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He Shoots, He Scores

“He shoots, he scores” is something we have heard many times during broadcasts of National Hockey League games and college games. Every positional player who ever played the game wants to hear those words with their name attached but what really happens to allow a player to score? Goalies are getting bigger, faster and better with goalie equipment getting bigger and lighter. All these things are making it harder and harder for players to score.

I learned, from Scott Bjugstad, while working on ice with him on several occasions, that even with all the advantages goalies have today that there are still two ways to score goals.

The first one is the element of surprise. Goalies learn early that when a player goes into a glide while coming into the scoring area, he most likely will deliver a shot. They prepare themselves and are ready for the shot. When a player continues moving his feet and skates through the shot they can catch the goalie off guard or back on his feet offering little or no resistance. This technique will also automatically drive the player to the net offering the possibility of jumping on their own rebound as well.

The second method is getting the goalie to move. Every time a goalie moves latterly, across the net holes open up. A common area that opens up is the five hole because goalies have to move one foot or leg at a time. This also allows a player to shoot behind the goalie. When a goalie moves from one side of the net to the other it becomes difficult or impossible for them to quickly go back. To get the goalie to move a player can attack from the side. This is a common practice in over time shoot-outs in the NHL. Another method to get the goalie to move is by using a pull-wrist or a pull-snap shot. Goalies are taught to watch the puck. When a player pulls the puck into their body with the toe of the stick, the goalie will move with the movement of the puck. When the player follows through, after pulling the puck into their body with a quick released pull-snap or pull-wrister the chances of scoring a goal increase tremendously.

These two methods of scoring work but like any skill in hockey they must be taught then practiced over and over until they become natural. Players will initially struggle when shooting or passing with their feet moving but once it becomes comfortable, not only will the ability to score increase but also the speed at which they perform other skills with the puck.


Lance Pitlick
Lance Pitlick

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