Shield Goaltending was founded in 2020 by Marek Benda.
Shield Goaltending is an elite hockey program located in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador that provides services for goaltenders of all ages and abilities to improve their skills and reach the next level.
Our goal is to create a safe, positive environment where all goalies can enjoy playing the position while improving their game. We want to help every goaltender reach their potential and to develop goaltenders who are competitive at any level.
In addition, we want to support our goaltenders and help them to build up their confidence, to strengthen their resiliency, and to cultivate a strong work ethic. We also want to help goaltenders meet challenges, both on and off the ice, in a positive and constructive way. These lessons will stay with each of the goaltender long after they have moved on from our program.
Why "Shield" Goaltending?
Marek is originally from Czech Republic’s Bohemian region. The coat of arms for this region is represented by a red shield showing a two tailed lion rampart with a golden crown, which has been a symbol of the region since the year of 1213.
Historically, shields were used by knights in combat. The very nature of a shield is to protect and to prevent something from getting to you. Goaltenders have to constantly protect the net from attacks from players and deflect pucks from goals.
Taken together, the shield honours Marek’s home while also symbolizing protection, confidence, a safe environment, and no surrender or retreat.
Goaltenders are the most resilient players on the ice, like the shield was for knights in combat.
Marek Benda (Founder)
Marek is a former professional hockey player, who represented the Czech Republic as a goaltender in its national hockey programs; played in the QMJHL and played professionally in the Czech Republic before moving to Canada to study International Business in 2013.
Since that time, Marek has worked with Xtreme Hockey, where he had the opportunity to develop a successful goalie program. Marek has coached hundreds of goaltenders in Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond. Under Marek’s guidance, many are now playing at the most competitive levels in North America and Europe..
In 2018, Marek became the Goaltending Coach for the Newfoundland Growlers, the Toronto Maple Leaf’s farm team in the ECHL. In this role, Marek helped three of his goaltenders win the prestigious ECHL Goaltender of the Month, three of his goaltenders were promoted to the AHL, and one goaltender tied a league record (third place) for most wins in a row. Marek was also part of the Kelly Cup Championship first-place team in 2019. Despite the league’s shutdown due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Marek has remained a consulting Goaltender Coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
When not coaching in Newfoundland and Labrador, Marek travels across North America as an in-demand Goaltending Coach for top agencies and NHL development camps. Marek also volunteers his time with Hockey NL and helps local hockey associations to develop goaltenders.