CALGARY - Hockey Canada's summer goalie camp was on the budget chopping block earlier this year, but the organization found the means to run it again.
Fourteen goaltenders under the age of 20 are under the tutelage of seven coaches, including current St. Louis Blues goaltender Chris Mason and former NHLer Ron Tugnutt, until Sunday at Norma Busch Arena.
The players have been split into two groups, which means there is one coach per goalie each session.
"Maybe this is something other countries don't do and that's maybe why Canadian goaltending seems to rise at key times," Tugnutt said Friday.
While the goaltenders get instruction from some of the best in the business, they're also competing against each other in drills.
"You've got so many guys watching you and giving you tips on what to do better," said Matt Hackett of London, Ont. "All the goalies here are great goalies and proven goalies and it's just fun to be around."
Hockey Canada looked at cost-cutting measures in February. Canada's governing body of the sport was unsure then what funds would come from Own The Podium for 2009-10 and what revenue their Olympic jerseys would generate next winter. HC was negotiating with the International Olympic Committee on a new jersey design then.
The goalie camp, which had run for three years, was headed for the axe. But other cost-saving measures and stronger-than-expected revenue kept the program intact this year, said senior director of national teams Brad Pascall.
Hockey Canada's financial picture also became clearer once the jersey issue was resolved and Own The Podium doled out money to the Canada's sports federations.
The goaltending camp is important to the country's future in international hockey because that position can win or lose gold-medal games, Pascall said.
"This is our fourth annual goaltending camp and within those four years at the world junior level we've won a gold medal each and every year and our goaltender has been a key component of any of our teams," he said.
"In our reviews of all our programs, we really outlined the importance of goaltending."
Head scout Al Murray scouted and invited the 14 goalies.
Hackett of the Plymouth Whalers, Montreal Junior's Jake Allen and Jean-Francois Berube, Olivier Bellevance-Roy of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Adam Brown of the Kelowna Rockets, Gabriel Girard of the Shawinigan Cataractes, the Calgary Hitmen's Martin Jones, the Saginaw Spirit's Edward Pasquale, Jamie Tucker of the Vancouver Giants and Scott Stajcer of the Owen Sound Attack were the under-20 goaltenders invited.
After this camp, three or four will be invited to the Canadian junior team's development camp in August.
"We want them to size up the competition and realize how far they have to bring their game if they want to be one of the top goalies in Canada and have the chance to make the (junior) team next winter," Hockey Canada goaltending consultant Frederic Chabot said.
The under-18 goalies invited were Louis Boileau-Domingue of the Moncton Wildcats, Calvin Pickard of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Kent Simpson of the Everett Silvertips.
Bryce O'Hagan of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Michael Zador of the Oshawa Generals have also been identified by Murray in the under-18 group. They're excused from camp because they played in the world under-18 championships in April.
Hackett is the nephew of former NHL goaltender Jeff Hackett, so he does get coaching like this at home.
"He gives me tips on what to do and how to handle stuff," he said. "He made me the goalie I am today."
Central Scouting ranks Hackett and Bellevance-Roy first and second respectively among North American goalies for the upcoming NHL draft.
Bellevance-Roy earned an invitation to this camp a second straight year. The 18-year-old from Causapscal, Que., says the instruction he gets has made a difference in his performance.
"Some guys have been in the NHL for some years and others have played in Europe, so they're all great goaltender coaches and they know what they're talking about," Bellevance-Roy said.