Kruisselbrink, D., Cairns, M., Walsh, C., & Kontzie, D. (2008). How much is enough? Effect of visual contact time on puck stopping ability. ACSM 55th Annual Meeting Indianapolis, Presentation Number 1974.

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"Vision is important in ice hockey goaltending. The high speed of shots requires goalies to obtain information about the flight path of a puck well in advance to allow sufficient time to move. Whereas the goalie’s primary objective is to keep the puck out of the net, directing rebounds to low risk areas is also advantageous". This study examined the relationship between visual contact time during a shot and goaltenders’ ability to stop the puck and control the rebound. Goalies (N = 8) wore full gear with a helmet fitted with occluding goggles. They faced slap shots taken from 48 feet away. Vision was occluded prior to puck contact (Early), during the initial phase of its flight (IPF), during the final phase of its flight (FPF), or vision was not occluded (Full). The researchers attempted to provide goalies with five shots per vision condition to each of four net quadrants. For each shot, net quadrant and outcome were recorded; outcomes were scored on a 6-point scale from most (0 = no rebound) to least (5 = goal) desirable. All shots were video recorded.

In total, goalies faced ~117 shots travelling ~136 km/h. Outcome ratings were significantly higher for shots in the Early than in the other three conditions, which were not different from each other. More goals than expected were scored in the Early and initial phase of flight conditions, and fewer than expected were scored in the other two conditions.

Implication. The critical period containing essential information about a pucks’ flight path appears to end just after the shooter's stick has contacted the puck. Compared to full vision of the puck, occlusion of puck flight paths after this point had little impact on outcome rating. Goalies should focus on events up to and including when the puck comes off a shooter’s stick.

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