The defensive tactic every hockey player should know
By Rick Parisi, Weekend Warriors Hockey Academy
We’ve all been in this situation before. You’re playing in your beer league and there’s a player on the other team that should be playing about 3 levels above the one you are in. They claim they’re in your division because he or she wants to be with their buddies, but you know they’re checking the league’s stat page the next morning to see where they stack up among the scoring leaders. In a word: dirtbag! But if the league won’t do anything about it, what can you do? Two-hand him one across the shins? (Oh, so tempting.) But do that and you’ll end up in the sin bin, with the result your team is down a man. There is a better idea: It’s a simple tactic known as Blade Mirroring.
What is Blade Mirroring?
It is so simple you’ll want to kick yourself for not trying it sooner. All you do is this: while keeping only one hand on your stick, extend your stick toward the puck carrier’s stick blade. You want your blade to be flat on the ice, generally with the curve up, but this can also work curve down. The key is to move your stick to follow your opponent’s stick, such that your blade is always in a position to prevent them from shooting or passing the puck to the dangerous areas of the ice. Your blade should be close to the blade of your opponent’s stick. Do it so that his or her only options are to turn away, pass to the peripheral areas of the ice (i.e., further way from your net), or if he or she chooses to shoot, then it gets deflected up and away by your stick.
A Highly Effective Tactic
If Blade Mirroring is done properly, you will thoroughly frustrate your opponent. It simultaneously applies pressure and eliminates his/her options. The beauty of this technique is that it works even if that player is a much better skater than you are. Simply maintain good positioning, between your opponent and your goal, and move your stick to follow their movements (speaking for myself, I can move my stick a lot faster than my feet). I find it particularly effective when your opponent is already in the corner or outside of the dots. I love it when I can frustrate a player that is much more skilled than me; oftentimes they will make bad decisions, like a poor pass that ends up being a turnover. That’s a win! And did I mention how much your goalie will appreciate you?
Take a look at the video below where former NJ Devils defenseman Scott Stevens explains the skill, which is also called “stick on puck.” To me, the most shocking part of this video is the end, where Stevens says he didn’t learn this skill until his 13th year in the NHL! (Not that surprising, I guess, as Stevens never came to a single Weekend Warriors camp.)
Here are three takeaways to keep in mind with Blade Mirroring. Try this next time you play—it will make a huge difference in your defensive game.
1) Although Blade Mirroring is a defensive tactic, it’s not just for defensemen
2) This technique can be used against any opponent, not just the superstars
3) Remember to keep just one hand on your stick! This allows for greater reach and mobility.
Rick Parisi is the Chief Executive Warrior of the Weekend Warriors Adult Hockey Academy. Weekend Warriors is an experience that features fun, camaraderie, learning, and individual attention for the adult recreational hockey player. For more information visit weekendwarriorshockey.com, or call 814-673-2000.