Goalie Hand Dominance
We’ve been taught to do everything with our dominant hand, from eating, writing, hand-shaking, opening doors, and brushing our teeth. Our non-dominant hand is often weaker and clumsier. Why is it then that we mostly see hockey goalies catch with their left hand? Are they all really left-handed? Do hockey goalies catch with their dominant hand?
Statistically speaking, most goalies do not catch with their dominant hand because most people are right-handed, but most goalies catch with their left hand. Though, we can assume that most left-handed goalies catch with their dominant hand.
There are approximately 10% of left-handed people in the world, making it almost impossible for all hockey goalies to be left-handed. The reason why they catch with their left hand is not that it is their dominant hand, but because of the way hockey players learn to play the game with a shot that goes against their normal dominant hand.
Another reason why so many goalies catch with their left hand is that it is desired to have your dominant hand at the top of the goalie stick for better control. That leaves your non-dominant hand free to catch.
Most hockey goalies catch with their left hand, and these are some of them.
Braden Holtby is currently playing for the Vancouver Canucks and was selected in the fourth round, 93rd overall, by the Washington Capitals in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, where he spent the first ten seasons of his career.
A couple of years later, he became the Capitals starting goaltender during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. In the 2014-15 season, Holtby won at least 40 games in 3 consecutive seasons. In 2017 he won the William M. Jennings Trophy for helping the Capitals to allow the fewest goals in the league.
Robin Lehner is currently playing for the Vegas Golden Kings. He previously played with the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, and Chicago Blackhawks.
Lehner was selected in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Senators. He won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy. He won the NHL’s William M. Jennings in 2019 for fewest goals allowed and Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
Phillip Grubauer is a goaltender for the Colorado Avalanche. Grubauer was drafted by the Washinton Capitals in the fourth round, 112th overall, of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He has played with the German national team in a few international tournaments, such as the 2018 World Championship and the 2009 World Junior Championship.
He won the Memorial Cup with the Ontario Hockey’s League Windsor Spitfires in 2010. He also won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Capitals in 2018. In 2015, while playing for the Capitals, Grubauer became the first German-born goaltender to start and win a Stanley Cup playoff game.
Carey Price is a goaltender for the NHL and is considered to be one of the best goaltenders in the world as well as in the history of the Montreal Canadiens. Price was drafted fifth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2005. He won the Del Wilson Trophy as the best goaltender in the Western Hockey League, as well as CHL Goaltender of the Year in 2007.
In 2015, he won Ted Lindsay, Williams M. Jennings, Vezina, and Hart trophies and became the first goaltender in NHL history to win all four individual awards in the same season. In 2014, he was named to the Canadian Olympic Hockey Team and won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. In 2016 he went undefeated to win his first World Cup of Hockey championship.
There are around 90% of left-hand catching goalies and 10% right-hand catching goalies in hockey. The reason why that is the case is that they most commonly use their dominant hand for the controlling stick. These statistics line up with the number of right-hand dominant people in the world. There is a smaller number of goalies that keep the controlling stick in their left hand, leaving their right hand to do the catching.
Jonas Hiller began his career in 2001 and retired this year. In 2006-07 he set a career-high win record with 28-16-0 in 44 games. At the end of the season, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. He made his debut for the Ducks on 30 September 2007, defeating the Los Angeles Kings 1-4. Hiller went on to record a 2.06 goals-against-average (GAA), and .926 save percentage in 23 games in his first NHL season.
Steve Mason is a former professional player but current Director of Goalie Development for the Oakville Rangers of the Ontario Minor Hockey Organization. He played for Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, as well as for Winnipeg Jets during his NHL career.
He was selected 69th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Blue Jackets. He won a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2008 World Junior Championship while also earning tournament MVP and Best Goaltender honours.
Jose Theodore played in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche, Washington Capitals, Minnesota Wild, and Florida Panthers. He won a President’s Cup in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) as QMJHL champions and competed in the Memorial Cup with the Hull Olympiques in 1995.
Theodore won the Ford Cup and Guy Lafleur Trophy and is a two-time QMJHL Second Team All-star. He played eight seasons in Montreal, winning the Vezina and Hart trophies in 2002. Theodore won a gold medal at the 1996 World Junior Championship and was named the tournament’s best goaltender. He retired in 2013.
Josh Harding won the Del Wilson and Four Broncos Memorial Trophies in 2003 as the NHL’s top goaltender and the most outstanding player. He also won a silver medal at the 2004 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship.
Harding started his professional career with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. He had a 28-7-0 record with a .923% save percentage in the Aero’s 2005-06 season, made, it the second-best in the AHL. After suffering from scoliosis, Harding retired in 2013 and currently works as a High School goalie instructor in Minnesota.
Rick DiPietro became the first of two goaltenders in history selected first overall in an NHL Entry Draft when he was chosen by the New York Islanders. In 2006 they signed him to a groundbreaking 15-year 67.5 million dollar contract, but unfortunately, a string of injuries beginning in 2008 led to a contract buyout in 2013.
DiPietro retired in 2013 after he was released by the Charlotte Checkers. As a result of his contract buyout, the Islanders will continue to pay him 1.5 million dollars until the end of the 2028-29 season. He is now a radio host for a talk show in New York City.
Mathieu Garon played in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Tampa Bay Lightning. He spent his junior career with the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. During three seasons with them, he posted a 74-63-5 record.
At the end of the 1997-98 season, Garon won the Jacques Plante Memorial Trophy as the best goaltender in the QMJHL and was named to the QMJHL First All-Star Team. He was drafted by the Canadiens in 1996 and played 19 games behind Jose Theodore in the 2003-04 season, posting an 8-6-2 record, a 2.27 goals-against average, and a .921 save percentage.
In 2011 Garon signed a two-year 2.6 million dollar contract with the Tampa Bay Lighting. After his contract expired, he pursued a career in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Tomas Vokoun played in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, and the Montreal Canadiens, with whom he was initially drafted in the ninth round, 226th overall, in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.
During the 2004-05 NHL lockout, he played 19 regular-season games for HIFK, posting a .940 save percentage. He was sidelined indefinitely after undergoing a clot surgery in 2013. Vokoun announced his retirement in 2015.