“Faceoffs. It’s the game inside the game.”
🏒The Art of Hockey🥅
Pro Tips with Matt Ford. Calder Cup Champion and Captain of the AHL’s Grand Rapid Griffins
Taking and winning face offs is an art form, a very valuable one to a team. There are between 50-70 face offs a game, each one having the ability to drain an opponents energy, lead to a scoring chance, or sway momentum. Winning possession is very difficult and starting with the puck is a huge advantage which leads to much greater time of possession. And it’s not only the centers job to win face offs. Today we look at Matt Ford’s pro tips and a few strategies he uses to winning face offs.
Most important thing is timing. My decision before each draw is can I clean win it from this person? Am I quicker and stronger?... good centers find a way to at least have a 50 percent chance of winning each draw.
If you want a clean win. Cheat. “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying”. That means trying to pick up on the timing of different refs/ lines-mans dropping the puck. It’s not easy, but figuring this out gives you the advantage of having your blade there at the same time as the puck. It also means, get your body as close to the circle and leaning over the circle without getting kicked out. This gives you better leverage and strength.
The Slash. Aiming your blade just above your opponents blade, to keep him from getting in the circle. Done properly this leaves your stick on his/ hers side of the circle with the ability for you to snap it back to your teammates.
The Hook and Kick. I often use this when the other player have the advantage pulling it back on their backhand, and I don’t. Here, just as it sounds hook and lock where your sticks meet the blade and pull him towards you. Usually bring both of you to the middle of the circle. You can then try to kick it back to your defenseman but you should also give your wingers a heads up, that they should come in and help you retrieve the puck from he faceoff dot.
Remember when you take the face off, you should know what your coach expects from your teammates on the ice, for both faceoff wins and losses. Your job to make sure everyone is on the same page and knows the gameplan immediately after each draw.