BANGOR, Maine — Youth hockey player Josh Delp of Bangor, in full goalie gear, pushes off to the right a few strides, then pushes back to the left.
He repeats this process a few times at Sawyer Arena before moving on to other drills.
After a few years of playing street hockey, the 14-year-old Delp is in his first year on the ice.
“After encouragement from the other kids in the neighborhood,” said friend and Bangor Red Bantams teammate Jonathon Musor.
His mother, Bonnie, needed some convincing, also.
“My mom looked at the prices [of equipment, for registration, for tournaments and so on] and she wasn’t sure if I was thinking straight or not,” said Delp.
But he knew this was what he wanted. He didn’t want to play any of the other positions.
“It must in my genes,” he said. “My dad [David] used to be a goalie.”
As a new goalie, Delp took advantage of the goalie clinics that Bangor Youth Hockey has offered this season. Most, if not all, of the state’s youth hockey associations run similar clinics.
The final of three Bangor Youth Hockey sessions since early December was Monday, and Justin Climo, the Bangor High goalie coach who was conducting the clinic, has found Delp to be a quick study.
“Being a first-year goalie, it’s impressive,” said Climo.
Delp thought the clinics, conducted by Climo and former Bangor goalie Meghan Smith, would be a big help as he tries to lift his skill level to match that of his peers, some of whom have been playing the position for years.
Chris Howat, the starting goalie at Bangor High who was aiding Climo, is a case in point.
“I started playing hockey when I was 4,” said the Rams senior, “and I started playing goalie when I was 6.”
Delp’s progress also impressed Howat.
“He already shows he has pretty fast hands,” said Howat, who helped shoot pucks as Delp practiced positioning himself to face shots and cut down angles.
“I think once he gets more comfortable on the ice, he’ll stay up better and get better position,” Howat said.
Delp knows that’s what he needs to work on.
“Definitely getting up with the left leg [after dropping down to block a shot] and sliding,” said Delp.
Climo was able to devote his full attention to Delp on Monday because Delp was the only person to show up for the clinic, but that is unusual.
“The last couple we’ve had between six and 10,” said Climo. “Sometimes it’s 12, and sometimes it’s one. You kind of expect anything.”
Delp wasn’t expecting individual attention.
He had to pause at the clinic a few times to take rest breaks for two reasons. The first was because he couldn’t rest while somebody else was fending off shots, the other was because of a pulled groin muscle he suffered Saturday while playing for the Bangor Red Bantams.
“That’s the hardest injury to come back from in a single year,” said Climo. “That’s why I stress stretching so much. I try to start and finish every practice with stretching.”
The clinic was “pretty tough but fun,” Delp said.
In fact, he said, “I expected more [work] than this.”
He may want to be careful what he wishes for, but he’d do it.
“I came here knowing nothing,” he said. “Now, I know things.”
Learn To Play set in Brewer
The second Learn to Play session in Brewer Youth Hockey’s Learn to Skate/Learn to Play program begins at 12:40 p.m. Sunday at Penobscot Ice Arena.
Even though the program began in October, participants ages 3-15 still are being accepted, according to George Bishop, vice president of instruction. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
The cost is $99, but Bishop said there is a scholarship program for families who meet income requirements and the association also offers a rental program so parents don’t have to outfit their kids before they try the sport. Mouth guards are recommended.
Other associations offer similar programs, so check with the local association to see if signing up is still possible.
Casco Bay raffling a Bruins trip
The Casco Bay U-16 Midgets are raffling off an overnight trip to see the Boston Bruins host the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 19. The Midgets are trying to raise money to go to the U-16 National Championship in Green Bay, Wis., this spring.
The trip includes four loge tickets (eight rows from the ice), a night at the Marriott Longwharf in Boston and a $250 gift card to Bricco Restaurant near the Boston Garden.
Tickets are $10 each, and the drawing is Feb. 19.
For tickets, contact a Casco Bay Midget Minor player or Amy Saffian at firstname.lastname@example.org.