PU stars of past, present help goaltenders

Fiander’s camp develops future best

By: Lisa Zola-De Libero
   The NHL is back in business. How great is this for all of those youth hockey players who love to watch their idols on the ice? For the goalies at Craig Fiander’s recent seventh annual Textbook Goaltending Camp, the puck stops here.
   Fiander, a native of Canada, has over 25 years of goaltending experience. A graduate of Princeton University, he has played for the Trenton Titans and in the American Hockey League since graduation. He has coached goaltenders at PU for 12 seasons. His clinics are dedicated to developing future collegiate student-athletes and professional goalies.
   With a staff worth bragging about consisting of former and current collegiate and pro goaltenders and shooters, including Steve Shireffs, an All-America PU defenseman and the NHL Calgary Flames seventh-round draft pick in 1995 and Roxanne Gaudiel, the PU women’s ice hockey team’s starting goalie who ranked fifth in the nation in shutouts last season, Fianders’s camp was "awesome as usual," he said.
   Kids like Jeff Holbrook, attending this camp for the sixth consecutive year, are working hard to make their dreams a reality. Many campers felt that they definitely improved in several different areas.
   "I play for the Princeton Youth Hockey league," Holbrook said. "My goal is to be the No. 1 draft pick in the NHL. The camp has really helped me to improve my stance and I enjoyed the breakaway drills the most."
   Shireffs, who helped out for the fourth consecutive year with the camp, said that the turnout was great. While signing autographs after the skills competition, Shireffs described his emphasis at the camp on taking shots at the goalies as opposed to playing defense in front of them.
   "I’m a defenseman," said the 1999 PU graduate. "At the camp I focus on taking hard shots. The kids did a really good job stopping me. I love to see their enthusiasm for the game. This is what it is all about."
   Shireffs, who played basketball and hockey until he was in high school, says it’s more of a trend today to focus on one sport.
   "Kids are putting most of their efforts today on one sport," he noted. "This is OK if they are enjoying it and having fun."
   A financial executive in New York City, Shireffs considered coaching, but presently chooses to focus on his career.
   "I love to play hockey," he said. "Right now though I am enjoying my career. I look forward to Craig’s camp each year because it brings me back to hockey."
   With a 2.57 goals against average and a .928 save percentage last season, Gaudiel is looking forward to her senior year at Princeton. Gaudiel stood in front of the large screen television set and critiqued video of each goalie who attended the camp.
   "This is such a great camp because the kids are so willing to open up to new techniques," she said. "They come here ready to give 100 percent with enthusiasm."
   Starting out as a skater with her brother because she "did everything he did," Gaudiel volunteered for the position of goaltender because the team that she and her brother played for did not have a goalie. PU fans must certainly be happy about that decision.
   "I loved it right away," Gaudiel said, adding, "To be a really good goalie you have to be a strong skater with quick feet. Mentally, you need to be patient and ready to step up in the big games. I have been very fortunate to have a great defense in front of me at Princeton."
   Gaudiel feels that her strength is her skating ability. She feels that her mental game needs the most improvement right now.
   "I do a lot of visualization techniques which really help me to stay focused."
   As for Gaudiel’s focus right now, it is on the upcoming college season where she plans on having the best season yet.
   Fiander, the camp’s director and founder, offers a talented and experienced staff each year, "Running schools in this area for 10 years now, what I still find most rewarding is the response from the kids and parents. They continue to make the staff feel like we are truly helping them improve while enjoying the learning process. Whether it’s the youngest student making ‘brand new’ saves or an advanced New England prep-school senior improving her chances of playing college hockey, they all receive customized, personalized attention and feedback."
   This year’s staff included Kelly Cup champion Trenton Titans stars Vince Williams and Matt Zulteck. Scott Bertoli, a Princeton University graduate and former teammate of Shireffs, made a cameo appearance to sign autographs. Goaltending instruction from, among others, former ECAC championship Princeton goaltender Erasmo Saltarelli, former Hun School and current Weslyean University goalie David Scardella and Judd Lambert, who was drafted by the New Jersey Devils and is presently the Notre Dame High school and Bantam Major head hockey coach ensure that each student leaves the camp a better goalie.
   Now, it’s up to these net minders to put their newly learned skills into action and do everything they can to keep the puck out of the net.