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Controlling the Puck Along the Boards

By Ian Taylor, OMHA Executive Director, 01/25/21, 12:15PM EST

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Since the majority of the game is played outside the dots, the ability to pick up loose pucks and control the puck along the boards and getting the puck inside the dots to create and offensive threat are important skills for teams and players to control play and drive offensive opportunities. In this clip, we show both. Let’s take a closer look and break it down.

  • USA8 makes an evasive turn inside the blueline, however FIN33 is able to maintain good body positioning, keeping USA8 outside
  • USA13 is available at the hashmarks, however, FIN27 has established good positioning and gap
  • USA likes to use the high cycle or scissor to generate offense from the blueline but the positioning of the two FIN players takes away this ice
     
  • With the high cycle option not available, USA8 rims the puck down low
  • After his initial ‘check-in’ to provide support, USA13 now ‘checks-out’ and an effort to lose his check, skates backwards down the wall, keeping himself facing the puck 
  • FIN7 has good position on USA10 and overall FIN has good shape with the puck outside the dots
  • USA13 continues to roll with the puck and he receives it behind the net 
  • FIN7 maintains his inside position on USA10 to take away pass to net-front
  • USA13 has effectively used the net and his skating below the goal line to create separation and a favourable gap on FIN27
  • When the puck goes below the goal line, this forces all Finnish players to turn their feet towards the puck and their own net
  • Although he has created a favorable gap, the puck is not in a dangerous spot – behind the net on the yellow dasher
  • As he prepares to catch the puck, he shifts his weight onto his outside foot on his inside edge as he plans his escape
  • The ability to pick up a puck on the wall will dictate what happens next…

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  • USA13 picks up the puck cleanly and executes the following in unison –
    • As he catches the puck he pulls it off the dasher in one motion
    • He pulls his hands across his body pulling the puck close to his body/skates to protect the puck from the stick of FIN27 who continues to pursue
    • He continues to ride the inside edge of his outside foot and starts to open up and drive north of the goal line
  • USA13 completes his open-up or mohawk turn and transitions from the inside edge of his outside (right) foot to the inside edge of his left foot
  • He pushes hard off his outside foot to escape and attack net front
  • In one catch & pull, he has successfully pulled the puck off the wall to the goal line and protected the puck from the stick of FIN27
  • USA13 continues to ride the inside edge of his left foot 
  • He continues to protect the puck and loads the puck on his backhand as he drives north above the goal line giving him multiple options
  • This is a deceptive situation for the goaltender as USA13 is a dual threat in this load position with USA10 set up at the back post.
  • He elects to shoots and go high above the blocker.

Watch the video again to see how the ability to control the puck on the boards leads to creating offensive opportunities by getting off the boards and inside the dots.

Here is a similar situation from opening night of the 2021 season, PIT87 catches the puck off the cycle behind the net on his backhand and pulls the pull in one motion to his forehand north of the goal line and only for an excellent defensive stick would have resulted in a cross-crease pass and sure goal.

The third clip features Toronto draft pick Rodion Amirov in the KHL. While he does not pick up the puck off a rim, he creates a scoring opportunity and goal controlling the puck behind the net – outside the dots. He does a beautiful job of riding his inside edge while controlling the puck loaded on his forehand.


Both of these drills replicate game-like scenarios. Players will need to effectively pick-up loose pucks off the wall and quickly make reads to keep the puck moving in order to put their teammates in good situations. Players will need to use a combination of controlled skating and puck control skills in order to gain control of the puck and create passing lanes for themselves and their teammates. Players should read off one another to find quiet zones and force defenders to make decisions in order to create scoring opportunities. 

Down The Wall Cycle

  • Drill starts with the D rimming the puck down the wall behind the net
  • F1 leaves the front of the net to pick-up the puck off the wall and has two options, turn to the strong-side or the weak-side
  • F2 mirrors and attacks the dot to receive a pass
  • End with a quick shot on net
  • After F2 shoots, they retrieve a puck from the corner and pass to the who will get to the middle of the ice for a shot
  • F2 skates to the front of the net, positioning themselves as the high screen
  • At the same time, F1 works their way to the front of the net, positioning themselves as the low screen

Off-the-Wall Attack

  • Drill starts with D rimming the puck down the wall
  • F1 will attack the puck from the face-off dot area, upon controlling the puck, they will push the puck down the wall to F2 similar to a cycle
  • As F1 receives the puck, F2 will leave the net-front and receive a quick pass down low
  • Once F2 receives the puck, they will skate behind the net looking for a passing option to F3 who drops down from the high-slot
  • F2 turns the net and delivers a quick pass for a shot goal
  • Once F3 shoots, LD will rim a second puck down the wall.
  • F2 will skate to control this puck on the wall and push the puck down the wall to F3
  • After the pass, F2 will skate to an area around the face-off dot, off the back post
  • As F3 receives the puck, they skate behind the net with the puck, F1 will present themselves as a passing option
  • This time F3 will pass the puck low-to-high to the RD
  • Once the pass is made both forwards will skate to the front of the net creating a layered screen
  • RD walk the line and end with a shot on goal

Find this drill in the OMHA Drill Share Group on CoachThem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian Taylor is the Executive Director of the OMHA and former Director of Hockey Development. A proud hockey dad of two, Ian has over 25 years of instructional and coaching experience.

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