Chapter Three: Coaching Goalies

Joe Bertagna has coached goalies of all ages, from youth hockey goalies at his summer camp to six years as goalie coach for the Boston Bruins. Chapter Three traces this part of Joe’s career.

Mike Milburys’s hiring of sports psychologist Fred Neff paid dividends as well. The Bruins had not beaten Montreal in a playoff series in 45 years when, during the 1987-88 season, Fred took a video crew on an in-season trip to Montreal. Every part of the trip was taped. Arriving at the airport, getting on and off buses, entering the Forum, before and after the game, etc.

Returning to Boston, Fred held a session with the team where they were shown various parts of the trip and asked what they were thinking at those times. After the obligatory smartass comments, one by one, the players started revealing themselves. “I never play well here.” “The refs always screw us here.” “We never get the bounces up here.” And so it went.

Fred was able to point out that the team was halfway toward defeat before the puck even dropped. While every game might have a first period penalty called against us, in Montreal it triggered a “here we go again” reaction. Maybe it was coincidence but that year, the Bruins beat the Canadiens in the Adams Division final, four games to one, the final game coming at The Forum.

The Bruins went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1988 and 1990, losing to Edmonton both times. Among the Bruins goalies in this period: Reggie Lemelin, Andy Moog, Bill Ranford, Pat Riggin, Doug Keans and Cleon Daskalakis.

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