By Brian Keane
Scoring is an integral part of the game of hockey. Players that score are highly coveted at every level of play. So how do we give ourselves the best opportunity to score consistently?
Truthfully, as a player at the Division One level I didn’t score many goals. But since my playing days ended, I’ve studied the art of scoring relentlessly. Thanks to websites like NHL.com, we have access to every goal scored at the highest level. We’ve studied how the best score in the NHL. Here, in no specific order of importance, are 5 actionable habits to help you score more goals.
- Go to the net. When the puck is at the point, position yourself to screen the goalie, or set up backdoor for a tap-in. Having a nose for the net takes guts and the willingness to get knocked around a bit. If you can battle for position inside the area we call “The House” (where most of the goals are scored), you’ll find yourself getting rebounds, tipping pucks, and sometimes having shots go off your body and in the net (I could have used a few of those in my day).
- Find the soft spots. Within The House there are a few “soft spots” where we can position ourselves to support our teammates, receive passes, and still be in a dangerous scoring position (see below).
- Take back ice. When the puck is below the goal line, don’t stand right on top of the goalie. Take back ice out of The House and sneak back in. This takes timing and awareness. You see a lot of the top players at the professional level taking back ice—somewhat close to their D man in the O-zone—and then drifting back into the seams to make themselves a huge threat.
- Shoot in stride and through screens. Shooting in stride is one of the best ways to disguise your release. Combine this with shooting through a screen and you’re going to find yourself scoring in bunches.
- Carry that puck. Finding ways to carry the puck inside The House on a more consistent basis will lead to more scoring chances for you and your teammates. Puck protection, being physical with the puck to create space, tight turns and stop turns, are all skills that are needed to maneuver your way in The House.
Building up your shot takes good mechanics and lots of time and sweat. Try to shoot 200 pucks a day. Scoring is fun, so work hard to give yourself the best chance to score more goals and help your team win games!
HOMEWORK: Pick your favorite pro player and watch 20 of their goals. Then take notes on how they score. If they’re scoring this way at the professional level, you’ll be able to translate their success into your own success at your level of play.
Can you think of any other habits that would help you or your teammates consistently score more goals?
Brian Keane played Division 1 college hockey at UMass-Amherst (Hockey East), and Junior Hockey in the USHL for the Indiana Ice and Chicago Steel. He also had the good fortune of suiting up for his country at the Under 18 Ivan Hlinka World Cup. Keane is the founder of Prodigy-Hockey.com, a website designed to help educate and develop hockey players of all ages and skill levels.