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Video Coach

Using the Middle Lane to Create Offence and Mismatches

By Ian Taylor, OMHA Executive Director, 11/15/18, 11:15AM EST

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Video Coach | Presented by Hockey Intelligym

Generating speed, creating time and space as well as creating mismatches are all crucial when looking to produce offence. More and more, teams are looking to attack the ice behind the defenders, put them under pressure and create breakdowns. These require honing cognitive skills such as split second pattern recognition, and anticipation of the play.

With more resources available than ever before to players they can use lots of information to create a gameplan heading into a matchup. That said, using creativity and teammates to take advantage of scoring opportunities is vital for teams looking to put pucks in the net.

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Let’s take a closer look and break it down…

Middle Lane Drive & Low Support

Game Date: October 20, 2018

  • MTL41 picks up the puck with speed in the neutral zone and establishes himself in the middle of the ice between the dots.
  • His head and eyes are up reading the speed and gap of OTT72 and OTT2 as well as reading support.
  • MTL41 enters the offensive zone in possession. He is a threat to drive through the middle and this forces both OTT72 and OTT2 to retreat and brings them both to the middle of the ice.
  • As they close the gap, both OTT72 and OTT2 use their stick to take away time and space.
  • MTL41 uses a deceptive crossover to the middle of the ice and then passes in opposite direction between the stick and feet of OTT72 to MTL62 who has joined the rush.
  • MTL62 receives the puck with speed and drives wide into the zone attacking open space.
  • MTL62 has puck on his backhand, which allows him to protect the puck and not expose it to OTT72.
  • This pulls OTT72 to him as he looks to close him down.
  • MTL41 continues to drive to the net through the middle of the ice pulling OTT2 with him.
  • OTT89 is also applying back pressure. At this point, OTT has good numbers back in defense and have effectively contained the rush outside the dots.
  • MTL62 has successfully drawn two players to him and this is where the defensive breakdown begins
  • OTT72 moves to close down MTL62 along the boards but OTT89 is upright and puck-watching.
  • MTL62 makes an area-pass to space behind OTT72
  • MTL41, after taking OTT2 to the middle, gets inside positioning and drives towards open space looking for the puck.
  • This turns a 2V3 rush into a 2V1 situation
  • MTL24 quietly enters the rush without OTT89 being aware.
  • At this point, MTL now controls the puck inside the dots and has numerical advantage
  • Once in possession, MTL41 now creates a second 2V1 situation with MTL24 who has jumped into the play and is now a scoring threat
  • MTL24 gets his hands off his body to ensure he can take the pass on his forehand and without any stickhandle shoots on goal.
  • One stickhandle between the three MTL attackers. First touches for MTL41 and MTL24.

Here are two other examples of how the middle lane drive pushes back the defenders and creates breakdowns.

Here the player driving through the middle opens up and remains above the goal line providing a support option – because the player stays above the goal line, he remains a scoring threat and is able to walk to net-front.

In this last clip, PIT87 kicks the puck wide and then puts the puck down low putting the defending team under pressure. He reloads from behind the net, hunting open ice and when the puck is retrieved, he is set up to receive the ‘Royal Road’ pass uncovered.

All three clips illustrate that attacking with speed and attacking the ice behind the defenders creates breakdowns and scoring opportunities and more offence.


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 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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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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