Have you ever noticed how goaltenders warm up on the ice before the hockey game begins? They will first scrape and markup the ice in front of their net before doing anything else. Why would the Hockey Goalies Scrape the ice? Don’t players prefer playing on a fresh sheet of ice instead of a snowy one?
Why Hockey Goalies Scrape The Ice:
There are a good number of reasons why the goaltender scrapes the ice. Below are some reasons why the goalie scrapes the ice;
1. To make it more difficult for the puck to slide, therefore slowing down the puck.
2. To remove the ice’s slipperiness for more controlled sliding
3. They scrape the ice as a mental preparation and warm-up before the game/period begins.
4. To smooth out any rough spots so pucks will not bounce.
5. Use scraped Snow To Prevent Wraparounds.
All of these reasons are based on the assumption that a Zamboni or ice-cleaning machine has just cleared the ice and it is now in its most slippery state.
Nothing beats a new sheet of ice as a forward or a defenseman – it’s so much fun to skate and play on. But that is not the case for a goaltender who doesn’t want the ice to be too slippery.
Now, let’s discuss each of the above stated reasons in detail.
1. Hockey Goalies Scrape The Ice To Slow Down The Puck:
When your work as a goalie is to keep pucks out of the net, you’ll do all you can to make it happen.
The puck will mostly move at maximum speed on a clean sheet of ice. Also, it is not every time that the puck lands in the upper right/left corner of the net. Many goals have been scored with the puck dribbling its way along the ice and into the net.
Every year, there are numerous goals that are millimetres past the goal line. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could scrape some ice to slow the puck down just enough to prevent it from barely crossing the line?
It is for this reason that NHL goalies like to scrape the ice to build up some snow that will act as an obstacle to reducing the speed of the puck. Hence, the puck will not travel at maximum speed and find itself at the back of the net.
This will occur naturally as the game progresses, but why wait until then when you can begin the process before the puck is dropped?
Even if you simply help avoid one or two goals per year, it is worthwhile. The NHL is so competitive, and the margin between winning and losing is so little, that players are always hunting for any advantage they can get.
Hence, the goaltender will scrape the ice to build up some snow and slow the puck down, thereby decreasing the chances of conceding a goal.
2. Scraping The Ice To Make It Less Slippery:
If the ice is too slippery, the goaltender will not be quite consistent in sliding, when pushing from side to side. Of course, no goalie would love to be inconsistent with their movements.
Of course, as the game progresses, the goaltender will constantly be moving from side-to-side as well as up-and-down. The goalie will have difficulty in maintaining his movement from one side of the post to the other if the ice is too slippery.
Moreso, they are usually careful so that they don’t overshoot and slide too far from the right position. Indeed, NHL shooters are so talented with shot accuracy that every inches matter.
Just a little shift out of position by a goalie could lead to a goal against and you wouldn’t want that to happen to your team. Hence, goaltenders have to be conscious of their position and maintain consistency when moving from one point of their goal post to another.
In a nutshell, the goalie will scrape the ice to roughen its surface and prevent him from overshooting due to the slipperiness of the ice. This will even give him more accuracy in controlling his movements and keep a perfect check of his position as he slides from side to side.
3. Scrape The Ice As Part Of The Warm-up Routine:
There is no denying the fact that mental preparation contributes to the success of a team in sports. Hence, the goalie always has a routine of warming up by scraping the ice to prepare for the actual game.
When the match begins, the goalie will need to be in his full strength. To achieve this, he has to warm up his body so that he will be fully ready to start the game with the right vibes.
4. Hockey Goalies Scrape Ice To Smooth Out Any Rough Spots:
The piece of ice directly in front of the net takes the most beat up in each period of the game. Simply put, it is utilised than any other region of the ice.
Because it is used so frequently, it can sustain a great deal of damage. When the Zamboni or ice-cleaning machine passes over that area, it does not always provide a smooth surface like the rest of the ice.
There may be some little irregularities left on the ice, which can be smoothed off by scraping it. The last thing the goaltender wants is for the puck to strike a bump and change trajectory or become erratic as it approaches him.
Again, even minor bumps can cause the puck to move, deflect and pass through a small gap in the goalie’s positioning.
5. Use scraped Snow To Prevent Wraparounds:
As previously stated, hockey players will utilize any tactic to gain an advantage. Goalies will even push snow to the sides of the post as it accumulates in their crease to help prevent players from wrapping the puck into the net from behind.
The NHL no longer allows goaltenders to construct snow mounds besides their goalposts. When you attend a game, you will notice that during the television timeouts, a crew of personnel will arrive to assist with ice maintenance.
The major task of this crew is to shovel off any surplus snow that has accumulated on the ice. Hence, they will also shovel around the net to remove the snow piled up at the posts.
Nonetheless, this does not stop the goalies from trying to pile up more as the game progresses.