By Adam Brady
With roller hockey games going in full force to either side of them, Ducks winger Corey Perry
and goaltending consultant Pete Peeters spoke to more than 100 fans of all ages Tuesday evening at 949 Roller Hockey Center in Irvine.
The event was a stop on the ongoing Player Rink Tours (which started last month and run through February) in which members of the Ducks visit various rinks in Southern California and interact with youth players. On some of the stops, players get involved with a youth hockey team by lacing up the skates with them during the practice. Some of the visits, like Tuesday night, are reserved for a speaking series in which the Ducks take part in a Q&A with fans. Ducks television analyst and former NHL goalie Brian Hayward served as host Tuesday night and engaged Perry and Peeters in the night’s topic – Goalie vs. Shooter (An Inside Look).
Both guests started the session sharing their early introductions into the game. Perry focused on the young players in the audience when he said that as a kid he used to play with a mini stick and a tennis ball every night to build his eye-hand coordination. He said that during his days in junior hockey, he and his teammates would practice for at least five minutes before games with a golf ball.
Peeters, who spent 13 seasons as an NHL goaltender and won the Vezina trophy as the league’s best goalie in 1983, revealed that he never wanted to play the position when he was younger. “I kind of got stuck,” he said with a smile. “They made me play goalie because I was the only guy who wasn’t scared of the puck. I was a swimmer growing up, and I had to do one or the other. Why I changed to hockey, I don’t know. But it worked out for me.”
Host Hayward told the crowd that Peeters had a remarkable 35-game undefeated streak for the Philadelphia Flyers during the 1979-80 season, his first full NHL campaign. “I was blessed by some very good defensive teams,” Peeters said. “Some nights they bailed me out, some nights I bailed them out. You never do things by yourself in this game.”
Many of the night’s questions focused on the shootout, a point in the game Perry enjoys taking part in because, “You have the game on your stick. It’s a great feeling when the coach puts you out there because it shows he has confidence in you.”
Perry disclosed that his favorite shootout move is to come in on the goaltender from a wide angle. “That gives me a lot more options,” he said. “I can shoot it forehand, or I can go to the backhand, or I can fake to the backhand and roof it.”
Peeters says that in working with Ducks goalies Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Hiller
on shootout technique, he tells them, “You’re going to get beat, but get beat your way. Come out of the goal far enough to take away the shot, but not too far that you’ll get easily deked. Make him make a move and follow him. It’s like two gunfighters. The guy who draws first usually ends up dead. You need to have patience to outwait the scorer.”
Perry said that the more goalies study video of players’ shootout moves, you have to keep things fresh. “They start to know your tendencies, so you have to change things up once in awhile.”
Peeters, who played before the shootout was implemented as a tiebreaker in the NHL, admitted that as a goaltender, he doesn’t care for it. “I don’t like the shootout, but it’s exciting to fans and great for the game,” he said. “No one is sitting down during that time.”
In working with the Ducks goalies, the 52-year-old Peeters frequently straps on the pads and gets involved in the team’s practices. He sees a major difference between today’s players and those he faced in his era. “Today’s athlete is bigger, stronger, faster,” he said. “I cannot believe the speed of their hands. It’s unbelievable.”
He said that for great players like the one sitting next to him, the game seems to be played at a different speed. “They see the game slower than most players do,” Peeters said. “I had that feeling once in awhile when I was playing and I tried to repeat that every game.”
Added Perry, “It does slow down a bit when you’re playing well. I slow the game down by keeping the puck on my stick as long as I can. I want to control the puck and take it to the net.”
The night did have its share of lighter moments, particularly when the younger players were given the opportunity to ask questions. One child asked Perry how many fights he’d been in during his career. “I’ve been in a couple,” he said with a smirk. “Probably 10 in my career.”
Hayward, knowing Perry’s reputation as an agitator, asked, “How many did you start?” to which Perry quickly retorted, “That’s not what he asked.”
Perry was asked about his tendency to wreak havoc in front of the opponent’s goal. “Being in front of the net is where I make a living,” he said. “But goalies don’t like it too much.”
Hayward pointed out that during the previous night’s win over Calgary, there were a couple of occasions where Perry tangled with Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. “It wasn’t my fault,” he said with a hint of sarcasm. “It never is.”
Near the end of the session, fans were asked trivia questions in which correct answers were awarded with prizes that included two suite tickets to an upcoming Ducks game and a Scott Niedermayer autographed puck.
Perry left the youth players with some advice, just before he, Peeters and Hayward signed autographs for all of the night’s attendees.
“Keep practicing your shot,” he said. “If you have a good shot, it’s a deadly weapon to have. So keep shooting.”
Following are the remaining Rink Tour stops (times subject to change):Monday, December 14 @ 7 p.m.
Speaking Series #3 - Learning from a Vet
4325 Prado Rd. #101
Corona, CA 92880Wednesday, January 6 @ 6:30 p.m.
Speaking Series #4Playing in the Olympics
EastWest Ice Palace
11446 Artesia Blvd.
Artesia, CA 90701Monday, January 18 @ 6:30 p.m.
Riverside Ice Town
10540 Magnolia Ave.
Riverside, CA 92505Thursday, February 25 @ 6:30 p.m.
Ontario Ice Skating Center
1225 W. Holt Blvd.
Ontario, CA 91762