Creating Offense


Offense, quite simply begins the instant a team gains possession of the puck. So whether puck control is attained in the offensive, neutral or defensive zone the team with the puck is on offense.

Choosing the most appropriate tactic to execute in a given on- ice situation requires strong read and react skills, otherwise known as Hockey Sense. Now, regardless of where the play is happening on the ice there are several key offensive tactics that players can use, either individually or as a team, to gain a distinct advantage over their opponents. Using these tactics, a player can create time and space – two key elements to successful offensive play.

The three topics covered are:

  • Individual Offensive Tactics
  • Offensive Tactics – Neutral/Offensive Zone
  • Offensive Tactics – Offensive Zone

Individual Offensive Tactics

1. Body Fakes

  • When trying to deceive or sell the defender on a particular move, the ability to perform a head or body fake is essential.
  • Players can either shift their body inside or outside or drop their shoulder to convince the defender they are going a different direction. Players can also deceive the defender with a combination of head and eye movements.
  • The fake should be performed beyond the range of the defender’s stick. The player can then move laterally around the defender. Here, the attacker drops the shoulder, then cuts back toward the centre of the ice.

2. Fake Pass

  • A player can initiate a fake pass from either the forehand or the backhand.
  • By appearing to initiate a passing motion with the arms and stick, the attacker can freeze the defender, again creating the necessary time and space to allow the attacker to accelerate by.

3. Fake Drop Pass

  • The fake drop pass is a particularly effective tactic to use to cause a defender to lunge or move laterally.
  • Typically in the fake drop pass the attacking player carries the puck on the forehand, makes a motion as if “dropping” the puck to a teammate then accelerates on the forehand around the defender.

4. Fake Shot – Pass

  • The fake shot – pass is deceptive because it not only freezes the defender, it also forces the goaltender to commit to the anticipated shot.
  • The key here is the puck carrier’s ability to really “sell” the shot aspect of this fake, before passing the puck laterally to a teammate.

5. Fake Shot – Shoot

  • The puck carrier typically uses this fake to cause the goaltender to freeze and re-adjust, or, to gain a better shooting angle.
  • After faking the shot, the attacker can choose to shoot at a more exposed part of the net, or move to find a better opening.

6. Attack Triangle – Puck Between Legs

  • Similar to the previous drill, attacking the triangle between the legs requires drawing the puck wide, outside the reach of the defender and then sliding it through his legs.
  • The attacker can now step around the defender and pick up the puck on the back side.

7. Control Skating

  • By controlling the pace of skating the player without the puck can provide a better passing option for the puck carrier, while at the same time posing another threat for the defender to think about.
  • Here, the player without the puck slows down, creating a passing option for the puck carrier.

8. Saving Ice

  • In this skill, the non-puck carrier moves laterally to provide a better passing option for the puck carrier.
  • Saving ice can be a difficult concept for young players to learn, but successfully developing this skill will create many more options offensively.

9. Facing the Puck Carrier

  • Facing the puck carrier is an important off the puck tactic that all players should master.
  • For the non-puck carrier, the execution of open pivots and being able to turn effectively are essential to being in position to receive a pass.

Offensive Tactics – Neutral/Offensive Zone

1. Cross & Drop

  • A cross can be initiated by either the puck carrier or another puck carrier.
  • In the cross and drop technique the player with the puck crosses in a flat arc in front of the player without the puck.
  • The player without the puck supports behind the puck carrier and upon receiving the drop pass should attack with speed.
  • Effective execution of the cross and drop will force the defender to move laterally to defend the play.

2. Pass & Follow

  • In the pass and follow technique, the puck carrier attempts to force the defender to adjust position by threatening with the puck, allowing the puck carrier to then pass to a teammate in an open passing lane.
  • The original puck carrier now skates in the same direction as the new puck carrier in a position of support, ready for a return pass.

3. Regroups

  • When a puck carrier with no passing options has been steered to the outside, a regroup can be used to maintain possession of the puck.
  • Here, by utilizing either a tight turn or turn back, the puck carrier can play the puck back toward his own goal to a defenseman or support forward, allowing the offensive team to retain possession and attempt another attack into the offensive zone.

Offensive Tactics – Offensive Zone

1. Net Drive

  • Ideally, the attacking team should always be a threat to take the puck to the net. The net drive involves a fake by the puck carrier followed by a lateral move and quick acceleration.
  • Upon gaining the outside, the puck carrier should keep their feet moving and cut in after gaining a stride on the defender to improve shooting angle and prevent the defender from recovering.
  • The net drive is a priority base for other tactical attack options. If the defender respects the ability to net drive, many other tactical options become available.

2. High Delay

  • When the puck carrier drives the net and reads that the defender has taken away the lane, the puck carrier can turn away from the defender to gain time and space.
  • This high delay provides the attacker with the options of walking to the net, passing to a trailing teammate or cycling the puck low into the corner to maintain possession.

3. Attack Triangle – Drive, Middle Drive, Man High

  • In this second attack triangle option, the puck carrier drives to the outside, while the 2nd player drives to the net through the middle lane, creating a passing option for the puck carrier, while driving offside defenseman deep into the zone.
  • The third player, or “man high”, reads the middle drive and flat skates inside the blueline to provide puck support an additional passing option.

4. High Walkout

  • The high walkout is a great tactic to use when the puck carrier has control of the puck in the corner.
  • To create pressure on goal, the puck carrier drives off the boards in a semi-circle pattern, keeping his feet constantly moving while walking high to the net.

5. Fake Wrap Around Pass Short Side

  • The fake wrap around pass short side, is a move that plays the puck back against the flow. As the puck carrier performs a “wrap around” like move he plays the puck back in front of the net to a teammate.
  • This play is very effective if the goaltender moves away from the near post and across the net.

6. Low Cycle

  • Basically the purpose of cycling is to use the quiet zones of the ice to maintain puck possession. In the low cycle, the player with the puck, using good puck protection techniques, spot passes the puck off the boards.
  • The forward in front of the net reads the cycle and jumps down to pick up the spot while the high forward rotates to position in front of the net.
  • Ideally the cycle confuses the defensive coverage and a lane to the net opens up.

7. Back Pass Off Boards

  • Generally used when under close checking pressure, the attacker chips the puck off the boards behind him and picks it up on the other side.
  • The key to this move is drawing the defender into overplaying the puck before chipping it back against the flow of play.

8. Defense Back Door

  •  Defense activating off a set play in the offensive zone.
  • The weak side defenseman, using effective timing and control skating, moves in from the point looking for a cross ice pass or a pass by a player from behind the net.