June 19th, 2018
HockeyShot Pro Tip of the Week
You’re flying down the wing and beat your first man, the last defender skates helplessly backwards, his skates getting tangled up as you deke to your left, toe drag, and slip around him. Now the only person left between you and the back of your net is the goalie. He’s made 31 saves tonight and your team’s down 1. You panic and fire off a quick shot. It grazes the outside of his blocker and ricochets off the glass as the buzzer sounds.
The drama may not be familiar, but for many players, beating the goalie can turn out to be the most difficult part of hockey. After all, it is your final step before lightning the lamp and skating past your bench to get props. You can have a hard shot, good hands, and a great hockey IQ, but if you can’t combine them all, goals will be hard to come by.
Step 1 - Head Up!
This gets talked about all the time in hockey, especially if you’re playing in a contact league. When you’re not scanning the ice to see if a big hit’s coming, keeping your head up allows you to know exactly where you’re going and what’s coming next. This works particularly well when you’re trying to score. If you can see the goalie first, it allows you to read them before making any decisions.
Step 2 - Think about it
Now that you’ve read how the goalie is set up, take the time (quickly!) to run over your options. Should you shoot, pass, or try and deke? If you see a gaping hole or a side left open, don’t be afraid to fire a shot. If you see a teammate streaking down the wing, fire them a pass if they’re in a better position. Finally, if it’s just you and the goalie, create some movement to open up more scoring lanes.
Step 3 - Where’s the goalie?
Lots of new players don’t take the split second to notice where the goalie is positioned in the net. If the goalie is out of the net, chances are you have less shooting angles and need to opt for a deke. If the goalie is further back in their net, look for those high scoring spots like the corners, inner posts, and five-hole areas.
Step 4 - Movement
If the goalie is on top of their game, they’ve most likely started to cut off your angles, and challenge you. The only way to create more open options for yourself is to get the goalie to move laterally. This means creating movement yourself! Remember that wherever your stick goes, the puck follows, meaning the goalie is going to keep up. If you can create enough movement left to right, you can make the goalie make a mistake, or over-commit meaning you can find the back of the net.
Step 5 - Posts
As long as you remember that if you can get to the post faster than the goalie can, 9 times out of 10 there’s going to be an opening. Sometimes this just takes 1 move, sometimes it can take 5, but the outcome is always going to be the same. As long as you can create enough space at the post to fit a puck in, you’re giving your team a goal.
To conclude, remember that as long as you can give yourself enough time to make the right decision, you always have the advantage over the goalie. You get to decide when the goalie moves, and where, so attack with confidence. Keep your head up to see everything on the ice, because more often than not, passing to a teammate is a way more effective way to create a scoring chance. If all else fails, take a nice hard shot to any of the posts, and aim for the net, at the very least you’re going to create some chances and rebound opportunities.
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