You may have seen that video of Jonathan Toews’ trick shot that made the rounds a couple of years ago. The skilled Chicago Blackhawk placed a plastic water bottle on top of the net. Ready with a group of pucks, his first shot sent the bottle sailing up into the air. His rapid follow-up hit the airborne bottle a second time, causing it to slap against the boards.
By my estimation, there’s a lot of skill and practice required to pull this off. Toews hit his target — twice — in rapid succession. The unpredictability of the oblong object (the water bottle) means Toews would have had to quickly adjust to connect as it floated through the air.
But apparently you don’t have to be an NHL superstar to do this trick shot. Back in 2015, Carter Pauli, then 12-years-old, replicated Toews’ feat and uploaded the evidence to YouTube. Yahoo Sports picked up the story, saying although it’s unclear how many times Pauli attempted the shot before succeeding, it’s nonetheless an impressive feat.
Regardless of how much practice Pauli put in when the cameras were off, the feat is extraordinary. To me it emphasizes how time and effort can help midget hockey players achieve their highest potential. Toews may be known as a Stanley Cup champion and team captain, but he didn’t get there without doing some serious time in front of the net, honing his skills.
Carter Pauli may be following Toews on the path to NHL success. Two years after posting the video to YouTube, he’s now 14-years-old and a AAA, Tier 1 player with West Michigan Elite. In his NCSA recruiting profile, he emphasizes his devotion to practice. Pauli is homeschooled, giving him time to focus on hockey conditioning and other interests.
Practice is important, even for eventual legends like Toews. His own father described him as a “natural” when he was first put on the ice as a 3-year-old. But Toews said the game actually didn’t come that easily to him, and he had to use his wits to figure out how to best use his skills. He also put in a lot of hours in the backyard rink he shared with his brother.
To me, Pauli and Toews exemplify that, if practice doesn’t make “perfect,” it certainly helps you to develop skill — and nail that impressive trick shot.