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Video Coach

Skating Out Of Trouble When Under Pressure

By Ian Taylor, OMHA Executive Director, 11/08/21, 8:30PM EST


Video Coach | Presented by CoachThem

For our first Video Coach segment of the new season, we selected a simple concept, which is not always simple to execute - the ability to successfully retrieve a puck and carry it out of trouble.

The simple task of picking up a puck under pressure off the wall is the difference from getting out of your zone and on the attack or also extending time in the offensive zone.

  • This sequence starts with a face-off in the defensive zone.
  • NYR93 wins the draw behind him back into the corner.
  • NYR23 jumps to retrieve the puck from boards-side with MTL71 in pursuit.
  • NYR55 initiates movement to provide support and cover near-post.
  • Really simple but crucial skill here – SCANNING
  • Both NYR23 & NYR 55 shoulder check and scan for pressure, time and space in the ice behind them. 
  • Without this scanning, both players will not be able to have options and a plan before getting to the puck and are unlikely to be able to retrieve and manage the puck successfully.
  • NYR23 sprints to retrieve the puck with MTL71 pursuing him on his inside shoulder.
  • NYR55 is available to receive a pass and turn net to breakout on the weak-side.
  • (Important note: If there is a turnover, NYR55 still has the ability to protect the net. This is why it’s important that he take this route – near-post and around net; as opposed to holding net-front or providing an option on the far side of the net.)
  • NYR93 holds position as option for exit through the middle.
  • NYR23 approaches the puck and ‘sells’ the pass D-to-D pass to NYR55
  • NYR13 is ready to open up and provide an option on the weak-side and MTL73 looks to pressure below the goal line.
  • NYR93 holds his position and so does his check MTL11


  • NYR23 positions his body and stick to bump the puck to NYR55 who continues to scan for pressure and options.
  • MTL71 pressures on inside shoulder looking to force a turnover.
  • Important to note that NYR makes this fake early – he doesn’t initiate this move when he gets the puck – that would be too late and would limit options for escape.
  • NYR23 waves his stick over the puck faking the pass to NYR55
  • He executes a tight turn to his left away from pressure on right shoulder from MTL71.
  • NYR93 has hardly moved since the face-off and continues to provide middle support.

Draw Drills, Plan Practices

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  • With this view, you can really see how wide NYR23’s feet are providing a wide base and low centre of gravity.
  • You can also see his left foot opens and ‘punches’ into the ice to brake and turn hard.
  • At the same time, he rides the inside edge of his right foot to maintain speed through the turn before using crossovers to escape.
  • His hands are off his body allowing him full mobility and his upper body remains up and stacked over his hips.
  • NYR23 turns out of the corner explosively and this forces MTL71 to lose his balance and he falls.
  • NYR93 continues to hold and support
  • NYR13 sees this and immediately turns up ice to attack with speed
  • MTL73 is now forced to backcheck hard since the play he anticipated below the goal line didn’t happen. 


  • NYR picks up the puck cleanly, outside his body in a loaded position allowing him to turn up out of the corner using explosive crossovers. 
  • His eyes and head are up scanning again – pressure, time and space.
  • This view also clearly illustrates two available support options in screen.
  • NYR23 has now beaten his check – MTL71 - and explodes up with numerical advantage.
  • NYR93 mirrors the puck carrier, exploding straight up ice from his holding position, providing support in middle ice between the dots.
  • NYR13 has a couple of steps up on his check – MTL73 – providing a wide, weak-side option.
  • MTL11 stays above his check – NYR93 - while tracking the puck carrier
  • NYR23 continues to skate up ice and towards the neutral zone 
  • This is decision time for MTL11 – he moves to pressure the puck carrier to deny clean skating through the neutral zone.
  • NYR20 who climbed high after the face-off win now provides a strong-side option with MTL8 keeping a short gap.
  • NYR23 slips puck under MTL11’s stick to NYR93 who is now at full speed entering the neutral zone.
  • MTL8 who was outside the dots and defending the boards is now in trouble.
  • He backpedals quickly but his spacing between his partner is too wide and he’s unable to defend the puck carrier and the middle of the ice.
  • From a clean retrieval plus one pass, we now have a 2V1 – NYR 93 & 13 against MTL58 with a backchecker – MTL73.
  • The play finishes with a nice pass across and NYR13 finishes.

Watch the video again to see the importance of developing technical skills toolbox and game context to provide players with the skills and confidence to problem-solve and to win one-on-one situations.

Coaches - before implementing 5-man controlled breakouts, break down and isolate these skills and build simple drills that re-create these high-frequency events.

4x Breakout


  • Breakout and re-group 4 times and end with 3-on-2
  • Quick-Up, Wheel, Over, Reverse sequences
  • Coach dumps puck in, D retrieves and breaks out with F's, re-group with pass to coach who dumps puck in again

Key Points

  • Communication, passing options, low support, quick transition
  • All 3 forward should touch the puck before passing to coach
  • Add forechecker(s) to create a game like situation

Single Player Retrieval


  • C starts the drill by shoots/chips the puck below the goal line
  • As the C shoots/chips the puck, D1 will skate to retrieve the puck, through the dot line.
  • Once D1 has control of the puck, they will turn up ice and pass the puck to D2 and follow their pass to take the place of D2
  • D2 will pass the puck to D3 and follow their pass to take place of D3
  • D3 will pass the puck to D4 and follow their pass to take place of D4
  • D4 will pass the puck to D5 and follow their pass to take place of D5
  • Drill ends with a shot on goal.

Key Points

  • Add D6 to keep the drill moving continuously.
  • Switch sides halfway through
  • Can have the D retrieving the puck, pass to the wall or to the middle.
  • Have the D create time and space by using deception when retrieving the puck (stick wave, toe caps etc).

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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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