You need an arsenal of dekes to create scoring opportunities on the ice. A set of silky smooth hands can help you get around an opponent, create space, handle the puck in tight spaces, deke a goalie and of course, impress your teammates.
First and foremost, what is a deke? It’s all about deception. When you can’t simply skate around a defenseman, a combination of stickhandling moves, changes of direction and speed make it possible to fool a defender and easily go around them.
But dekes can be risky. You’re more likely to lose control of the puck any time you’re skating quickly and stickhandling at high speeds or using complex techniques. And of course, there’s always the chance the defender will see right through your move and stop you in your tracks.
So how can you improve your dangles, embarrass defenders and score more goals? We picked 7 of our favorite dekes that every hockey player should master.
Quick Forehand to Backhand
This is a low-risk and highly effective move designed to force the defenseman to commit to your forehand side before you quickly shift to your backhand and drive around them. You can also do this in reverse by going from your backhand to forehand.
You might actually call this a “triple deke” thanks to the similarity between Charlie Conway’s move in The Mighty Ducks. It’s essentially another stickhandle added to the Quick Forehand to Backhand. The goal is to convince the defenseman that you’re committing to your second direction change and then quickly shift once more to catch them out of position.
Fake Shot to Backhand
Faking a shot will usually freeze the defender, allowing you to get around them with a basic move. All you need to do is shift your backhand, protect the puck and prepare to drive wide. But remember, you need to sell the shot. Get your body into it and make it look like you’re actually going to shoot.
There are several other dekes shown in the video above that would be smart to add to your repertoire.
Changing Shot Angles
This isn’t necessarily a deke but rather a fundamental move every hockey player should learn. It allows you to change the angle of the shot to increase your chance of catching the goalie out of position, and it’s an easy way to get a clean shot on net when a defenseman is in front of you.
The Toe Drag is an easy way to embarrass a defender. It’s a smooth transition from forehand to backhand that fools the defender into committing to and attacking your forehand side. Pulling the puck back into the body with the toe of your stick avoids the incoming poke check. But beware—this move does look cool but has its risks. Many hockey players have a habit of executing the move too close to a defenseman and the puck gets poked away.
Backhand Toe Drag
This is an advanced and far riskier variation of the Toe Drag. In fact, it’s probably best reserved for breakaways and shootouts, but some of you with great hands will be able to use the backhand toe drag like the skater in this video.
We’ll leave you with an extremely effective breakaway deke that’s one of Pavel Datsyuk’s trademark moves. It looks complicated but it’s actually quite simple. The key is to convince the goalie you’re shooting to the bottom corner on your forehand side. After faking the shot, you quickly shift laterally toward your backhand side while pulling the puck laterally on your backhand. If you do it correctly, you should have an open net.