“The idea started back in 2003 and I was still playing at the time,” he said. “I had been giving private lessons and the goalies I started with were having success.
“I had been involved with other (goalie) schools and I didn’t like the way they were doing things. The level of detail wasn’t there and I knew it was important to give proper instruction.
“I also wanted to keep the cost reasonable. I went to camps growing up, but I couldn’t afford goalie lessons. I know it’s a sacrifice for parents, so I put everything I have into it.”
That focus has already been noticed by UNH starting goalie Casey DeSmith, a Rochester, N.H., native who currently leads all Hockey East goalies in virtually every category. He is second in the country in most categories and has been a key for the No. 2-ranked team in the country which may be named No. 1 today.
He’s been Hockey East Player of the Week four times already.
“Mike is really dedicated and he’s very serious about it but he’s also good natured,” said DeSmith. “He’s into the mental part of the game and stresses it more than other coaches I’ve had. I think it’s really important.”
If DeSmith pays close attention to Buckley, it’s understandable. He has not only coached goalies at every level, but he’s worked with pro hockey players like Mike Spillane and Brian Foster, who played some for the Florida Panthers last year, and he’s also given instruction to Jonathan Quick, the Los Angeles Kings’ netminder who was the star of the Stanley Cup back in June, and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins.
Buckley admits that, while it’s rewarding to work with goalies of any age, and he currently services about 120 clients of all ages, it’s exciting to work with the pros.