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Speed Through the Neutral Zone

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 09/08/13, 12:30PM EDT

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Why the Middle Lane Drive is Important in Today's Game

Speed through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone is crucial in today’s hockey especially without the ability to hold players up and obstruct players.

With wide entry into the offensive zone, the player in the middle lane drives to the net with speed - from here a number of things can happen:

  1. The puck carrier can shoot the puck on net – with a player driving the net with speed, the goaltender feels the pressure of the incoming player which may force the goaltender to stay deeper in their net – in addition, the pressure to make a save and control the rebound is more imposing
  2. The puck carrier slides the puck to the player driving the middle lane with speed creating a 2-on-1 with 3rd attacking player
  3. The puck carrier passes to 3rd player entering the zone who is skating off the back of the middle lane player
  4. The last possible outcome here is for the net drive player to be able to pick up any loose pucks off the rush and initiate the cycle since he is already down low, skating with speed and driving to the corner from inside to outside.

Simple play, various options, always creates havoc. 

Speed through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone is crucial in today’s hockey especially without the ability to hold players up and obstruct players.

With wide entry into the offensive zone, the player in the middle lane drives to the net with speed - from here a number of things can happen:

  1. The puck carrier can shoot the puck on net – with a player driving the net with speed, the goaltender feels the pressure of the incoming player which may force the goaltender to stay deeper in their net – in addition, the pressure to make a save and control the rebound is more imposing
  2. The puck carrier slides the puck to the player driving the middle lane with speed creating a 2-on-1 with 3rd attacking player
  3. The puck carrier passes to 3rd player entering the zone who is skating off the back of the middle lane player
  4. The last possible outcome here is for the net drive player to be able to pick up any loose pucks off the rush and initiate the cycle since he is already down low, skating with speed and driving to the corner from inside to outside.

Simple play, various options, always creates havoc. 

Middle Lane Drive

Use this drill to reinforce this concept:

  1. F2 passes puck to F1 and drives through middle lane to net. F1 drives wide into the offensive zone (OZ) and has option to shoot or pass back  to F2.
  2. After shot on goal, F2 picks up loose puck in opposite corner and makes direct or bank pass to D1 at the blueline. 
  3. D1 walks to middle of ice for better shooting angle and allows F2 to come back to net front to set high screen. F1 drives to net to provide low screen or back-side option for D1.
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