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Barrie Colts goaltending coach accepts position with NHL’s newest team

By Gene Pereira, Special to Postmedia Network

Barrie Colts goaltending and assistant coach Mike Rosati has accepted a position with the NHL's newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights. The NHL expansion draft will take place June 21. KEVIN LAMB/PHOTO

Barrie Colts goaltending and assistant coach Mike Rosati has accepted a position with the NHL's newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights. The NHL expansion draft will take place June 21. KEVIN LAMB/PHOTO

There’s seldom a day that Mike Rosati doesn’t wake up thinking about ways to best stop a puck.

“It’s kind of who I am,” said the Barrie Colts assistant coach and goaltending coach.

A seventh-round pick of the New York Rangers in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, Rosati spent most of his 14-year professional career playing goal in Italy and Germany.

For more than 10 years now he has owned and operated the Canadian Goaltending Academy in Barrie and has spent the last five seasons grooming Colts netminders such as Mathias Niederberger and Mackenzie Blackwood.

“I spend every day teaching the position in some way, shape or form,” the 49-year-old said. “Whether it’s on the ice with the Colts or in a group setting with some young boys or girls learning it for the first time or in different stages, it really is a big part of my life.

“I watch the position, I study the position, I learn from others,” Rosati added. “I listen, ask questions to guys that have more experience than I do. You’re never too old or smart to learn something new.”

Rosati added one more title and a whole new crop of goaltending talent to work with when he was named the amateur goaltending consultant for the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights.

“It’s exciting for sure, especially being a small part of a new franchise and all the work and process that goes into it,” he said of the expansion team that will join the NHL next season.

Rosati will work under Golden Knights director of goaltending and goalie coach Dave Prior. The two share a long history, with Prior having coached Rosati in junior and then in 1998 when Rosati signed with the Washington Capitals.

“Dave and I go way back,” the Toronto native said. “He was my goalie coach in junior. He mentored me. My philosophy on how the position should be played was basically taught to me by Dave.

“We maintained a friendship and relationship over all these years and we always talked about working together one day with an NHL club, so when he got hired by Las Vegas his first phone call was to me to be an assistant,” Rosati added.

His job with the Golden Knights will ultimately be as Prior’s assistant. He’ll work with goalies in the Golden Knights farm system, junior prospects and report directly to Prior.

Long term, there’s a possibility that Rosati takes Prior’s role in Las Vegas as Prior steps more into a senior advisor role with the organization.

“But so much can happen between now and then,” he said.

Rosati has been helping identify goalies for the Golden Knights ahead of the NHL expansion draft on June 21, followed by the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, June 23-24.

That he and Prior are on the same page when it comes to working with goaltenders he believes should only help the organization in the long run.

“Dave and I speak a couple of times a week and we’re obviously talking goaltenders and situations and how a situation was played, and we see eye-to-eye on it,” Rosati said. “Whenever I emailed him my reports and discussed it, we’re completely on the same page.

“Moving forward, I think that’s going to be very beneficial that the same message is being expressed with the big club and with all the goalies hoping to make the big club one day.”

What that all means for his coaching days in Barrie, Rosati admits he really doesn’t know at this point. He’ll have a better idea after both NHL drafts when he sees just how many goalies are going to be in the system.

“There are so many things that need to play out,” he said of doing both jobs again this season. “Realistically, if there is going to be a need, if they have enough goalies in their farm system, then there’s a good chance I would be in a larger role with the team starting next season,” added Rosati, who will have to travel to the Windy City after the Golden Knights announced the Chicago Wolves as their new AHL affiliate earlier this week.

“But there’s probably a better chance that I could do both jobs as I did last year.”

He’s thankful for the support he has received from Colts owner Howie Campbell, general manager Jason Ford, head coach Dale Hawerchuk and assistant coach Todd Miller.

“They were great,” Rosati said. “They were excited for me and supportive, and allowed me to do my job with the club in Barrie and do my job with the Vegas franchise. That kind of support is huge and makes it so much easier.”

Rosati has always wanted to coach in the NHL and this new position with the Golden Knights is a big step in that direction.

Like any Canadian kid that has grown up playing and loving the game, Rosati’s ultimate dream was to play or work in the NHL.

“I’m not quite there yet, but a door has opened for me and I’m very grateful for that,” he said.

Rosati’s approach with goaltenders he works with has always been to be supportive, but it’s perhaps even more important to be honest and straight forward with them.

That goes back to what he learned under Prior.

“He was always brutally honest,” Rosati explained. “A lot of times the goalie doesn’t want to hear the honest truth about his performance or part of a performance, but that’s what makes you better.”

Everyone loves to be praised. That kind of positive reinforcement is important, especially for a young athlete, but Rosati believes it’s the critique that really makes you better.

When goalies learn from their mistakes and correct them.

“That’s when you get the chance for greatness,” he said.

With his goaltending academy off until August, Rosati will continue scouting and filing reports to Prior this summer. He next task will be at the end of June, after both drafts, when he’ll fly to Las Vegas to help out with a week-long prospect camp the Golden Knights are holding.

Goaltending has pretty much been Rosati’s whole life. Every day he looks forward to taking the ice and working in the crease.

He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Anybody who knows me, who’s worked with me or trained with me, hopefully they see the passion I bring to the rink because it really is a love of mine,” he said. “I love working, whether it’s young kids who play house league hockey trying to make it to AE (additional entry teams) or kids playing in the OHL trying to make it to the NHL.

“It’s a chance to pass on some wisdom, some experiences and the greatest thing is watching these young boys grow into great young men.” 

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