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Video Coach

The Benefits of the Early Pass

By Ian Taylor, OMHA Executive Director, 05/25/18, 3:15PM EDT


Video Coach | Presented by Hockey Intelligym

Skilled plays and players are often noticed by the ability to make difficult plays though sticks and feet and having the patience to hold onto the puck under pressure. While this is true, there are also times when a simple, early pass makes sense – creating clean plays that make time and space for your teammates.

What is shown in the clip below is what’s known as hockey sense. Using programs like the Hockey IntelliGym that are proven to enhance awareness and improve on-ice decision making, players can grow the mental side of their game to see plays develop from a new perspective.

This clip comes from the double OT game winner between Nashville and Winnipeg in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Game Date: April 29, 2018

Now, let’s take a closer look and break it down…

  • NSH15 enters the offensive zone wide – outside the dotline - with speed
  • NSH22 creates the 2V1 by driving through the middle of the ice
  • He drives to the middle of the ice and this pulls WPG33 to the middle of the ice and this creates a large area of open space for NSH15 to attack
  • WPG39 is backchecking hard with stick on ice
  • NSH15 reads the position and pressure of both WPG players as he nears the top of the circle
  • NSH22 is now in the middle of the ice and sets up in a passing lane and shows his stick as a target early
  • WPG39 continues to backcheck hard through the dotline and tries to get his stick in the passing lane
  • From this angle, watch how NSH15 is reading the play –  scanning the ice to see:
    • The readiness of his teammate for a pass;
    • The positioning of WPG33 – specifically his feet – as he starts to crossover and steps towards the puck
    • The proximity of the backchecker, WPG39
  • Just as WPG33 crosses over and starts his slide – this is when NSH15 moves the puck
  • The early puck movement leaves WPG33 is no-man’s land, he has left his skates and the puck has gone through him and he cannot recover
  • NSH15 is no longer wide, he has skated in towards the dotline and is now a dual threat – to pass or shoot
  • The goaltender, WPG37, is playing the puck and must respect the shooter
  • From another angle, you can see that the pass was made as WPG started his slide and once he goes to the ice, he is out of the play
  • You can also see the target that NSH22 has provided early as well
  • The early pass goes under the stick of WPG33 – this means the pass was hard and flat which makes it an easier pass to catch and control
  • NSH22 receives the puck alone at the hashmarks
  • The early pass gives him time and space in front of the goaltender
  • The goaltender, WPG37, tracks the puck across and pushes hard across the crease
  • NSH22 uses the combination of space and the hard push by WPG37 to pull the puck back across the net and scores

Watch the video clip again to see how the ability to make an early pass opens up time and space in a prime scoring area – skill, then is the ability to read the play and make a simple and effective play..

Video Coach is a series of articles which reviews a video clip from game action and then breaks down the sequence into frames identifying key skills, individual and team tactics, strategy and hockey IQ. Video is a great teaching tool that can be used by both players and coaches.

The Hockey IntelliGym is a breakthrough cognitive training technology that hones hockey sense and has been scientifically proven to improve player safety. IntelliGym has been used by thousands of players - from OHL teams, to USA Hockey, to last year's OMHA Minor Midget champions - to improve individual players' points total, heighten spatial awareness, and foster better anticipation of the play. Recent research from the University of Delaware suggests training with IntelliGym is a great way to reduce concussions and other on ice injuries. The software, which can be used on any computer, can be purchased here.

"What I'm noticing with IntelliGym is that it compliments my use of area games or situational pressure drills in practice. My players are recognizing and executing their options faster than they have in the past.  This improvement has translated to games. They are moving to open areas to support their teammate with the puck."

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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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