The Puck Stops Here
For Anthony, a goalie’s most important skill is “staying square to the puck.”
It’s a case of need meets nuts. Almost. Whether you’re a hockey team whose goalie is injured or AWOL, or a shinny group tired of firing at sweaters hung from crossbars, someone with the time, gear and inclination to face slap shots from strangers is an email booking away.
And that someone will do it for the love of the game – definitely not for the money. Goalies To Go and similar firms connect netminders and clients every day, most hours, year-round.
Anthony Budhwani, newly resident in Bolton, has been a goaltender for 18 of his 26 years and a freelance netminder for Goalies To Go (established in 2004, now with a hundred-plus goalies) for about three. He’s a smallish, A-level goalie (ratings run from A to D) who “plays big.”
For Anthony, a goalie’s most important skill is “staying square to the puck.” And a rental goalie’s most important asset is “quickness to respond” to the mass emails the firm sends its pool of goalies to let them know about needy clients’ game times and locations. First-come, first served with the gig.
Anthony’s shift work in customer service at a hotel and conference centre gives him the flexibility to play as much or as little as he likes. The $50 he collects from a team after a game is split 50-50 with the firm, though he sometimes makes a little more if notice is short. But his motivation isn’t the money, it’s “the ice time. You gotta love it!”
Is Anthony invested in paid-to-play games for strangers he’ll probably never see again? Yup. Very much. When the red light goes on, it bothers him.
“I want to go and do well – to give them their money’s worth,” he says. “I haven’t had a really bad game yet. Mostly they’ll say, ‘Great game! We’re glad we called you!’ They might give me a tip, or I’ll be the first person they’ll offer a beer in the room after the game.”
Anthony rarely jumps at the downtown Toronto gigs that are the most commonly posted. Typically he accepts games in Vaughan and other areas of southern York Region, but he would like to play more in the area around his adopted hometown.
“Hockey has always been huge in the GTA, and it’s growing even more. There are fewer postings up here,” he says. “I’d prefer to play locally. The Albion Bolton Community Centre is the arena up here. Since I moved I keep my eye on it in the posts. It’s nice to play at home.”
Hockey team got a big hole in net? Anthony and his peers await your blasts from the point, your wristers, your chips and dribblers. Even your cheap deflections.