Adult hockey players come from all different backgrounds, have all different ability levels and often have much different objectives when it comes to what they hope to get out of the on-ice experience.
But it’s safe to say that all of them – except the goalies, of course – share this in common: they want to score goals.
As such, we asked players of different skill levels for their secrets. While none of them had a magic formula or secret shot that always works – if they did, they’d probably be playing at the highest level right now – each offered a unique perspective on what works and what doesn’t.
Sean Cromarty, a former NCAA Division I player at Colorado College and currently the owner of Competitive Advantage Training, offers several useful tips for scorers seeking an edge.
Location on the ice, Cromarty says, will determine where a shooter wants to aim at his or her target.
“Above the top of the circles, shoot for the bottom half of the net,” he says. “Below the top of the circle, shoot for the top part.”
The reasoning, Cromarty says, is that from a greater distance the object should be to create a rebound and a better opportunity for the initial shooter or a teammate to score on that second chance. But from close range, goalies tend to flop down into a butterfly and will be more prone to shots in the top part of the net.
Getting goalies out of their rhythm, Cromarty says, is another key to scoring. The less comfortable they are, the less they’ll know what your next move is going to be.
“Present deception in your shot,” he says. “Leg kicks, fake shots and head fakes get goalies out of their comfort zone and put the shooter at an advantage.”
Andy Cole, who manages the Greater Seattle Hockey League, notes that often in an adult league game, scoring a goal is a simple matter of shooting “where the goalie ain’t.” That said, you’d better be sure you have a legitimate chance to score before pulling the trigger.
“I hate when guys miss from extreme angles,” Cole says, “and it goes out of the zone and gives the other team a breakaway.”
Cromarty, too, urges shooters to make sure their shots are on target. It seems like a simple thing, but sometimes players try to get too cute when basic will do just fine.
“One hundred percent of the shots that miss the net have no chance of scoring,” he says. “Goalies are nervous and make mistakes constantly. … Too often players force pucks top corner instead of taking what's given.”
Don Giroux, who runs the Hockey Finder League in Minnesota, echoes that sentiment. When it comes to scoring goals, he says, “I would say it's no different from any other level – and maybe more so at the adult level. Just get them on net and good things happen.
The Name of the Game
Reed Patton, who owns the Twin Ponds ice skating complex in Pennsylvania and plays in an adult league there that has more than 600 players, offers perhaps the most humorous response to the question of how to score more goals.
Patton, 59, says that for “older guys like myself,” the best advice is a fling and a prayer.
“Close your eyes and shoot toward the net since it never goes where you want it to go anyways. In the best case it bounces off of a few people and finds its way to the back of the net,” he says. “But always insist that that was just where you shot it.”
It’s clear that Patton is among the many adult hockey players who would like to score the occasional goal but is just as content to have a good time. For some, that’s the best advice. After all, Giroux says, the object of hockey is scoring goals, but the object of adult recreational hockey can be a little different.
“The object of the game in adult hockey is getting out of the house and making sure there's cold beverages for after the game,” he says.