When skating, the skates of a hockey player do two things: They glide over the ice and they push off the ice with the edge, in order to gain speed. The physical properties of ice is what allows hockey players to maneuver the way they do. For instance, the low friction of the skate blade with the ice and the physical properties of the ice is what allows a player to speed up, or stop. A hockey player propels himself forward by pushing off the ice with a force perpendicular to the skate blade. Since the friction of the blade with the ice is almost zero, this is the only way he can propel himself forward. The figure below illustrates the physics behind this principle.
Though I do not play hockey I love to watch it my favorite NHL team is the Bruins. Also I love to go and support our High School Hockey Team.