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player tips

15

April

Hockey fans are being treated to a historical season from Auston Matthews who is the first player to score 66 goals or more in a season since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96. As of this writing, Matthews has netted 69 goals in 79 games.

With only a couple of games remaining in the regular season, he will likely break the 70 goal barrier and join the likes of Lemieux, Brett Hull, Phil Esposito, Wayne Gretzky and other legends at the top of the charts. This list is truly amazing when you consider Gretzky had 92 goals in 80 games and another season with 87 in 74 games. That 92 goal season included 120 assists. 120! A few seasons later the Great One tallied 163 assists.

Most teams have a goal scorer that can be counted on to find the back of the net on a regular basis. And as every good hockey coach will attest to, wherever you find a goal scorer, there is usually a great playmaker nearby. While everyone wants to score goals, having the talent to read a play and put the puck on the tape is an equally impressive skill.

Are you a good passer? Making a good pass can be the difference between winning and losing a game. In practice it can be the difference between a great start to a drill, or it ending before it ever begins as the puck slides down the entire length of the ice.

Practicing passing, and the proper fundamentals, should be a regular part of your skill training. Becoming a better passer is a simple way for players to make huge contributions to their team, and it all starts with a good hockey personality. A good personality you might ask? Absolutely, because in order to be a good passer you can’t be a puck hog! Great passers have a high ‘hockey IQ’ and try to making the right hockey play, not just trying to light the lamp themselves. And best of all? Great playmakers know that when they make a great pass, they oftentimes can expect a great pass back!

Tips and tricks to passing with precision:

Vision. Making a good pass starts with keeping your head up and being aware of the play. The skill of passing involves reading and anticipating the play, and not just making a pass, but making the right pass.

Accuracy = Tape-to-tape. Players hear this all of the time from coaches, and in order to make an accurate pass you need to look at your target and make a good, crisp pass with a proper follow through. Taking the extra split second to find your target and see how fast he is moving is something that will come naturally with practice. A pass into the skates of your linemate is a surefire way to quickly end a breakout or breakaway. Practice makes perfect, so hit the tape every time in practice and you stand a good chance of doing the same in the game!

Mechanics. The mechanics of passing have changed over the years as sticks have evolved. Gone are the days of needing to over emphasize receiving the puck, especially as players get older and stronger and the stick flexes when receiving passes. Some fundamentals do remain constant, such as not slapping at the puck. This is a common mistake players make at younger ages. Instead of slapping at the puck, players should concentrate on the puck rolling off the blade from the heel toward the toe in a sweeping motion. Weight transfer is also important, so move from your back to front skate as you begin your follow through.

Once players master the basic fundamentals of passing, they can start to practice more advanced passes such as a saucer pass, which is one of our absolute favorites! Take the time to work on your skills so that when the game is on the line, you make the perfect tape-to-tape pass!

Need more help with your passing and skill development? Join us at one of our 2024 Summer Hockey Camps! Check out available dates and locations by clicking here and we’ll see you at the rink!

26

March

To be the best, watch the best!

Posted by Greg Carter

This year there is a great debate brewing about who will win the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year. Chicago Blackhawk Connor Bedard and Minnesota Wild Brock Faber are both experiencing exceptional years. Bedard is a high talent forward while Faber is logging record ice time as a defenseman. What can you learn from watching both of these talents?

Train, Train & Train!

Faber leads the Wild with 25:05 played per game, logging 30-plus minutes five times. This would not be possible without being in top physical shape. This year we celebrated the 44th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice. A large part of the success of that team was head coach Herb Brooks whipping them into shape, better than any in the 1980 Olympics. “Again. Again. Again.” was a memorable part of the movie “Miracle” made about that team and as any top player will attest to, being in great shape is a key to success.

Skills = Success

While this is quite obvious, skill development is something that Bedard has mastered. The phenom entered the NHL as the most hyped rookie in years. He lived up to the expectations by showing off a shot, and release, that had even the Great One marveling over it. As a great coach once told our team, you can never quite working on skills.

Take advantage of every opportunity

Sometimes opportunities come along but once, and often are only there for a fleeting moment and must be taken advantage of. In the case of Faber, injuries to fellow Wild defensemen thrust him into a role that nobody imagined he would be in. He currently leads the power play and logs record ice time. When the opportunity presented itself, he was ready, and capitalized on an early career defining moment. Great players are ready for the moment!

Regardless of who wins the Calder Trophy, both players are worth watching anytime young hockey players have the opportunity. Much can be learned and applied each and very time they hit the ice!

Thanks for reading and we once again invite you to train with us this summer at one of our hockey schools. Many locations are already sold out, but you can click here to shop for dates, times and locations.

See you at the rink!

05

March

How Important is Hockey to You?

Posted by Greg Carter

It’s been a fun season from the peewees to the pros. With two NHL players (Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon) eclipsing the 100 point mark and another (Connor McDavid) about to do the same, there have been plenty of goals and talent to celebrate!

With most youth hockey tournaments complete we are in the ‘inbetween season’ and depending on where you live, that can mean many different things. Here in Massachusetts for example, we are in tryout mode as our youth hockey teams for next season are chosen in the coming weeks. 

In other parts of the country where teams for next season are chosen in September or October, you are likely spending the next few weeks in a spring league or development league as well as making final plans for summer hockey training.

One of the biggest decisions players are faced with at this time of the year is this:

How bad do you want to achieve your hockey goal?

We have talked about goal setting in a variety of past articles and the importance of this can’t be overstated. 

What’s Next?

Regardless of how your hockey season started and ended, whether you felt like you deserved more ice time or anything else, what happens next is more important than what happened last. And it all starts with deciding how bad you want to improve your skills and take your game to the next level.

One of our favorite past articles was about a player who showed up every day for summer workouts. While friends were sleeping in, going to the beach or doing other things, this player was dedicated to sticking to a schedule, never making an excuses. Hockey was important enough to the player that there was always a way, never an excuse. The results and success of this player spoke for themselves. 

So as you make important decisions about how, where and when to train this summer, we invite you to join us at one of our summer hockey schools located in 12 states.

The only real question that remains is, will you find a way, or will you make an excuse?

Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you at the rink soon!

03

February

The Great Ones Make it Look Easy

Posted by Greg Carter

A few years back we wrote this article about the great ones making it look easy. After watching Connor McDavid compete and win the skills competition at the recent NHL All-Star Game, we were reminded just how easy the great ones make it look!

Social media is full of skill videos featuring hockey players making incredible dekes and dangles and then finishing with a storybook goal. Watching this talent leaves everyone on the edge of their seat wondering ‘how’d they do that’? The answer is really quite simple: practice!

This summer we enter our 30th year of summer hockey camps in 12 states. It never ceases to amaze our pro staff how much the talent of young hockey players increases with each passing season.   

The level of play from peewees to preps has gotten to a point where each and every year the discussion in the coaches room is whether the level of play can continue to improve. Amazingly enough, each year skills do improve and the level of play does get better.

Last year at summer hockey school after watching a player make a move that literally brought the coaches to applaud, we asked the player where he learned the move. The answer, not surprisingly, was by practicing it. Over and over and over again. 

Like so many do, this player saw a goal scored on social media and immediately tried it. Then again at practice, and then again at home, in the basement and in the driveway. Everywhere and anytime this player had a stick and a puck, ball or anything else, he was practicing the same move.

Repetition and muscle memory are key to athletic success and within a relatively short period of time the player became successful with this move. After several more hours of practice he became great. Soon, he would ready to try it in a game!

There is an old saying in sports and life that “The great ones make it look easy” and when it comes to hockey skills this is definitely true. However, as we have talked about in past articles, the great ones only become great after spending hundreds or even thousands of hours honing their craft. 

We encourage you to become great! Start by identifying an area of your game that needs improvement and dedicating yourself to working on it until it becomes natural. Find a great deke or dangle on the internet and work on it until you become great!

Thank you for reading. We invite you to train with us this summer at one of our hockey camps! For dates, locations and to register, click here.

25

January

Why Great Teams Win

Posted by Greg Carter

Do you ever wonder why the same teams always find themselves in the playoffs, championship game and even winning the title?

In past articles we’ve talked about Winning Being A Habit and that To Be The Best, You Need To Set Goals Like The Best. When it comes to winning, it’s pretty obvious that the best teams have good players. These players are doing all the little things that add up to the big things! But why is it that certain teams and programs always seem to produce winners?

It starts with skill, talent, work ethic and all of the ingredients that you would expect in a successful recipe. However, there is something that we’ve noticed in recent years, especially at the youth levels, that great teams share.

Selflessness. (Related Articles: “Are You A Me or We Player” & “That You Do Is More Important Than Who”)

As we watch teams, from the good to great, we are always intrigued by the top players. We watch their skill sets, their style and how they interact with their teammates. From an individual standpoint, this is important because much of the time as the top players go, so goes the team.

More specifically, if the team relies on the top player for everything, other teams can usually contain the threat. But if that top player (or players) relies on themselves for everything, and tries to do everything either out of selfishness or not trusting that teammates can get the job done, well this is separation between good teams and championship teams.

What we mean is this: How bad does a top player, or any player for that matter, want to score themselves vs. making sure that the team wins.

We’ve seen players in game changing moments shoot from bad angles for example, rather than sliding the puck to a teammate for an easy tap in goal. We’ve seen players that want the notoriety of scoring in the big game or scoring a big goal seemingly more than an assist on a teammates goal. These things don’t happen on championship teams.

The teams that are playing for the championship are the teams that operate like teams! The players, all the players, want the team win more than the individual stats. Championship teams make good hockey decisions, they make good hockey plays, they are unselfish and we is always more important than me.

As you head towards the playoffs we wish you the best of luck at your Mass Hockey USA Hockey or local tournament! We hope that your team comes together and plays like a team and when that final buzzer sounds, you are celebrating a well-deserved championship!

Thanks for reading and as you set goals for next season, please accept our invitation to join us at any of our hockey schools this summer!

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