Want to score more goals?
It’s all about vision, says Brett Berger, head coach of the Adrian College women’s American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 1 squad and a three-time Team USA assistant coacsh at the Winter World University Games.
“You get to the point where all the goalies are solid, so it’s about puck movement and making goalies think and move,” Berger said. “If we can use our on-ice vision and create with puck movement, then we are successful. Goalies are too good now just to face a shot from an angle they have time to set up for.”
Success, he says, comes more often from simply being ready: stick on the ice, presenting your forehand, being open to the puck and prepared to shoot, and finding areas on the ice where you are open.
“There are the situations we speak about when we talk to our team about creating scoring chances,” Berger said. “Odd-man rushes and rebounds are scoring opportunities that good teams need to bury. These situations make goalies react quickly, and sometimes even make them have to guess where a shot might come from.”
No matter the level of competition, putting in the work will create scoring opportunities for you and your teammates.
“There is no magic drill that works for scoring – anything that involves game-like situations to improve shooting and work on looking where we are shooting are key drills to help with scoring,” Berger said. “We do a ton of skill development, and play a lot of small-area games to improve reaction time and increase our ability to see and create scoring opportunities.”
Put in some time away from the rink, too.
“With limited ice time in mind, players can still work on their shots at home,” Berger said. “Find a flat, smooth surface and shoot pucks at targets. The ability to be accurate is essential to scoring goals. Beyond that, do not underestimate the power of watching high-end hockey and the way they create goals.”
Practice with intent
When you’re physically developing your skills, give it your all as far as effort goes.
“You should always practice like you are in a game,” Berger said. “During skill time, I have seen our players stand flat-footed in the slot area and shoot pucks.
“I would ask my teams, ‘How often are you standing flat-footed with time to bring the puck back and shoot?’ The answer is never,” he continued. “Work on shooting while skating with the puck. Move around the zone and get passes for one-timers while you are in motion. These are the opportunities which are more likely to happen in a game, and will benefit you more in practice.”
So, to summarize, scoring is really more about creating scoring opportunities than scoring goals; more about being in position versus winding up for the bar-down clapper.
“If you learn to create the opportunities, the goals will come,“ Berger said. “But if you do not make the defensemen and the goalies move, react, and make choices, then you will never create enough scoring chances to be successful.”