A closer look at the Lightning’s goaltending

The goaltender of a team often has one of the most difficult defensive roles on the ice. Veteran goalies Ashley Steele and Ashley Miller have been a vital component to Richmond Hill’s success this season. Both Steele and Miller bring an energy that contributes to a strong and supportive team dynamic on and off the ice. These determined and hard working athletes have taken the time to share their experiences as goaltenders in hopes of inspiring young goaltenders throughout the Ringette community.

Ashley Steele, wearing number 31, has been with the Richmond Hill Lightening since the 2009/2010 Ringette season. Steele started playing Ringette when she was 6 years old, after seeing a promotional booth set up in a mall. She began her successful career as a defensemen. When she was about 9, she strapped on the pads and decided to play a game in net. After that game she became a part time goalie of her team, and by the end of the year she was in net every game. Steele played with the Burlington Ringette Association in Southern Ontario for the majority of her playing career. In 2005/2006 she played on the Southern Ontario AAA team, and then again in the 2007/2008 season, winning silver at Ontario Winter Games. In 2009, She was a part of the Canada Polar Bear team, touring Finland, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic to showcase the sport. Also in 2009, Steele was drafted to the Richmond Hill Lightning, and still plays here today!

Ashley Miller, wearing number 1, has been with the Richmond Hill Lightening since the 2012/2013 Ringette season. Miller started playing Ringette 2nd year bunnies, and was a full time goalie by 2nd year novice. She played for St. Mary’s B from bunnies until 1st year tween. 2nd year tween she had her first opportunity to try out for AA. Miller then played with Stratford from 2nd year tween until she finished Belle. In that time her team won provincials twice, placed 2nd at Easterns’ in Tween, and 2nd during another season. Miller also was picked up by Nepean one year, taking home bronze. Miller went on to become a member of the 2009 U19 Canada East team, taking home the silver and then the 2011 Team Ontario for the Canadian Winter Games, taking home gold. Miller played 2 seasons of Open A for Waterloo, winning provincials both years. During this time she also went to Antigua on co-op. Miller then entered the draft and this will be her 3rd season with RHL and 17th year of Ringette.

Attention Aspiring Goalies

Steele and Miller have both taken the time to share their experiences, the best parts and their challenges of being a goaltender in the NRL.

The Experience

Steele: ‘Playing in the NRL is a whole different level then any other league I’ve played in. The speed and finesse are incomparable. Playing for Richmond Hill is also a lot different then any team I’ve ever played on. One of the best parts is that we are made up of players who have played at all levels for years, and all different levels of experience. They bring a whole new level of knowledge to the table, and everyone just coaches each other to bring them to the next level. When I started in the NRL, my goalie partner had been playing there for years already, and was a huge help with adapting to the new league and a new team.’

Miller: ‘I took 2 years off playing consistent competitive Ringette. When I finally put my name in the draft RHL was the team I was really hoping to get drafted to. I only knew a little bit about each team in the draft region, but it’s been a great two years. I think having taken those years off it really allowed me to appreciate the level of play in the NRL. It was definitely something that I missed. Not just the difference of the speed and complexity, but all of the team activities that come with a greater competitive level. Everyone takes it a little more seriously, which just makes everything more fun. And it’s just more fun to play where it is a little bit more of a challenge. Really, I’m glad I decided to start playing NRL. It was a little harder to get back up to speed after a couple of seasons off, but I love playing for the Bolts.’

The Challenge

Steele: ‘As a goalie in the NRL: playing with consistency, especially at the higher levels. All the goalies in the NRL are all skilled, but being able to play well consistently is what separates a good goalie from an outstanding goalie in the NRL.
As a goalie growing up in general: a lot of goalies that I coach have a really hard time getting confident with communicating with their team on the ice. Being able to talk to your defense is a huge asset for the team and lets your defense know what’s happening around them.’

Miller: ‘One of the biggest challenges, especially growing up was getting the support you need to learn the basics and really grow. Practices aren’t usual geared towards goalies, and most coaches aren’t the best at goalie specific skating and drills either. There were also no goalie camps for Ringette when I was growing up either so I went to hockey goalie camp. You’re generally left to figure things out for yourself. This is changing now, but aside from going to specific Ringette goalie camps, I think that a lot of those challenges are still present in weekly practices.’

The Reward

Steele: ‘I love the crowds reaction when a big save is made. I like overtime and shootouts too (the pressure and the suspense).’

Miller: ‘You get to be a bit weird/ quirky and no one questions it at all because you’re the goalie? Not having to learn the majority of drills is nice. Goalie skates and helmets are way more comfortable than player’s. I also really like the challenge of 3-on-2’s.’
The Advice

Steele: ‘One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is "don’t sweat the small stuff". There are a lot of things that happen through out the game that are out of your control. As a goalie, if you focus on everything that goes wrong that you can’t control then it’s really easy to get off your game, so stay focused on the things you can control.’

Miller: ‘Don’t let the usual things that people say about goalies become habit. You should still be a good skater; you should still be in shape. Keep up good habits (like using your power leg) in practice. Make sure to work on your mental game. Speak up in practice if you want to work on something. If someone wants you to change a major aspect of your playing style don’t let him or her. If you are a stand-up style goalie, you can play that way, you don’t need to play a butterfly style. If you throw with your stick hand that’s okay, just make sure you keep practicing making it work. Recognize that you have areas you need to improve in and within your personal playing style close that gap. Communicate with your defense in the triangle. Let them know where the offensive players are. It will cut down on the shots taken, and the number of quality shots.’