By Michael Moore

So it is my Hockey Mom’s birthday, today. This week, we are taking her up to Chicago to celebrate her, with the rest of my family. Needless to say, this excursion has shortened my week (and I haven’t had a spare moment). So let’s get right to it!

I don’t need to tell you how important making an impression is. With Main Camps going on and Training Camp around the corner, making a solid impression has likely been on everyone’s mind. Coach Littler sent me this piece on NHLer Adam Fox’s impression.

In addition, Greg Revak’s piece can help you make a solid impression by increasing time and space in your game. 


Ethan Sears, 08/06/2022, New York Post

TAMPA, Fla. — Playing a team in the postseason tends to give Jon Cooper more of an appreciation for his opposition. Not just because it’s on a bigger stage, but because over a seven-game series, the Tampa Bay coach gets a chance to see players in a way he can’t over the regular season.

Enter Adam Fox.

“It’s like he’s got ice in his veins,” Cooper said of the Rangers defenseman Saturday. “It’s actually pretty impressive to watch. You get to look at some of these players up close, you haven’t really been able to watch. And he — I don’t think anything — the skating doesn’t stand out, the shot doesn’t stand out. It’s not like he’s elite in any of these areas, but he’s an elite player.

“And his vision is exceptional. And so you can’t take anything for granted with him because he sees everything so well. The game slows down for him. I’m really impressed with him. He’s a heck of a player.”

Fox had at least one assist in each of the first three games of the conference final against Cooper’s Lightning, putting on a show with the puck at his stick in Game 2, when he played keep-away for much of the 25:12 he was on the ice and assisted on two of the Rangers’ goals.

“I think he can beat you in a lot of ways,” Lightning center Anthony Cirelli said. “Obviously you see he’s a great passer, makes good reads on the ice and can make plays all over. He’s pretty fast as well. Obviously we gotta be aware when he’s out there.”

It’s no secret that last year’s Norris Trophy winner is an elite player, of course. But in his first non-bubble playoff run, Fox has held his own. In a conference final that pits him against Victor Hedman, he had outscored the 2020 Conn Smythe winner headed into Tuesday’s Game 4.

“He’s obviously one of the top D in the league, right?” Tampa Bay forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. “So when you play one of those guys, they have talent, they have creativity that makes it tough. But at the end of the day, we just have to make it hard on him, too.”

If the Rangers can finish off the Lightning, a bigger test looms in this year’s Norris front-runner, Cale Makar, who had five points for the Avalanche in their Western Conference Final-clinching Game 4 against the Oilers on Monday.

For now, though, Fox is proving himself against the Rangers’ current opponent just fine.

“He kinda is at the forefront of a lot of the good things that are happening for them,” Cooper said. “You’re doing it at the biggest stage. It’s pretty impressive.”


Overcoming mental barriers to find space and create advantageous conditions

Greg Revak, June,5th

In the modern game, it’s difficult to find space. Finding ways to create that space and turn them into advantageous situations is crucial.

Once the puck is in the offensive zone, the blue line basically becomes irrelevant for the players off of the puck.

Yet, for most players, the blue line often acts as a barrier that players mentally stay within. This is a hard mental barrier that players have to overcome in order to expand their vision of offensive possibilities.

Problem Creator

Everyone wants players that are good problem solvers.

I want problem creators.

I want players that are able to put defenders in awkward spots and force them to make decisions. Within both of those situations, there are offensive opportunities.

Leaving the Offensive Zone (OZ)

Finding space in awkward spots puts defenders in places they’d prefer not to be or forces them to ask questions to themselves.

Offensive players leaving their OZ and having the opposition defending in the neutral zone while the puck is in their own defensive zone is definitely an awkward spot for a defender. What would you do?

Leaving the OZ is a similar move that “Maverick” pulled in the original Top Gun movie. Disengage, only to reengage but with advantageous conditions. This preparation for a puck touch is a key offensive concept. Those that do it well tend to manufacture offensive at a high rate.

So, what does this look like in practice?

Example #1 – Austin Matthews #34

Matthews starts by skating/walking up the board with the puck. He passes across and then re-routes out of the OZ.He then skates into the OZ with some momentum into clean ice where he was able to unload a rocket of a shot. His defensive check glances at Matthews skating outside of the OZ, but doesn’t head out of the zone and allows Matthews acres of space. Animated GIF  The reply does a really nice job of spotlighting Matthews’ reroute. He almost touches the dot! Animated GIF 

Example #2 – Mason McTavish #23McTavish is being defended in a man-on-man situation. By leaving the zone, the defender slacks off and starts to puck watch. This allows McTavish to move around freely and find open space. Animated GIF 

Example #3 – Mitchell Marner #16Playing away from the strong side on this power play, Marner leaves the zone to set up favorable conditions for his eventual puck touch.By leaving the zone Marner is able to create an easy passing lane and attack downhill into the offensive funnel with momentum. Notice how the defender cannot get his stick in the passing lane then Marner is easily able to bypass that defender to create a 3v2 lower in the offensive zone. Animated GIF 

Example #4 – Leon Draisaitl #29Here, Draisaitl makes a pass, exits the zone, and re-enters the zone again after building up a speed differential. He attacks and causes a defensive breakdown before laying a pass for an easy backdoor goal. Animated GIF 
Breaking the mental barrier of the blue line is a great way to expand offensive possibilities. Next time you’re at the rink, give it a try.

College Hockey Inc. is accepting applications for the third annual College Hockey Inc. Scholarship, presented by JLG Architects. The grant is awarded in honor of JLG founder Lonnie Laffen, a passionate hockey supporter who passed away in 2020. 

Application link

Players and families, we want to hear from you. If there are any questions, concerns, or if you just want to have a conversation, please feel free to contact us directly. We want to hear from you. Good Luck and Great Hockey!

Thank you,

Team VHC