DURING HUMID Minnesota summers Steve Guider oversees "goalie boot camps" at which players jump tires or trudge across four-foot-deep padded mats in full gear. Guider wants to be "the best goaltender coach around," he says, and these drills are among his favorites for building endurance and balance. Guider, 38, came to Blaine (Minn.) High in 1992, first to work with boys' goalies, and added the duties of girls' goalies coach in 1994 and girls' head coach in 2003. During that time Guider, a former Blaine goalie himself, has seen four boys and four girls become Division I goalies. His latest and perhaps his greatest pupil is senior Ashley Nixon, headed to nearby St. Cloud this fall.
Nixon, 18, excelled last June at USA Hockey's Junior National Olympic development camp in Lake Placid. Over five days of scrimmages, she didn't give up a goal until her 102nd minute and had a goals-against average (0.80) twice as good as anyone else's. At Blaine she has led the Bengals to a 15-7-3 record this season, including eight shutouts. She'll excel in college, Guider says, because "she plays her best against elite players."
Nixon, the daughter of Scott, a construction foreman, and Mary, a secretary, first tended goal in youth leagues at age nine. She now emulates the butterflying style of the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur.
Of her exacting coach Nixon says, "We make fun of him a bit—when he writes plays on the board, every letter has to be the exact same size." Scott Bjugstad, a former Blaine coach who played center for the NHL's North Stars, says Guider "gets results because he's relentless." But though she may sigh at the prospect of yet another drill, for Nixon it's a system that works.