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The Successful Saucer Pass: How to Master It

Image by John Torcasio from Pixabay

Whether you’re a competitive or recreational hockey player, the saucer pass is an essential skill in today’s fast-paced game

Hockey at every level is getting more focused on skill. And for those of us old timers, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the saucer pass is now being used constantly. As such, you might find yourself wondering: when is the best time to use a saucer pass, and how do you perfect it?

In this article, we’re going to lay out the keys to a successful saucer pass. We’ll look at the in-game scenarios that you should use them in and how to practice them, both on or off the ice. Mastering the saucer pass is no easy feat. Depending on your talent level, the best thing you can do to step up your game is practice it. Skills-progression training is an important part of any hockey player’s development; it should be a complete part of your off-season hockey training program.

The number one consideration when making a successful saucer pass is to envision where the puck will land on the ice. This is so your target still has a chance to receive the pass, or redirect it for a shot on goal. 

When to Use a Saucer Pass


You definitely do not want to get in the habit of using a saucer pass every time. That’s because the on-ice pass is still a lot more accurate and has less risk if you have a clear lane. A saucer pass is best used when in heavy traffic close around the offensive net, or when making a cross-ice pass with multiple defenders in the lane. 

A saucer pass down around the crease is usually a finesse play, as you are not trying to pass it a long distance. For instance, a cross-crease saucer pass will only travel 4 to 6 feet; but if you can keep the puck elevated it is very hard to intercept and defend. This can create additional scoring chances that you would not be able to achieve just by passing the puck along the ice. 

The 2-on-1 offensive rush is another situation where you often see a saucer pass being utilized. This is to get the puck over the defender’s stick to your teammate on the weak side. If possible, create an open passing lane with a head or shoulder fake; this is highly recommended. Your teammate will be able to handle the pass cleaner and get a shot off quicker. A saucer pass is a last resort on a 2-on-1 rush when your shooting angle is not ideal, and you do not have a clear passing lane. 

The stretch (or cross-ice) pass is mostly used by the defense breaking out of their zone to hit the forward streaking up ice. A saucer pass is a great option in this situation; there will typically be multiple defenders in the middle of the ice taking away the clear passing lane. In this situation, elevating the pass makes it hard for an opposing player to knock the puck down and gain control to transition into your end. (If they do end up intercepting it, it is typically a lot harder to handle and the other team will not be able to turn it around into a quality scoring chance on your net.)

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How to Practice the Pass

Whether you’re a competitive or recreational hockey player, learning how to make a successful saucer pass is pretty much an essential skill for today’s fast-paced, highly skilled game. Since you can practice this skill on or off the ice, there is no real excuse for any player not to have a decent saucer pass!

If you’re practicing off ice, you’ll either want to do it on a smooth surface or invest in a shooting pad so you don’t ruin your top of the line hockey stick. If you do not want to purchase a “sauce kit,” we recommend just using a bucket laying on its side with its open end facing you. The goal of this exercise is just to sauce the puck in the air and into the bucket. 

Starting out, place the bucket close to you—about 4 or 5 feet away—so you can nail down the motion and depth of the pass. You’ll want to focus on rolling the puck from the heel to the toe of the stick, letting the curve do the work to elevate the puck. Work on following through low to the ice, and point the toe of your stick at the target. 

After you get the hang of that distance, start moving the bucket further and further away, and off center. This will build up your skills and confidence in using this type of pass, in any game situation. Consistent off-ice practice will make the difference. 

When you are on the ice, the biggest difference is that you want to practice moving at high speeds while keeping your head up ice. The fundamental skills can be perfected with off-ice training; but to transition to game situations you will need to get a few reps in on the ice.

The defense should practice this while skating up the boards in your own end, to hit a player moving in stride on the opposite side of the rink. Forwards will want to practice more finesse-style saucer passes down in the offensive corners and around the offensive net. 

Wrapping Up the Keys to a Successful Saucer Pass

The most important thing to remember about the saucer pass is to only use it when the situation requires it. You do not want to be out there throwing saucer passes around the entire game; that’s a sure-fire way to get your teammates upset at all the missed opportunities and extra icing calls.

The saucer pass is a high-risk, high-reward play when executed correctly. It can be the difference between a clean breakout or scoring a goal.

Source: Published with permission.


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