Retrieving the puck along the boards happens countless times throughout the course of the game and it is where many 1 on 1 battles are won or lost. When players collect the puck off of the boards is not usually a highlight-reel play, but if they are able to learn a few simple concepts, they will be able to impact the flow of the game. These concepts will allow players to create space so they have time to make a play. Plus, with an evasive move, they will be much harder to hit!
In the video above, Coach Ben Eaves discusses two major concepts when retrieving a puck:
- Look Over Your Shoulder: This is concept # 1 because it is most important. Looking over your shoulder will allow you to know if you have time, or need to make an evasive move to create time.
- Retrieve The Puck At An Angle: This will allow you to keep your speed up while you are going to get the puck. Plus it is much safer than going head-on into the boards.
The video gives you three options to practice:
- Option 1: If you look over your shoulder and see you have time, continue skating full speed at an angle to pick up the puck and bring it up ice.
- Option 2: If you look over your shoulder and you see you have pressure, skate at an angle but use your upper body to deceive the defending team and quickly turn up ice.
- Option 3: If you look over your shoulder and you see someone right on you, point your feet (which will point your body) one way and quickly move your hips and move your feet in the opposite direction to evade the defender. This is usually the most effective but will take time and good edgework to get comfortable with. Note: When you get comfortable with Option 3, combine the lower body fakes with upper body fakes to really throw off a defender!
Bonus: Watch the Toronto Maple Leafs practice their puck retrievals and forchecking in this fun 1 on 1 battle.