Ever seen goalies move around their crease line at the start of a game or period and scraping and scratching away the surface of the ice.

Goalies scrape the ice around them with their skates and stick to prepare the crease before the start of play. They do this for a few reasons, to stop the build-up of snow, to make their crease flatter and to make the puck slide slower.

Goalies will also do this to make the surface more even and avoid the possibility of tripping – because the crease builds up a small mound as the Zamboni passes over this area the most during the re-surfacing of the ice. Making the area flatter reduces the chance of the puck bumping or skipping upwards unpredictability.

Goalies also sweep the area around the grease as a ritual (like sniffing smelling salts or spitting) to mentally prepare themselves for the play.

Goalie Braden Holtby warming up

Why Scratch Ice

Here are the main reasons goalies will scratch or scrape the ice with their blade and stick.

  • Makes the ice ‘slower’ for the puck and players.
  • To reduce sliding one direction when making a save.
  • Removes bumps or dips from the Zamboni
  • Mentally get in the zone with a ritual.
  • Use the exercise to warm up and take control of the crease.

The Goalies Crease

The goalie’s crease is the goalie’s space for the duration of the game. Unlike the players who change lines every minute or so, the goalie is typically on the ice for the full 60 minutes of play (and more if there is overtime or shootouts).

The backups goalie will get some time on the ice in some games, but 90% of the time its the number one goalie of the team that gets the majority of the ice time.

With that said, the goalie’s crease is their zone to protect and defend. Opposing players can’t stand within the crease but must not interfere with the goalies ability to make a save – otherwise they may suffer an obstruction penalty.

Preparing the Crease

Goalies usually start to preapre the ice around their net by shuffling back and forwards with their skates. This motion roughs up th freshly laid ice, making it slower and smoothing out any exiting bumps.

Using their stick to scrape the dug up ice or snow into their net or outside the crease, the goalie is mentally and physically preparing themselves for the play.

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