Dave spent most of his Minor Hockey playing at the AA level in the French town of Longueuil, Quebec, located on the south shore of Montreal. At age 16 he was called to play Midget AAA in the small town of Amos 8 hours north of Montreal where he received the best student award from Midget AAA Quebec Provincial League and was chosen to play in the All-Star game alongside Roberto Luongo.
After a great season in Amos he was drafted by the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. Knowing that Jean-Sebastien Giguere was already established as the starter for the Halifax franchise and that he would keep dominating the league for many years to come Dave decided to aim for the NCAA instead of Major Junior and never reported for camp in order to maintain his college eligibility. Dave decided instead to play Jr. A and joined the Cornwall Colts of the CJHL (now called CCHL) as a starting goaltender. Dave earned All-Star team status in his first year (1996) and the Colts went on to win the league championship in a thrilling game 7 on home ice. Dave played two more years for the Colts and was named to the All-Star team as many times. In Cornwall, Dave had to be patient and work as hard off the ice as he did on the ice in order to improve his English and increase his chances to get recruited by an NCAA team.
All this hard work paid off in 1999 when he was finally recruited by Princeton University. As a 20-year-old freshman, the Tigers made him their starting goaltender in his first season. In 4 years at Princeton Dave played over 100 games and established many school records. He earned the Hobey Baker Freshman of the Year Award, the Media 3 Star Award three years in a row, was named team MVP and was an All-Ivy selection. On the academic side, Dave earned a Psychology degree and wrote his Senior Thesis on “The Impact of Anxiety on the Cognitive System and the Mental Processes Involved in Ice Hockey Goaltending”. Dave’s research, which was unprecedented in the Psychology Literature, made a huge impact on his approach to the goaltending position and allowed him to take his game to a higher level. His research and theories were supported by some of the top psychology professors in the world.
After graduating from Princeton in 2002, Dave received an invitation from Ron Hextall to try out for the Philadelphia Flyers. After a short stay with the Flyers that would have brought him to play in the East Coast League as 5th goalie in the organization, Dave decided to take his chances overseas in the Finnish Elite League (SM-Liiga). He signed his first professional contract with Helsinki HIFK and became their starting goaltender for the next three years competing against world-class goaltenders including Tuukka Rask, Antti Niemi, Tim Thomas, Pekka Rinne, Kari Lehtonen, and Niklas Backstrom. Even though Dave was one of the top goaltenders in the league, named team MVP and tied the all time record for most shutouts in a season, Dave’s career hit a hard bump in 2005 when Helsinki signed NHLer Thomas Vokoun to replace him during the 2004-2005 NHL lockout. After Helsinki, Dave went on to play a few more years of professional hockey including one in the Swedish Elite League with Skelleftea AIK. Playing professional hockey in Finland and Sweden allowed Dave to experience first hand revolutionary training methods and techniques that allow Scandinavian goalkeepers to dominate the NHL today.
In parallel with his playing career, Dave started coaching at a very early age. As a teenager he was already coaching younger minor hockey goalies in Longueuil, Amos and Cornwall. He always thought that breaking down and verbalizing his technique would improve his own game and think of new ways to perfect it. While at Princeton, Dave worked every summer as the head instructor for the Rick Heinz goalie schools where he planned, managed, and coached over 40 weeks of goalie camps across the United States and Canada. While playing in Europe, he continued to coach in several goaltending clinics sharing his knowledge of goaltending and psychology but also learning a lot from other goalie coaches in Finland (Hannu Nykvist, Jukka Ropponen, Ale Jääskelainen, Sakari Lindfors, Jan Lundell) and Sweden (Krister Holm, Andreas Hadelöv, and Alexander Eriksson). Every summer Dave would go back to his roots in Montreal and work with Novice to College level goalkeepers through private lessons, goalie clinics and goalie schools working alongside other goalie coaches including NHL’s Roland Melanson (Montreal, Vancouver), Marc Champagne (NY Islanders) Leo Luongo (Florida Panthers) and Frantz Jean (Tampa Bay).
When Dave retired from professional hockey in 2007, he had enough experience with kids that he was immediately hired as a High School Teacher. He taught special education programs for 4 years in Montreal and then moved to Ottawa with his family to teach French Immersion. He also worked as the Head Goaltending Consultant for Senators Sports & Entertainment for 3 years prior to opening his own facility. The Dave Stathos Goalie Performance Center opened its doors in September 2015 and has been home base for over 800 goalies on a yearly basis.
THE GOALIE PERFORMANCE CENTER
The Goalie Performance Center (GPC) counts over 20 highly trained goalie coaches operating out of the Bell Sensplex in Kanata and the Richraft Sensplex in Gloucester. The Goalie Performance Center has also partnered with the Ottawa Senators Hockey Programs to deliver all goalie programs across the city including Camps, Clinics, Private Sessions, Mental Training, Virtual Reality Training, and Coach Clinics. Dave is a Trained Master Level 3 Hockey Canada Goaltending Instructor and delivers multiple Goaltending Courses for coaches through Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO). Since getting recruited by Hockey Canada in 2016, he has trained hundreds of goalies and goalie coaches across the region. He also was the Goaltending Coach for the Kanata Lasers Jr. A / U18 teams from 2017-2020 before moving on to coach for Dunaújvárosi Acélbikák, in the Hungarian Professional Hockey League (Erste Liga).
CHARITIES, FOUNDATIONS, & ORGANIZATIONS
Dave is involved in multiple charities and foundations. He is the founder of the Canadian Chapter of the October Saves Goalie Challenge (www.octobersaves.org) which raises over $50,000 for the Children Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and cancer research every year through the efforts of the goalie community across Canada. He is also a member of the Foundation for Goaltending Research & Education (FGRE) (www.fgre.org) founded by Brian Daccord of Arizona Coyotes whose mission is “to provide goalies, parents, coaches and the hockey community the research, education, support, advocacy and advancement necessary to maximize the enjoyment of the position and protect its role and participants in the sport”. Dave is also a supporter of The Goalie Guild Foundation (www.thegoalieguild.com), a non-profit organization led by Justin Goldman which is “dedicated to educating, inspiring, and supporting hockey goalies and goalie coaches across the globe”. Dave also contributed to Goldman’s book “The Periodic Table of Goaltending Elements” released in 2017 and available on Amazon. He is also a member of Network Goaltending (www.networkgoaltending.co) and attends the Global Goaltending Retreat (GGR) (www.thegoalieguild.com/ggr/) annually which regroups 30 of the top goalie coaches from around the world. Dave also offers his services as a Mental Health Ambassador for the Lift the Mask Foundation (www.liftthemask.com) which is “dedicated to provide mental health and performance support to the goalie community”. On the local scene, Dave is the Goalie Coach Mentor of the Kanata Minor Hockey Association (KMHA), sits on HEO Goaltending Task Committee and is part of the HEO Goalie Equipment Donation Program.
Dave and his wife Johanna (from Espoo, Finland) live in Kanata with their son Niklas who was born in Skelleftea, Sweden (2007). Both Johanna and Niklas are goalies as well and the family dog’s name is “Price”, the official goalie performance camp mascot. Dave is also The Princeton Alumni School Committee Chair for Ottawa and Eastern Ontario and is responsible of coordinating all interviews of prospective students with Princeton Alumni in the region. Dave still teaches full time French Immersion and Physical Education for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and his passion for teaching is still endless whether it is in the classroom or on the ice. Dave’s broad goaltending and coaching experience combined with his deep understanding of psychological skills required to play the position make him one of the most unique goaltending resources in hockey today.