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How to Protect the Puck

Skill Drills

Stickhandling is a crucial skill for any hockey player, and as your talents develop and the competition grows fiercer, keeping control of the puck as you skate across the ice becomes increasingly complex.

That’s when deking comes into play, but it’s not all about one or two particular moves; you need to build a strategy that effectively gives you an advantage every time you take the puck.

In a previous lesson, we discussed the first principle of deking, which is to look for open ice and skate to it. In this lesson, we cover the second step, which is to protect the puck while you skate for open ice.

When the pressure of a defenseman blocks your trajectory to the net, you can’t simply skate with the puck in front of you; that leaves it in the danger zone, where your opponent is able to knock it away or steal it. Instead, you need to move the puck away from the defender as you skate for open ice. To do that, shift your stick to the side opposite your opponent and handle the puck with just your away hand. As you skate around the defensive pressure, lean toward your competition with your close leg jutting out to block his stick, your close hand extended down in a firm blocking position as well, and your shoulder dipped toward him to push his body away if he gets too close.

Once you’re past the defender or close to the net, you can break form to make your next move. As always, you’ll need to practice, practice, practice until protecting the puck is a natural instinct of yours when the pressure comes during a game.

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