Goalie Love
by Erin Brown|11 JUN 2022
Czechia's Barbora Dalecka and Michaela Hesova are among the many netminders at this year's event who have demonstrated the unique bond among goalies.
photo: Micheline Veluvolu / HHOF-IIHF Images
Ask forwards, defenders or coaches what is meant by “goalie love” and the response often yields puzzled looks and questions in return.

But goalkeepers? The reaction is a display of immediate joy in reflecting on the bond with teammates who share the role of defending the net.

"I think if you ask a player, they have an opinion that goalies are somehow their own kind," said former Team Finland goalie Tuula Puputti, who earned a bronze medal at the 1998 Olympics. "It's a little bit of a thing that we learn the posts are our best friends, and then you have your (goaltending partner) who knows what it's about."

The fellowship among goalkeepers isn't necessarily new. However, American Jeremy Swayman and Swede Linus Ullmark elevated awareness of the bonds when their synchronized on-ice routines went viral on social media.

As quirks of the Boston Bruins teammates spread over the globe, other members of the goaltending union joined in with their own sequences of glove taps, chest bumps and dances. The netminders at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship are no different.

"Goalie love is the best love," Swayman said earlier this year. "It's really cool to have that feeling that we created has been spread out to the goalie community and the hockey community as a whole."

For Michaela Hesova and Barbora Dalecka of Czechia, the routine begins with high five up top, then down low, followed by another with the back of their hands before finishing off with a helmet-to-helmet tap. Whenever a third netminder is on the team, she is always included, too.

"It's really simple because you can't do much with three people," Hesova said. "We stand in a triangle and all give high fives all at once. And it always has to stick. It always has to be right. It has to clap. It has to be good."

The last interaction prior to the initial puck drop between Slovakia's Laura Medvidova and Livia Debnarova involves a chest bump, big embrace and a few quick bounces.
The Slovak goalies' pre-game ritual.
photo: Micheline Veluvolu / HHOF-IIHF Images
During pre-game warmups, Germany's Sara Brammen and Felicity Luby will stand about five meters apart in the neutral zone and fling pucks back and forth into the other's glove.

The Americans, meanwhile, are still working on theirs. It's coming together, though.

"Ava (McNaughton) and I were going to create a handshake," Team USA's Annelies Bergmann said. "It's just a clap back and forth and a fist bump, but we haven't gotten any further."

Added McNaughton: "With this team having started two weeks ago, we haven't really developed anything crazy or out of the ordinary. Obviously a nice high five, 'you got this, here we go, good save,' stuff like that. We have handshakes with each other, but nothing super eye catching."

Swiss goalies Margaux Favre and Nadia Haener keep it simple with a lot of motivational talk — which is notable in itself because they speak different languages. Favre speaks French, Haener German.

"I don't think we have a routine together, but she's so nice when I am playing," Favre said. "(Sometimes) there are goalies who are not happy for me when I am playing because there is a lot of competition. But Nadia is just so nice and cheering me on, even in practice. It's just so nice to have a goalie partner like that."

The showcase of affinity for one another comes from the experience of being the most isolated member of a hockey team.

"I know I would never do it — I don't want to stand in front of the puck and get hit," Team USA coach Katie Lachapelle joked. "That's probably the first bond right there — being daring enough to take those shots and stay in net.

"They're usually the calmest and they always have to get over something, right? If a goal goes in, they need refocus right away. Players might be able to go to the bench and sit and think about it for a second. (Goalies) don't have time because they're not coming off. They just get that next play."

Hesova describes the role as being a "sport in a sport."

"Even thought we are on a team, it's different for us," Hesova said. "We understand each other and that creates a bond, which is pretty awesome when it works and clicks. On our team, all three of us, we're besties, honestly."

Legendary Swedish netminder Kim Martin Hasson says the relationship even exists among goalies and their coaches. And the higher the stakes, the closer the bond.

"I'm on the coaching side (now), and we're all very open and just want the best for the goalies." Martin Hasson said. "It's kind of more of a family. I think when you are together with another goalie, when you go to Worlds or Olympics, you know how much pressure the goalie has that are playing."

Puputti, who now serves as general manager of Finland's women's teams, recalled a similar connection with national team partner Liisa-Maria Sneck by sending passes to each other at opposite ends of the ice during lulls in practice. They created a term for it: "haamulätty," or "ghost saucer pass."

"All the way down the ice — that's the ghost saucer pass. Nowadays you see the goalies score (that way). That's what you dream about. That's what we sometimes practiced if we had a little bit of a break."

Puputti says even though the duo were last teammates 25 years ago, her bond with Sneck remains. When they have not connected in some time, someone will usually reach out via text message, kicking off the conversation with a single word: Haamulätty.