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5 Reasons to Try Hockey For Free

By USA Hockey, 10/28/15, 3:30PM MDT

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Participate in this year's November 7th event at one of the hundreds of locations

In the five seasons since USA Hockey introduced its Try Hockey For Free Days, presented by Kraft Heinz, more than 90,000 participants have taken their first strides into the game, setting the foundation for a lifelong love of hockey.

The next chance to #TryHockey comes Nov. 7, 2015, as part of Come Play Hockey Month. Nearly 500 sites throughout the United States will host a Try Hockey For Free event. Neither experience nor equipment is necessary, as gear will be available to borrow at the rink.

There’s no easier way to discover youth hockey.

Reason 1: It’s fun.

Try Hockey For Free events are filled with engaging stations that teach new skills in a fun environment. Participants enjoy camaraderie and teamwork with new friends, most playing hockey for the very first time. It’s a festive, unique and inviting way to experience the game and feel the thrill of skating, shooting and scoring.

“Seeing all the smiles when kids play for the first time – that’s always a highlight and it’s part of why we host Try Hockey each year,” said Stephanie Dukesherer, communications director for the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association. “Our program, coaches and volunteers take pride in making sure kids have fun on the ice, whether it’s their first time or hundredth time.”

Reason 2: Certified coaches are there to help.

USA Hockey-certified coaches guide players during Try Hockey For Free Days, providing support and encouragement along the way.

Reason 3: It’s great exercise.

Hockey develops skills, endurance, balance and strength. The game is constant motion and constant action, with everyone contributing regardless of size or skill.

Reason 4: It’s free.

At Try Hockey For Free events, the ice time, instruction and equipment are all free-of-charge. It’s a great way to try the game.

Reason 5: Girls play hockey.

One out of every five Try Hockey participants is a girl and there are nearly 70,000 girls and women playing hockey in the U.S. today. Try Hockey For Free Days are great for introducing all kids to the game.

Bonus Reason: Adults can #TryHockey, too.

Mom and Dad: There’s an opportunity for you to play hockey, too. Some states are hosting adult Try Hockey events. Click here to learn more. Try hockey and find out why it’s one of the fastest-growing adult sports in America.

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Former NHLer’s Tips to Creating Turnovers

By Steve Mann 03/27/2022, 1:45pm MDT

Four Keys to Creating Turnovers

In any game, from 12U to pros to adult hockey, a single turnover can change the complexity of the competition, especially in crunch time. Make a poor pass at neutral ice, lose focus on a line change, get outworked on the forecheck or backcheck, and quite often the end result will be the puck in the back of your own net.

Simply put, a key for any team that wants to be successful is to be on the “right” side of the puck possession battle – to avoid losing the puck and excel at stealing it. It only makes sense that if you possess the puck more than your opponent, your chances of winning will increase. According to former NHLer Lance Pitlick, creating turnovers and regaining puck possession is a skill and one that can be learned, regardless of your age or stage of your hockey-playing career. 

“If you don’t have the puck, you can’t score,” said Pitlick, who played 12 seasons in professional hockey, including time with the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers. “A point I try to drive home to players is that we want to get out of the defensive zone as quickly as possible because those are hard minutes. Let’s get into the offensive zone, where the minutes are easier. Once you create those turnovers and spend more time with the puck on offense, it’s a better return on your (physical) investment.”

Pitlick is currently an off-ice stickhandling, shooting and puck possession guru, who has worked with over 1,000 players of all ages and skill sets, through two websites – onlinehockeytraining.com and sweethockeycoach.com. His web-based programs provide a step-by-step teaching model, with a library of video drills organized into instructional modules that can be accessed on any digital device.

Pitlick offers the following tips for adult players to get better at creating turnovers and regaining the puck as quickly as possible:

Take away time and space – For a less experienced player, an easy first approach is to try to take away time and space on the ice. Work on trying to get to the player with the puck as quickly as you can, forcing them to make decisions a lot sooner than they want to. This may make them bobble the puck and hopefully create a turnover.

Practice the tenacious forecheck – It’s not always the most talented team that comes out on top, it’s the team that outworks the other one. The forecheck is where most turnovers take place, either in the offensive zone or when there’s a rink-wide pass. It’s about gaining quick proximity to the puck and winning battles, especially along the boards. If you get close enough to a player with the puck, try to lift his/her stick with your stick, steal the puck and skate away as fast as possible.

Keep your stick on the ice – You always want your stick blade in what you think is the passing lane, so your opponent has to pass over or around it. If you have good angles and anticipation and keep your stick down, there’s a good chance you’ll disrupt things.

Come back to the house – When your opponents have possession, regardless of what they’re doing on the exterior, you know that eventually they’ll be coming to the net. So, tighten everything there, make sure they have to skate, pass or shoot through bodies to get a good scoring chance. It’s important on defense to “gap up” so it’s tougher to enter the offensive zone and possess the puck.