Wednesday Drill of the Week: Half Ice Down Low Play

Half Ice Down Low Play

A half-ice situational practice drill. Can be done out of both ends or just one side, depending on numbers and teaching situations.

The drill starts with two Fs (XF) facing the boards in the corner – two D (OD) are about 3 feet off of their backs. The remaining players (1 XF, 2 XD and 3 OF) are in defensive position in the zone. Coach rims a puck around the wall, the forwards have to stop it and then play 2v2 down low, attempting to attack the net and score. On a whistle, coach will pass the puck to the other XF waiting in the opposite corner – the defensive team has to quickly adjust and reset their coverage to this new situation/second puck. Now all players in zone are live and it is played out 5v5.

This is a great situational drill to work on either dzone or ozone team play. Offensive players can work on puck protection, attacking the net, creating time and space through cause and effect, etc. Defensive players work on their ability to contain, using their sticks to influence the play, positional discipline, quickly changing sides, etc.

Goals Scored in the 2015 NCAA Tournament: Regionals

This weekend, there were 12 games played in the NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Tournament. Those 12 games resulted in four regional champions that are heading to Boston for the Frozen Four.

In those 12 games, there were a grand total of 66 goals scored. I took a closer look at those 66 goals, where they came from and if there were any trends that could be noticed. I looked at a few different categories on each goal – strength, time in zone prior to goal, zone entry type (carry, dump, faceoff), goal type (rush, in zone possession, forecheck, faceoff, empty net), clearing attempts prior to goal, turnovers prior to goal, and lost battles prior to goal. Here’s a brief summary of the numbers:

  • Of the 66 goals:
    • 9 were empty net (13.64%)
    • 14 were on the Power Play (21.21%)
    • 3 were Shorthanded (4.54%)
    • 40 were even strength (60.61%)

Let’s look closer at the 40 even strength goals

  • 31 of the 40 (77.5%) came after the puck was carried into the offensive zone
  • 20 came off the rush
    • Average length of possession in zone was 5.05 seconds from entry to goal scored
  • 14 came from offensive zone possession
    • Average time in zone was 22.07 seconds from entry to goal scored
    • 13 of 14 came from at least one lost battle by the defending team (92.86%)
    • 9 of 14 came after the defensive team had an opportunity to clear (64.29%)
    • 8 of 14 came after a change in possession in zone (57.14%)
  • 1 came off of a faceoff
  • 4 were the result of good forechecks

Taking a closer look at the goaltending (57 goals allowed):

  • 15 of the 57 (26.32%) goals beat the goaltenders clean (goalie had time to set on the shot)
  • 18 of the 57 (31.58%) came immediately following a pass
  • 12 of the 57 (21.05%) were scored on a rebound
  • 12 of the 57 involved traffic at the net – either a tip (3 – 5.26%) or a screen (9 – 15.79%)


  • I had suspected prior to doing this research that a good majority of goals were scored after a failed clear. While it is a very small sample size, about 65% of goals scored in the offensive zone come after a failed clear.
  • I was surprised with the high number of rush goals – having half of the goals scored at even strength be off the rush is a surprisingly high number.
  • I am not surprised that the number of goals after a lost battle is very high. Often teams that maintain possession do so as a result of winning puck races and 1v1 battles – the longer you possess the puck, the more fatigue sets in and the higher your chances of scoring.
  • Turnovers in the defensive zone are especially damning as well – 57% of goals scored off off OZ possession come after a turnover.
  • The number of goals scored that beat the goaltenders clean was surprising. Over 25% were shots that beat a goaltender that was set on the shot. More on par with expectations was the number of goals after a pass and off of rebounds.

It is a small sample size, but it is very interesting to look at and see how goals are scored in the biggest games in Division I hockey. Bottom line – execute your clears, don’t turn the puck over and limit possession time in the offensive zone for your opponent…things that all good coaches preach on a regular basis.

Update: Here is the data set that I used in a pdf form:

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Half Ice D-Zone

Half Ice Down Low PlayA half-ice team drill this week. This is a situational defensive play drill used to practice D-Zone play. The drill starts with a puck rimmed in to the far side. Two forwards and one defenseman are on offense (X’s), while two D and two F’s (O’s) defend. On the whistle, the coach plays a puck to the down low forward on the other side of the ice. Now it becomes 5v5 in zone, with the four defensive players changing sides and the three offensive players resetting and joining the play.

This drill works on two critical elements of play in zone – keeping opponents on the perimeter and pucks changing sides. In zone, pucks changing sides of the ice can create some of the best opportunities for the offensive side. The defensive team has to change their alignment, move to new positions and survey the new scene. Training your team on how to react and how to play these situations will get them more comfortable when this happens in a game.

On the offensive side, it helps your players with playing pucks on the wall, finding creative options (using the point), protecting the puck in outnumbered situations and quick attacks when the puck changes sides. As an offensive player, when the puck changes sides is your critical moment to attack. You should instantly look to beat your man to the net and create an offensive opportunity. Seize the moment of confusion for the defense and take advantage.


Wednesday Drill of the Week: 3v2 Quick Hitter

3v2 Quick Hitter

A simple 3v2 drill this week. Two defensemen start at the top of the crease (XD). One forward starts behind the net, one starts on the goal line extended and one in the mid slot. Coach rims a puck in and the three forwards attack the two D tight at the net. It is intended to be a quick attack drill starting from behind the net.

The skills focused on for forwards are playing pucks off the wall, puck protection, quick and decisive puck movement, playing away from the puck, creating passing lanes and angles, getting pucks and bodies to the net.

For defensemen, the focus is on great stick position, taking away options, and playing a short ice 3v2. D need to maintain positioning while taking away the most dangerous threat. Typically speaking, the strong side D is going to need to play a 2v1  (with one coming from behind the net) while the weak side D has to maintain position on the slot man.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Devils 2v2 Net Front Regroup

Devils 2v2 Net Front Regroup

A multi-faceted drill this week: Devils 2v2 Net Front/Regroup. This rill starts with a pass from down low to the strong side D. D-D pass then a shot or a pass to the high roll F for a shot. Two D step out from next to the net and defend the net front against the high roll F and a second F who battles for a screen. After the shot, a second puck is placed in the neutral zone by a coach. The offensive D retrieve it and regroup with the forwards, while the two net front D gap up and play a 2v2 rush. The drill runs out of opposite ends in an alternating sequence.

This drill works a number of concepts, including offensive zone play with your D, net front battles between D and F, a neutral zone quick counter and 2v2 rush play by the forwards and the D. Due to the number of D involved in the play, you need to have 8 defensemen in order to run this drill. The D always play out of the same end, rotating from offense to defense.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: 3v2 One Puck

3v2 One Puck


A simple yet effective drill. 3v2 One puck starts with three forwards playing below the tops of the circles against two defensemen. Three new forwards and two new defensemen are waiting (F near the tops of the circles, D near the red line) to go. When the D gain possession, they move the puck to the new forwards who then attack the new D on a 3v2 rush. That rush plays out into a down low cycle and three new forwards and two new defensemen step onto the ice. The drill becomes continuous when the puck gets cleared by the D to the new forwards. The next forwards waiting to go can play near the top of the circles and take away any high roll attempt by the forwards cycling in the zone.

This drill is great for working on offensive attack concepts as it begins with a 3v2 rush and plays into down low cycle play. We look to get a good net drive and good width on our attack through the neutral zone, followed by a good net front presence and rotation on the cycle, always looking to take pucks to the net and attack through seams. You can really emphasize and teach cycling and rush concepts as the reps are short – grab players as they finish and talk to them about their options. A simple yet effective offensive drill.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: 3v3 on Rim

3v3 on Rim

This drill is a simple 3v3 Drill using one end of the ice. Everyone starts stationary. Offensive team starts with two forwards on the goal line and one in the high slot. Defensive team starts with two defensemen on top of the crease, one forward in the mid slot. The drill starts with a coach rimming a puck to either forward, and then plays out 3v3 from that point.

Why do 3v3 this way? It isolates position specific skills for teaching. First, it allows the forwards to retrieve the puck first, forcing them to work on playing the puck off the runner and working with a defender on their back. Second, it helps forwards to understand spacing, support options and release points when the puck is below the goal line. One the defensive side, it helps defenders work on closing down on attackers, taking away time and space, and anticipating the offensive play. As a team, the quicker you can anticipate what the offensive team will do, the quicker you can shut it down.

As a coach, you can work on individual skills this way, as well as basic down low defensive zone and offensive zone play.