Clint Elberts is one of the most successful and respected amateur goaltending coaches in the metro area.
“When I wanted to find someone to work with my son Corbin, I got a hold of Clint,” Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said. “He's been working with elite kids in the area, and when the Russell Stover program became the Mavs Elite program, Clint became an incredible resource for Simon (Watson, who coaches a Mavs Elite team and oversees the program) and the players.”
The Mavericks had two CHL rookie goalies in camp in Shane Owen and Joe Howe, and Hillman asked Elberts to offer some advice.
“He's now our new goaltender coach, and you can't argue with the results,” Hillman said.
Owen, who has been the CHL Goaltender of the Week back-to-back weeks, is 6-0-0 with a 1.32 goals-against average and Howe is 2-0-0 with a 2.00 GGA. They rank first and third in the league, respectively, going into tonight's 8:05 p.m. (CST) game against the 9-0-0 Rush at Rapid City, S.D.
“I was in the right place at the right time, and I couldn't be happier,” said Elberts, who runs The Hockey Center KC (13665 E. 42nd Terrace South, a block south of I-70 off Noland Road in Independence). “Both players have been very receptive and great to work with.
“I just met Shane when he came to town, but I've known Joe from our days when we both lived in Minnesota.”
Howe said he has worked with Elberts since he was a 13-year-old player in Minnesota.
“We've talked once in a while since those teenage days, but when I got to town, I knew Clint was in the area and I was going to call him,” Howe said. “And he's here as the team goalie coach. Talk about a small world.”
Owen raves about Elberts.
“He's helped me a lot. He's easy to talk to, and I have a lot of faith and confidence in him,” Owen said. “Joe and I both really enjoy working with him. He just helps with the basic stuff, the little things that keep you on your toes.
“And he makes practice tough. We might face a few hundred shots in a practice and in a game what do you face? Thirty or forty shots at the most – and the way our defense is playing, a lot less than that. He gets us used to situations where there are no surprises in games.”
At a recent practice session, Elberts had his goalies face shot after shot in a spirited drill that helped both the shooters and the goaltenders.
“Because of the fact they see so many shots in practice,” Elberts said. “I try to create as many real game situations as possible, so when they see the same situation in a game, they just react and don't even have to think. They're pro's pros and came here with a lot of talent. I'm just trying to help them get off to a good start and offer anything they might need.”
So far, so great.
“We're thrilled to have Clint,” Hillman said. “All the questions about our goaltending have ceased. Now, anyone who wants to talk about our goaltenders, just ask where we found such great players. They are great players, and we have a great coach, too.”
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC