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Forwards playing offense

By Enio Sacilotto on August 22, 2015

Your goalie is your last line of defense, your defencemen must get the puck up to your forwards, but it is the forwards that have to score goals and create offense for their teams. In this article, we will look at tips for the forwards when they are playing offense.

The number one requirement for all players is to put out a consistent all-out effort every time you step on the ice. Whether you are on the ice for practise or competing in a big game, there is no substitute for hard work!

The objective is when your team does not have the puck, you defend and get it back, once you have it, you must go on the attack as quickly as possible this is called the transition game.

Whether the puck changes possession from, offence to defence, or defence to offence, you must be prepared to think quick, read and make the right decision and make the transition as quick as possible. Can’t emphasize enough that the quicker your team transitions, the better team you are going to have.

Let’s look at some situations a forward needs to recognize and execute:

1. DEFENSIVE ZONE COVERAGE TO BREAKOUT. When you are defending the defensive zone and your team gains possession of the puck, you must get to break out position as quickly as possible. Depending on your coach’s system, the strong side winger usually goes to the wall (around the hash mark), weak side winger slashes across, supporting the winger on the wall and the centre man, if he does not have the puck, supports the winger. This is an example for transition from defense to offense. (see DIAGRAM 1).

2) NEUTRAL ZONE – If you gain possession in the Neutral Zone and you have no play or you are on an odd man offensive rush, such as a 1 on 2, 2 on 3 or a 3 on 4. You must then put the puck deep to avoid any neutral zone turnovers. When you are putting the puck deep you must place it so you can get it back. In other words dump the puck with a purpose! If you are playing against a goalie that is a good passer, make sure you keep the puck away from him! If you are playing in a rink with LIVE BOARDS then bank the puck off the boards so the puck comes in front and you or your teammate can skate into it and regain possession. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE!

3) OFFENSIVE ZONE: In the offensive zone always make sure you have a high forward (F3), this forward is in perfect position to go to the net and get a pass for a scoring chance or if your team should lose possession the high forward (F3) is in perfect position to track back on defense. If your teammate is the high forward position and moves low for a pass, then you must read off your other forward and one of you must rotate high. It is difficult for the defensive team to cover the high forward (F3)!

In the offensive zone when you have the puck and do not have a play and cannot put the puck on net, then use the “quiet areas” and place the puck there. The defensive team is focused on covering the “house” or the “red zone”, in other words they are covering the front of the net, the sides of the net and behind the net, will be free of traffic. If all 5 players know that when there is no play, the puck will be placed in the quiet area, then 1 player will present himself there.

The “quiet area” is also used for cycling the puck and keeping possession. The puck carriers the puck out of the corner to the blueline and attempts to take it to the net. If he does not have any options, he places the puck into the corner “quiet area” where there is a teammate, he then goes to the net looking for a pass. The new puckcarrier then carries the puck up the boards, looks for his open teammates or attempts to take the puck to the net. Cycling helps your team keep the puck and wait for a great scoring chance. When the defensemen has the puck at the point, then get in front to screen the goalie and look for tips and deflections. Goalies are so good these days that it is difficult to score on the first shot. Congestion in front of the net causes screens, rebounds and is the key to scoring goals!


The Idea for forwards when on offense is to control the puck keep possession and score goals. Here are 12 basic rules for you forwards to keep in mind when on offense:

1) COMMUNICATION – “Be the eyes for your teammate”. You should be talking on the ice all the time! Be loud and be clear, let each other know what is going on, on the ice! Talking will also give you a better understanding of the game.

2) BE AVAILABLE TO RECEIVE THE PUCK, OR BE IN POSITION TO SUPPORT THE PUCK. No matter what zone you are in, if you do not have the puck then get yourself open again and again! Move your feet, keep skating, KEEP YOUR STICK ON THE ICE and COMMUNICATE!

3) PLAY 2 ON 1 HOCKEY. Hockey should not be a 1 on 1 game, play 2 on 1 as much as possible. This rule applies to all 3 zones. Use the give and go play, get yourself in an area to support the puck, two players will always beat 1 player! Don’t be a puck hog and play by yourself!

4) HEAD MAN THE PUCK – If your teammate is open and he is ahead of you, pass him the puck! The puck will always travel faster than you can skate it. Moving the puck quick to the open man creates a quick transition and gives you a chance to get the puck to the net and score! 

5) PROTECT THE PUCK – Create a wall (with your body) between you, the puck and the checker. Learning to protect puck along the boards and in open ice will give you a chance to keep puck possession and give you a chance to win the 1 on 1 battle or will allow you time to have your teammate come in and create a 2 on 1 situation. Have a puck protection and “win mind set” when competing for loose a puck and make sure you STOP on all loose pucks!

6) DO NOT STALL YOUR ATTACK – Never go offside when you are on the attack and have an odd man rush such as a 2 on 1, 3 on 1 or a 3 on 2! When you go off side, the whistle will be blown, play will be dead and you just stalled your attack!

7) WHEN ATTACKING THE OFFENSIVE ZONE – GO WIDE! When carrying the puck into the offensive zone take the puck wide, keep your feet moving and USE YOUR SPEED. This will force the defensive defensemen to come to you, thus opening up the middle of the ice. If you are driving hard with the puck and the defender does not come to you, then you can protect the puck and take it to the net!

8) GO TO THE NET - We cannot emphasize this enough. Go to the net hard, look for tips, passes, deflections and rebounds. When going to the net, besides being a scoring threat, one of the defenders will have to go to the net with you, this will open up time and space for your teammates!

9) SHOOT WHEN IN THE GREEN ZONE – unless there is a teammate in an obvious better position / do not hold on to the puck. GET A LOOK at the net and the goalie. If the goalie has the net covered, then put puck on net. Most goalies today are butterfly goalies, so they will go down in the butterfly position so shoot for the low pad and play the rebound because we guarantee, there will be a rebound!

10) NO NEED TO TAKE SLAP SHOTS IN THE OFFENSIVE ZONE - Wrist and snaps shots are best! You will get a quicker release off your shot and you will be a surprise to the goalie. After your shot get into the habit of going to the net, following or tracking your shot. Make sure you STOP, WITH STICK ON ICE AND STAY ABOVE THE CREASE!

11) BE A BAD GOALIE – When in the offensive zone with the puck always have a man in front of the net. We call this having a net presence. Make sure you get right in front of him (the goalie), you must make sure he cannot see the puck! Then when the shot comes from your opponent, let the puck go by you! You are now being a bad goalie and giving your team a chance to score. Once the puck goes by be alert for any rebounds!

12) USE YOUR DEFENSEMEN – If you do not have a shot at the net from down low, then look for F3 or your defensemen if they are open. Then be ready to create a 2 on 1 (get the puck back) or go to the net hard as the defensemen or F3 will shoot the puck on net.

There is lots of information here, take the time to study the contents and next time you are watching a game on TV, watch the forwards very carefully and you will see many of the points outlined in this article. Also, very important, remember to have FUN and enjoy playing the greatest and fastest sport on earth! Happy scoring!!!


Enio Sacilotto is the Assistant Coach of the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League. He is also President of International Hockey Camps who operate specialized hockey camps for Forwards, Defensemen, Battle & Compete, Dynamic Skating & Puck skills, Bantam & Midget Elite Prep Camps and Junior Prep Camps. You can visit his website for free coaching resources and information about the camps; If you have any questions about this article and would like to contribute some ideas, you can call him at 604 255 – 4747 or email at

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By Enio Sacilotto| August 22, 2015
Categories:  Performance

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