Using the Net in the Offensive Zone

Andrew Dovey joins the Coaching Project as a guest coach this month to talk about using the net in the offensive zone.

Andrew is an experienced collegiate hockey coach, currently serving as Assistant Coach with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Prior to U of T, Andrew was an Assistant Coach at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY and Adrian College in Michigan.

Andrew Dovey - Men's Ice Hockey Coach - University of Toronto Athletics

The rest of this post belongs to Andrew. Enjoy!

Using the Net in the Offensive Zone, by Andrew Dovey

 “Creating Offense” is something everyone talks about. As we all know, the team that scores the most goals wins the game. Offensive trends in the game have been adapting, reinventing and tailoring to each team’s strengths and to the personnel on their rosters. Bigger, heavier teams tend to play below the goal line in the offensive zone, while other teams with more skilled puck handlers and skaters may use the areas higher in the zone to connect passes and outnumber the opposition to create scoring chances. Throughout this project, I intend to show you how NHL teams are using the net to their advantage during their forecheck and entries, when they have possession and how players are using the net to create separation on point shots.


[Puck Deposit Video]

These clips are great examples of transitioning from attacking off the rush to maintaining possession in the offensive zone. Both clips show attacking the middle of the ice, kick outs at the blue lines, corner deposits, puck retrieval strategies where the middle driver uses the net to create separation. Once getting time and space the puck carrier is than able to scan the ice for options to the net.

Here is a couple skill drills that focus on deposits, rims and retrievals in the offensive zone.

Offensive Zone Possession

[OZ Possession Video]

In these clips, watch as defending teams track back into their end zone. Defensive structure begins to take place. During offensive zone possession, watch the offensive player who either makes the pass or scores the goal. This player uses the net to create separation and put the defending team in a vulnerable position. As switches take place in the defensive zone coverage, the offensive team is able to capitalize.

Here is a game we use to work on holding onto the puck, but also utilizing the net as a tool to gain time and space.

Point Shots:

[Point Shot Video]

Similar to the clips we have seen, these are great examples of forwards using the net to create separation off defensemen or low defending forwards. The attacking team has moved the puck from low, to high, to create odd man situations higher in the zone. Once the offensive team has an opportunity to shoot the puck towards the net, the low forwards use the net to stay under the defending team. By doing this, they are tougher to cover and add unpredictability for the goaltender. Also, it makes defenders constantly shoulder check and forces them to stay in communication with their teammates.

Below is a drill that can be used to encourage your players to use the net when the puck is moved from low to high. Different variations may include adding a defender and making it a 2v1 net front.

Bonus Clips…

Boston does a great job utilizing the net on this offensive zone face off.

[Boston OZFO]

Wrap Up:

Offensive schemes and trends will always be changing and adapting. If players and coaches can learn to use the net as an advantage, I believe the amount of time and space in the offensive zone will increase, and teams will generate goals and scoring opportunities more often. Regardless of how you are doing it and how the game has progressed, one thing has not changed. The net is in the same spot it has always been; use it to your advantage.

Andrew Dovey

Assistant Hockey Coach

University of Toronto

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