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11-22-2007, 01:18 PM
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To keep your head up is pretty important.
Not just to avoid bodychecks but to always know where the other players are on the ice so you can make smart plays.

The biggest mistake a lot of players make when they start playing contact is doing too much East-West skating. If you are going North-South it is much harder to hit you with a seriously punishing bodycheck. If you are deking and feinting east-west, you put yourself in a vulnerable position to be blindsided. If you move the puck quickly with your head up, you will create a lot of 2-1 and give an goes.

When you are skating to the boards to pick up a loose puck ALWAYS take a quick look around to see where your opponents & teamates are. This way you will know where to pass the puck to and how long you have before you will be checked.
You don't have to keep your eye on the puck 100% of the time - if it's a loose puck it will still be there if you take a quick look around.

I ususally sneak several quick looks to the left and right to make sure it is safe to go get the puck. If an opponent is arriving fast, you can either try to avoid the hit or take the hit to make the play (a pass or clearing attempt).

The third option is don't go right to the puck - don;t put yourself in a vulnerable position. Stay near the puck & engage him as he gets close, try to lift his stick, turn it onto a puck battle along the boards. If he bodychecks you & you haven't touched the puck, he gets a penalty.

But be careful not to be too far from the boards. There is a danger zone when you are too far away (like 3-6 feet away) you can go head first or neck first into the boards. If you are going to be hit, much better to be close to the boards or in totally open ice.

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