• hockey for all centre - Manitoba's Community Hockey Complex
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Manitoba Moose

Andy Kollar cultivating goaltender excellence at the Ice Lab

A small room filled with hockey memorabilia serves as the headquarters for Andy Kollar, the maestro behind goaltender development at hockey for all centre’s Ice Lab.
Kollar points to a picture on the wall of him clad in North Dakota goalie gear.

“That one is me,” he says.

The photo takes him back to his four years as starting goalie in NCAA Division 1 hockey with the University of North Dakota, where his team won a National Championship in 2000 and was runner-up in 2001. After a couple of years playing in the UHL, ECHL and WHA2, Kollar returned to his hometown for a job that kept him close to the sport. Since 2014 year, he’s been leading the charge of developing the next generation of goaltenders at hockey for all centre.

“Growing up, I was either playing or coaching hockey, so when I was offered the position at hockey for all centre it was a no brainer of me.”

Just outside Kollar’s office, a specialized ice surface equipped with five goalie creases provides a versatile learning environment for trainees.

“I like to start all my goalie training with creating a beneficial stance because I believe the stance serves as the foundation for all aspects of goaltending, including movement and recovery,” explains Kollar.

“Everybody’s body functions differently; it’s my job to cater my training to each person to make sure they have the most effective stance.”

Goalies of all ages and skill levels can benefit from the personalized attention and detail of the Ice Lab’s private training sessions – which can be booked individually or in packages of five or ten. In addition, more intensive multi-day camps, like the ones offered each July, also incorporate tailored dryland training at hockey for all centre’s gym, Focus Fitness.

“I train people of all walks of life, from those who want to improve for their beer league game to eight-year-olds starting off and teenagers of all levels.”

Kollar delivers personalized feedback, fostering an environment of continuous improvement and extends his ear and his advice to players who want to discuss their challenges and triumphs.

“I have a goalie who told me they wanted to play college hockey, but later on I found out he was failing math. So, I told him he had to focus more on school until he got his grades up.”

His parents were very encouraging and got him a tutor and Kollar helped stress the importance of school coming first and wanting all his players to not only achieve success in hockey, but in life.

“He worked hard and got his grades up and graduated high school and now he is playing hockey for a D1 school with close to a 4.0. Those are the moments that I am really proud of when I coach.”

While humbly acknowledging he may not be an expert in mental health, Kollar knows the pressures that come with being a netminder and remains committed to creating a safe space for his players.

“I believe it’s important to keep an open dialogue with my players if they want to discuss a game they feel went badly or if they are failing a class,” I want them to know someone cares because when I played hockey it wasn’t something people talked about.”

“When you are in your crease, mentally you’re so isolated from the team it feels like you are alone when you let in a goal or mess up, but I want to make sure players don’t feel like they are alone.”

Registration is open now for spring and summer sessions – view a complete list of Ice Lab goalie lessons, please visit hockeyforallcentre.com.