Moving up to the next highest level in any sport is a tough adjustment for any athlete. For hockey goaltenders, the task is even more daunting. The speed of the players increases an incredible amount at each step.

Detroit Red Wings draft pick Keith Petruzzelli has been making these adjustments look easy for the last few years, jumping from high school hockey, to a U18 academy, to the USHL, and now to NCAA division I in only four years. "It was a big jump going from U18 hockey to the USHL,"

Petruzzelli told InGoal Magazine in a recent interview. "The depth on each team is a lot stronger. Everyone can shoot and everyone can make plays. Getting used to the pace and speed of things was tough at the beginning, but I thought I adjusted well."

Specifically, Petruzzelli felt that even with his 6-foot-5 frame - managing his depth was the biggest key. "I had to push myself with my depth management. I knew in U18 I could just sit back and rely on my size because most players would just hit me with their shots. In the USHL I always had to have my toes at the top of the crease, which really pushed my skating ability."

The adjustment from U18 to USHL may pale in comparison to his next challenge: NCAA Division I hockey with the Quinnipiac Bobcats.

As the game speeds-up around you at higher levels, most goaltenders have the habit of sliding around their crease more frequently. Mentally, it feels like there isn't enough time to get set for a shot.

The problem with sliding more frequently is that if the puck goes back in the other direction, the goaltender has to load their leg in order to push back. Goalies are now taught to stay on their feet as long as they can, because this allows them to have access to edges on both of their skates.

This can be a real test for goaltenders that do not have excellent skating ability, and that's something Petruzzelli would like to work on. "If you beat the pass on your feet, you're able to get set early," Petruzzelli explained. "It gives you confidence because you aren't moving. If I'm already in position and square, I have a much better chance of making the save than if I was moving into the shot."

"I want to continue working on my skating. Being set makes such a huge difference for me, with my size. If I can continue working on my skating, getting more explosive, and faster, I think that would be a huge thing for me."

The knowledge and understanding of the position is something that bodes well for Petruzzelli's future. His continued work with Quinnipiac goaltending coach Jared Waimon will ensure that he doesn't fall into the trap of being down early on passing plays against some very tough NCAA division I opponents.

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