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Studying Hockey Systems for Goaltending: Face-offs

Studying Hockey Systems for Goaltending: Face-offs

The faceoff is hockey’s only “set play” that can separate the teams from offensive side to defensive side and try to execute pre-set plays to start the play. The team that takes control of the puck off the faceoff usually has a split second to move the puck and players as they planned in order to create some special plays.
For goalies, especially, defensive zone faceoffs can be very dangerous and require special attention.

Every team is working on some faceoff plays for even number situations, power plays and even six-player attacks. Goalies must be aware of the principles and some common faceoff plays so you can be ready.

Three Zones to Develop Faceoff Plays


Every faceoff play is designed to move the puck towards specific zones on the ice in order to execute the set-plays. From an offensive point of view, moving the puck toward middle or weak-side of the ice (Zone 1 in diagram) is the best way to take clean and effective shots on goal from good angle.

These faceoffs will give a goalie many kinds of trouble because he/she is quickly forced to move laterally then face a hard shot with screen and rebound.

Zone 1

Here, the goalie had to shuffle twice to follow the puck towards the weak-side shooter and got beat by clean shot. He might have better chance to make the save he moved out little more to the top of the crease.

Below, the goalie faced the shooter carrying the puck across the slot and again, got beat with clean high shot. The goalie might be little too deep in the crease to play against the clean shots after the faceoffs.

This is a good example of making a save in similar shot from Zone 1. The goalie kept himself on the top of the crease to follow the pass and successfully made the save behind partial screen.

Zone 2

The strong side point area is the second best option for offensive team. The shots might not be as clean as taken from zone 1 but they would come through heavy traffic followed by rebound shots. Goalie must fight to find the puck through the screen first and control the rebound as much as possible.

Here the goalie got beat with the shot from zone 2 through heavy traffic.

In similar situation, this goalie moved his head to the shooter’s stick side (goalie’s right), successfully found the puck through the screen and made the save.

Below is even tougher, screen shot followed by two rebound. The goalie managed to reposition himself after the first save, found the puck through the screen again, made the second save then slid from butterfly to block the third shot. Excellent body control!

Zone 3

Most faceoff plays are designed to draw the puck behind the centerman towards point area for clean shots. Some faceoff plays intentionally push the puck toward the corner (or directly towards the net) for special plays to confuse the opponents including the goalie.

Some skilled centerman would take a shot right off the faceoff as below. Right handed center man could take direct shot from goalie’s left and vice versa. There might be a chance to get the direct shot if centerman’s bottom hand is NOT reversed.

Another quick play might happen is pushing the puck ahead and pass to backdoor immediately. It will be very difficult to react and slide across if you are not ready because the centerman also has option to shoot directly.

Drawing the puck to strong side point and move it back to corner could open up slot area for shot because defensive players need to pay their attentions to possible point shot first. Here the goalie couldn’t catch up:

Here, the puck went to top of the circle to lure defensive players then moved down to corner. Goalie had to face a partial 2 on 1 from the corner followed with wraparound. He sealed the right post well then successfully moved across the crease for the wraparound.

About The Author

Hiroki Wakabayashi

Hiroki Wakabayashi is a USA level 5 certified hockey coach from Japan. Hiroki has coached goalies and teams in Japan, Canada, USA and five other countries in last twenty years. His work varies from professional teams, national teams (Hong Kong), Junior and NHL drafted goalies to youth hockey level. Heroki is currently working with Arizona Jr. Coyotes.


  1. BeninLondon

    Only the top video is working

  2. Danny

    Only one video work would like to see them hall so I can explain and show some example to my son

  3. Hiroki Wakabayashi

    Videos are all fixed.
    Sorry for the inconvenience!

  4. Magnus Olsson

    One thing we need to understand (video 1) is that a huge part of Hanks success is his goalline play. He plays deep in the net and this is his tactic. Most of the time it works but this was a time that it didn´t. No tech is bulletproof. We need to see the big picture.

    • Hiroki Wakabayashi

      I totally agree that Lundquit is succesful because of his goalline play. And this is a clean rocket shot towards the top corner that would have been tough to stop even if he was out a bit. I don’t mean to criticize particuler goalie’s style here at all.