The saucer pass is a hockey player’s dream, or nightmare, depending on which side of the puck they’re on: It’s quick and difficult for defenders to intercept.
What Is a Saucer Pass in Hockey?
A saucer pass is an ice hockey passing technique in which the puck is launched from one player to another, gliding similar to a disc (flying saucer). Its invention is commonly credited to Finnish ice hockey legend Raimo Helminen; he created the saucer pass as a child when playing against adults from his neighborhood in Koivistonkylä, Tampere, Finland.
The saucer pass gets the puck across the ice to your target while avoiding obstacles (specifically, opposing defenders). A good saucer pass floats about 10 or so inches above the ice and lands close to the blade of the intended teammate’s stick. This technique is especially useful in a two-on-one situation, when getting a standard shot to your teammate past the opposing defender’s stick isn’t easy.
How to Saucer Pass
To be effective, a saucer pass must be swift and accurate. Its timing must also be spot on to avoid not only interference by the opposing team, but an offsides penalty — your teammate is not allowed to arrive in the attacking zone before the puck does.
- Begin with the puck at the heel of the stick’s blade; the blade should be in an open position, like a wedge.
- Use the heel of the stick to aim the pass.
- While applying a bit of pressure on the puck at the heel of the stick, sweep (don’t slap) the puck across the blade to push it slightly upward toward the intended target, when the puck gets to the toe of the stick.
- The puck should land a few feet before the intended player’s stick blade to ensure a smooth delivery.
The height of the pass shouldn’t be more than about a foot above the ice. If it’s too high, it will be difficult (or sometimes impossible) for your teammate to receive and control the puck. A hand pass is illegal when the pass has a direct, intended target, as would be the case in a saucer-type passing situation. So, the puck must be low enough for your teammate to control with their hockey stick without illegally batting at the puck in the air.
Saucer Pass Practice Drills
The saucer pass has become an effective skill for hockey players, and one that requires quite a bit of practice to master. To hone your saucer pass, try these recommended practice drills:
- Form in groups of three and line up across the ice, in the direction of the face-off area. The players on the outside make saucer passes past the player in the middle.
- Incorporate a training aid, such as the attack triangle, allowing you to practice your saucer passes over a system that replicates the position of a defender’s stick.
- Sweep a rubber puck at a bounceable surface or object; it will continually bounce back to you, allowing you to practice cushioning the puck when receiving it.
Mastering the saucer pass skill set provides you not only an advantage over the other team, it also helps you outplay — and outsmart — the opponent.