When looking at every goal the Curry College hockey team scored in 2019/20 it was interesting to see how many goals happened after successfully taking the puck off the boards.
If I categorize our goals by the original zone that the scoring play started, the percentage of goals originating with successful board play is as follows; defensive zone (74%), neutral zone (70%), and offensive zone (74%). In each category listed I am including both transition and possession goals. If we look specifically at offensive zone possession goals, it increases to 83%.
These numbers clearly show the importance of being able to play on the boards and ultimately take the puck into space and create a scoring chance. There are significant challenges when trying to get the puck off the boards. The player is often in a battle with at least one more player and the confrontation for the puck is fierce. In other cases when a player is first on a puck and not immediately contested they have limited options and good defense recognizes this as an opportunity to be aggressive. Your space and time is taken away quickly.
However, there are some habits, skills, and structure that emerge when this is done successfully:
- Shoulder checks
- Ability to use forehand and backhand
- Protecting the puck and turning your back to opponents to create space
- Deception with feet
- Knowing your “outs”/support structure
I recently caught up with Jon Lounsbury for a one-on-one “hockey talk” to focus on board play. Jon is an experienced hockey player and coach. An All-American in college and professional player and having been a Head Coach in prep school and junior as well as an Assistant Coach in NCAA D 1, and a professional skills coach, he is on the cutting edge.
We met to talk about board play, but like any good hockey talk, we ended up going down the “rabbit hole” and ended up discussing the impact of effectively changing your speed on offense when you don’t have the puck. I’ve included a 6 minute video that breaks down one goal and how board play and changing speed creates the opportunity.
It’s interesting to me how two people can see the same goal but gravitate toward different parts of the play. I’m curious to what other people see in this play…Please share what you see in the clip!