushing me at every practice.”
Gistedt played 35 games in 2006-07 and posted a 2.58 goals-against average. Coyotes scouts noticed, and Phoenix selected him with the 36th overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
“I got a taste of how I want to play that year,” Gistedt said. “The year after that I had a tough year and struggled a lot.”
Gistedt lost his starting job in the Swedish Eilte League to another goalie in 2007-08, but the experience taught him some lessons.
“I learned to go back to basics and practice hard,” Gistedt said. “It’s an old cliché, but if you can do it in practice, you can do it in games.