Goalie Doctor Shapes Future Hockey Stars in Aston

Aston's Goalie Doctor fixes what ails the region's promising young netminders.

Four years ago, Patrick Quinlan would don his hockey goalie’s uniform and take his place in the net on a patch of 20-by-40-inch synthetic ice in a Blue Bell basement. Minus his glove and blocker, he’d grasp two controllers, a virtual reality headset replacing his mask. He’d save puck after puck—just as he does on real ice. “If you’re ever injured, you can stop pucks without going on ice,” he says. “It’s a great tool.”

Now 16, Quinlan is the netminder for the U.S. National Under-17 Team. He’s one of many talented hockey upstarts who’ve benefited from the services of Goalie Doctor, a niche training program based in Aston and run by Matt Tendler and Mitch Harris. Tendler is Goalie Doctor’s owner and lead instructor. He and Harris run most of their camps and clinics at IceWorks Skating Complex in Aston, Elite Edge in Malvern and PNY Sports Arena in West Chester. Tendler is also the goalie coach at the University of Delaware, while Harris coaches goalies at Alvernia College in Reading. Harris’ 17-year-old son, Ryan, plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 18U team.

Goalie Doctor’s Mitch Harris (left) and Matt Tendler with student Jacob Aranda.
Goalie Doctor’s Mitch Harris (left) and Matt Tendler with student Jacob Aranda.

Goalie Doctor works with about 200 goalies a year of all ages—some in their 50s playing in adult leagues. “It’s a position that’s challenging and continually changing,” says Tendler. “No one likes to be the goat out there and be the reason why his team loses.”

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An investment manager when he’s not on the ice, Tendler founded Goalie Doctor in 2012. Three years earlier, he’d been a freshman netminder at Neumann University when the school won an NCAA Division III championship. He returned to his alma mater and coached goalies for three years, becoming head coach at Neumann before leaving in 2017. His coaching career actually kicked off back in 2005, when he worked at summer camps in Toronto for Vladislav Tretiak, the Russian goalie pulled after allowing a late first-period goal that led to the U.S. team’s “Miracle on Ice” victory in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Tendler’s father, Glenn, was a practice goalie with the Philadelphia Flyers in the team’s 1970s heyday before moving on to hockey apparel and equipment sales. “I pretty much grew up at the Spectrum,” Tendler says.

On the secondary-school level, Tendler and Harris work with students at the Hill School in Pottstown and Upland Country Day School in Kennett Square. Quinlan came under their tutelage at age 6 as a student at Upland Country Day. “Patrick is a standout pupil. Currently, he has the highest ceiling and trajectory,” Tendler says. “But we do have others playing semipro and in Divisions I, II and III.”

This past August, Quinlan moved from Kennett Square to Plymouth, Michigan, for a 24 months with the sport’s national development program and a future that includes a Division I college commitment during his 2025 National Hockey League draft year and a realistic shot at a 2030 Olympics spot. His parents have joined him for the journey. “They realize how fast an athletic career can change, so they want to enjoy it the best they can,” Tendler says.

A typical day for Quinlan begins at 9 a.m. with online school at the rink. By late morning, there are player meetings, warmups and practice—30 minutes of individual skill work, a 90-minute team session and another 90-minute afternoon practice. “This program is pretty draining, says Quinlan, who turns 17 next month. “It’s all I expected, and it’s a challenge. As a kid, I get to do what I love to do as a job—and that’s pretty rare.”

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How rare? In USA Hockey, there are 24,000 players registered in Quinlan’s age bracket. Maybe 2,000 of them are goalies. Just 24 players—three goalies—are on his elite team. “The numbers are pretty crazy,” Quinlan says. “I’ve always kept my head down and never worried about making this team or that one. I’ve just focused on where my feet were and relied on my ability.”

Goalie Doctor works with about 200 goalies a year of all ages. “It’s a position that’s challenging and continually changing,” says Tendler. “No one likes to be the goat out there and be the reason why his team loses.”

At 14 and 15, Quinlan spent two years in Rochester, New York, at Bishop Kearney High School, a brick-and-mortar hockey academy with enough space for 80 players, divided by age into four teams. “It was a step I had to make,” says Quinlan. “Hockey back home just doesn’t provide enough exposure. Scouting starts when you’re 13 or 14, so if I didn’t make the move, I don’t think I’d be here.”

Tendler’s father, Glenn, was a practice goalie with the Philadelphia flyers in the team’s 1970S heyday. “I pretty much grew up at the spectrum,” Tendler says.

Up north, Quinlan had his proudest moment thus far in the AAA Wendy Dufton Memorial Tournament in London, Ontario. For Bishop Kearney, he recorded five consecutive shutouts, including a 2-0 championship game win over the Toronto Jr Canadiens. “It was the best weekend of hockey I’ve ever had,” he says.

Garnet Valley’s Sarah Dobrzynski is another Goalie Doctor product. She studies physics in the pre-engineering program at St. Lawrence University in New York, and she’s also on its Division III women’s ice hockey team.

Dobrzynski has been playing since she was 5. She joined her first boys team in Delaware for two years. Then it was on to the Delco Phantoms Youth Ice Hockey Club, where she met Tendler and Harris. To help with her college recruiting prospects, she switched to girls hockey at the 16-and-under level, playing three years for the Philadelphia Jr Flyers and finishing as a national silver medalist her final year. “Coach Matt and coach Mitch have always been there to support me,” Dobrzynski says. “They reinforced my confidence in my skills and taught me new methods and techniques.”

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A junior at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, Wallingford’s Jacob Aranda is a California transplant and a one-time Anaheim Jr Duck. Since arriving here in 2015, he’s played for the Delco Phantoms, the Little Flyers, the Hershey Jr Bears Quebec Tournament Team, the Palmyra Black Knights and the Valley Forge Minutemen. He’s on his school’s varsity team, and also plays for the Philadelphia Little Flyers. “Most people don’t know that goalie coaching is separate training,” he says. “Matt was the first goalie coach I found after moving, and I can’t imagine finding anyone else first.”

Quinlan concurs. “They’ve shaped the goalie that I am today,” he says of his longtime mentors. “Now, we just continue refining my game.”

With Team USA, Quinlan plays a 25- to 30-game weekend schedule in the United States Hockey League. The nation’s top junior league, it’s populated with players as old as 20. He’s also playing in international tournaments in such far-flung locales as the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland. “The secret sauce is playing older competition,” Quinlan says. “When the anthem comes on and you’re wearing the USA jersey, it’s so surreal. But then it’s time to go to work.”

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