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Attacking Below the Goal Line - Skills of the Modern Player

By Ian Taylor, OMHA Executive Director, 03/19/21, 3:00PM EDT


Video Coach | Presented by CoachThem

This clip provides a masterclass into the skills of the modern player – body position, puck protection, rolling on edges, weight shift, creating mismatches, occupying multiple players and multiple touches within an offensive sequence – but our focus is on the ability to open up a scoring opportunity from behind the net and similar to Hunting the Dot - the role of the player without the puck, to make himself available to create a passing seam for the puck carrier.

  • This play starts with MIN97 driving up the boards, low to high, in the OZ with defender ARI8 in pursuit
  • We pick this up after MIN24 skates down from the blueline opening up space for MIN97 to attack
  • ARI has established numbers in defense, however, MIN36 is alone in the high slot with a comfortable gap between himself and ARI48
  • MIN27 has taken a net-front position to screen the goaltender in case of a shot from the point.
  • MIN97 continues to attack with MIN8 still defending him; he skates towards ARI81 who reacts and steps towards him
  • MIN97 has drawn two players to him and he then slides the puck laterally to the still open MIN36
  • MIN27 maintains net-front position in case of shot and ARI23 fronts him for potential shot block
  • For the second time in this sequence, a MIN player has drawn two players to him, as MIN36 winds up to shoot, he draws ARI46,who tries to close gap and fill the shooting lane, and ARI81
  • MIN97 identifies open space behind ARI81 and ARI8
  • MIN36 effectively uses the fake slap shot and zips a pass to MIN97 attacking downhill in space
  • ARI8 has actually recovered quite well and continues to hold inside position on MIN97
  • MIN27 adjusts his position based on the location of the puck and now holds inside position on ARI23
  • MIN97 attacks the net and using a subtle weight-shift maintains the puck outside his skates, protecting the puck
  • ARI8, once again, denies MIN97 from getting to net-front utilizing good body position and making himself long with active stick and also takes away the net-front passing lane
  • MIN27 now has completely changed his body position – from net-front screen, he now spins, blocking out ARI23 and presents his stick as a target for cross-crease pass 

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  • Without a passing lane, MIN97 drives behind the net, but he has created separation from ARI8 as he gets to the back of the net
  • ARI23 sees this and starts to leave net-front and protect the far post against the wrap-around
  • MIN27 continues to slide away from net-front and ARI23
  • ARI8 continues his pursuit of MIN97 and is within a stick-length 
  • ARI23 defends the post and ARI goaltender has also come across to protect the post
  • MIN97 has now drawn 3 players to him – he now slides the puck back to the same side he came from, through the legs of ARI8 to MIN27 who continues to slide over to provide a passing option
  • MIN27 catches the puck on his backhand and pulls the puck across and into the empty net.
  • ARI46 (remember him?) tries to get a stick on MIN27 but has reacted too slowly to the breakdown.
Watch the video again to see how the ability to draw two defenders opens up ice for an open team mate. In addition, attacking below the goal line forces all players to turn their feet and become puck-focused. Supporting players must find space between checks and identify passing lanes to make themselves available.

While this play has a feel of a ‘highlight-type’ goal, due to tight DZ coverage, we are seeing more of this play.

Here’s a play earlier this season, COL96 effectively uses his body to protect the puck and spins off his check to change the passing angle.

WSH92 illustrates in these two clips, the ability to make this play from both sides of the net.

1-on-0 Attack Moves - Pull in Push out

Quick feet on the delays, drive hard to net. Player pulls puck towards the skates and then pushes the puck back out transferring their weight to their forehand. In a game, attacker would read defender to make best available play. Second player quickly jumps to space and delivers a quick shot on goal.

  • Players approach "inside out" from the blue line and attack the obstacle which simulates a defender.
  • Players approach the defender with speed, head up and puck under control. Player pulls puck towards their skates and then pushes the puck and transfers their weight to the outside driving wide on the defender and takes a shot on goal.

1-on-0 Attack Moves - Pull in Push Out Drive Behind Net

  • Players approach ""inside out"" from the blue line and attack the obstacle which simulates a defender.
  • Players approach the defender with speed, head up and puck under control.  Player pulls puck towards their skates and then pushes the puck and transfers their weight to the outside driving behind the net.
  • As the player drives low behind the net, a second player jumps off the wall to receive a pass from the same side.

Attack Options

Quick feet on the delays, drive hard to net. Be an option below goal line then quick pass up high to D. D quick D to D pass, head up on shot.

  • Place 2 D along the blue line, F's in the corner with pucks
  • F skates behind the net and up to hash marks, delays and turns back towards corner, performs another delay, turns up the wall and the attacks the net for a shot
  • After shot (blue route), F receives a pass from the coach behind the net, passes up to strong side D, who goes D to D for shot on net.
  • F drives the net after pass, looking for tip or rebound

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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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