Youngsters loving Roloson's camp
Simcoe’s Dwayne Roloson would like to play at least one more NHL season, and while his fate ultimately lies with general managers across the league, he’s not likely to stop teaching anytime soon.
The longtime NHL veteran, along with former NHLer and current Minnesota Wild goalie coach Bob Mason, have welcomed close to 40 goaltenders back to the Simcoe Rec Centre for their annual camp, which finishes today.
Many from the area return year after year, but so do players from across the country and beyond — with good reason.
“He’s really down to earth and easy to talk to,” said Windham Centre’s Trevor Fleming, 16, a multi-year participant. “He’s really positive, which is good because he’s not always just picking out the bad things. Obviously he’s an NHL goalie so he knows what he’s talking about so you get a lot of good teaching points, same with Bob. They know their stuff, you’ve just got to listen and take in as much as you can.”
Current campers weren’t born when Mason — a Minnesota native — was enjoying his NHL career, but all have reaped the rewards of a philosophy championed by his former goalie coach and renowned guru Warren Strelow.
“The philosophy is, if you can’t move, you can’t stop the puck, so we work on a lot of movement, a lot of balance, a lot of stuff that people don’t really work on,” Roloson explained.
“Even in the five days that we’re here, their balance improves and you see how much easier they move in the net, how many more saves they’re making because of the techniques we’re teaching.”
An ever-growing goaltending fraternity is also ever-changing. The butterfly is probably the most utilized style these days, but stand-up and hybrid are also viable options still used by many. The principles of the position don’t change, said Roloson, 42.
“Every goalie has their own style — some guys like the butterfly, some people like to stay up, some people like to do a whole bunch of different things. That’s up to us to teach them, not change their style, teach their style,” he said.
“There’s four or five things that are exactly the same whatever style you’re playing. As long as they have the basics down, that’s the most important thing and that’s what we stress here is the basics.”
Players move from station to station, working with a number of different instructors while fielding shots in many simulated game situations. Each and every stopper gets one-on-one time with Roloson and Mason, something that many participants maintain sets the camp apart from others.
“It’s self rewarding for us to see how well they’ve done — what’s stayed with them, what hasn’t. It helps us learn what to teach a little bit more of and what we need to change in our program to keep their games elevated,” Roloson said.
“It’s not like the teaching process has changed over time. It’s learning to adapt a little bit more, working at it and learning what’s working for the kids.”
Not only are the goaltenders learning, so too are the camp helpers, who shoot the pucks. The camp’s shooters are generally between the ages of 14 and 18. Each gets outfitted with a Roloson Mason wind suit and for players like Delhi’s Adam Brady — a first year shooter and former OHL draft pick — they learn about what it takes to make the world’s best league.
“It’s definitely been pretty cool to be around Dwayne Roloson,” said Brady, a DDSS student. “Obviously the program here, you learn about how to handle yourself off the ice and all the hard work that they put into it.”
Guys like Brady and even Roloson himself can talk until they’re blue in the face about how much the camp has helped players, but the ultimate proof is in the campers themselves. In five years, Fleming has seen and experienced the group’s gains first-hand.
“I’ve seen a ton of kids improve — a few of them I remember could barely move a few years ago, now they’re sliding around … stopping pucks,” Fleming said. “I have definitely noticed a difference in a lot of kids and myself as well.”
“(Mason and Roloson are) really awesome guys, they don’t let their success go to their heads so it’s really cool — it’s someone to look up to.”
Roli wants another shot
Currently an unrestricted free agent, Roloson said he’s open to playing another year in the NHL. Statically speaking, this past year with Tampa Bay wasn’t his best. His record of 13-16-4 was Roloson’s lowest win total since he was a backup in Buffalo in 1999, but the 15-year vet is just one year removed from a trip to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and would relish another chance to win his first Stanley Cup.
“I’d love to play one more if the option’s there. Now we’ve just got to find the right fit to do that,” explained Roloson, a father of three. “The kids are getting older now so we don’t want to move them around too much anymore, so we’ll hopefully find a place to go and go from there. Realistically, is that going to happen? I don’t know, but hopefully it does.”
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