Ice hockey is a high-speed game, and the difference between a shot on net and a goal can come down to millimetres and milliseconds. No matter what position you play, here are the shooting skills you need to be a difference-maker.
A Quick Release
The faster the puck gets off your stick, the less time the goalie has to get in position. Even if the shot isn’t particularly hard, you may still score if you catch them unprepared.
Getting a shot away quickly requires a subset of subtle skills. Controlling the puck right when it hits your stick involves cradling it, even if the puck is wobbling or coming in hard.
You need to develop “soft hands,” which takes time and lots of repetition to master. Modern training gear lets you practice this at home with shooting pads that replicate the way pucks move on ice.
Industry leaders like HockeyShot Canada have “Passers,” high-quality rubber bands which return your passes, so you can practice give-and-goes and work on developing a quick release. Have your head up on a goalie, and if you see an opening, get the shot off before it closes.
Hockey nets are small, and goalies today are fast and very big. You’ll only have a small space to put the puck if you want to score, and you don’t get many quality scoring chances a game.
Usually, the most difficult places for a goalie to cover are the corners and the five-hole. Put a puck off the bar or a foot off the ice, and you’re likely to score.
Sometimes, a goalie can know precisely when and where a shot is coming from, but they’re still powerless to stop it. The best example of this in the NHL is Alexander Ovechkin, who for years has camped out at the top of the right circle on the power play let it rip.
Everybody knows it’s coming, but there is nothing a goalie can do! Ovechkin shoots too hard and gets the one-timer off quickly. Whether it’s a slap shot with all your weight behind it or an extra heavy wrist shot, power can be enough to beat a goalie.
Hockey is not just about power or speed, it’s also a cerebral game. When you have the puck on your stick, the goalie will be watching you closely for hints of what you’re going to do.
Knowing this, there are different ways to fake them out and use deception to put the puck past them. Fake a pass on a two-on-one and shoot for an open corner. Goalies look at the eyes of the puck carrier, so look away from your target and let it fly.
Whether you’re a defensive player at the point on a power play or a first-line centre, every hockey player needs an effective shot. If you work on these more minor skills at home, you’ll light the lamp and be a goalie’ nightmare.