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Power Skating / Edgework Circuit [Video]

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills,Instructional Video
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After a couple of crazy weeks, we’re back with new video from M2 Hockey & HockeyShare! This week we wanted to do something a little bit different than normal.  This week’s video is a skating circuit that’s meant to be gone through in succession without rest.  As players become better skaters and get more comfortable with the drills, the tempo can be increased, and modifications can be made to the circuit.  These fundamental edgework drills are the foundation for almost every skating maneuver in hockey – so you can never get enough practice on them.  For those who don’t think power skating is important, here’s a sobering fact: NHL teams do power skating!!!  The more efficient you become on your skates, the better overall hockey player you will become.  Hope you enjoy the video!


2-1-2 Forecheck

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Systems
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Forechecking efficiently is a must for any successful team today.  Without an organized structure for attacking and regaining control of the puck, the team is vulnerable to quick breakouts, and will assuredly not be in proper position to play defense when the other team begins heading up ice.

Before getting into the specifics of the 2-1-2 forecheck system, it is important to understand what type of play a forecheck is exactly.  Many coaches believe the act of forechecking is an offensive tactic.  I don’t believe this is an accurate description.  While the forechecking described here outlines the pressure in the offensive zone, the key lies in the possession of the puck.  I believe there are only three distinct scenarios regarding possession: 1) offense, 2) defense, 3) transition.  In order for a player to be on “offense”, his/her team MUST have control of the puck.  If the team does not have control of the puck, they are either in the transition phase or defense stage.  The transition stage occurs during turn-overs while players shift from defense mode to offense mode (or vice-versa).  A good rule of thumb is: if you don’t have possession of the puck, you’re playing defense.

An offensive zone forechecking system is a defensive tactic to regain control of the puck.  A well executed forechecking system will allow players to make quick transitions from defense to offense to create scoring opportunities.  Most often an offensive zone forecheck will occur when the puck is dumped in.  With that understanding of how to approach the pressure, let’s take a look at the 2-1-2.

The 2-1-2 is an aggressive-style forechecking system designed to place pressure on the puck carrier.  Its name comes from the pressure-style being used where the first two players aggressively pursue the puck, one player stays slightly higher for middle support, and the defense hold their regular positions on the blue line.  Here is a diagram of a basic 2-1-2 setup:

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In this basic scenario, players 1 & 2 (in blue) are the first two to the puck, player 3 remains in the middle high-slot, and the defense (players 4 & 5) play their typical point positions.  Below is an outline of the each forechecking player’s responsibility:

Player 1:  The first player on the puck carrier should take the body (age permitting) to create a separation of the puck and the defending player.  This player must have an active stick and actively take away passing lanes while pursuing the puck carrier.

Player 2: The second player should ensure there is no D-to-D pass option for the puck carrier.  Once player 1 has successfully taken the body and separated the defending player from the puck, player 2 should look to pick up the loose puck.

Note: Player 1 can also share responsibility in eliminating the D-to-D outlet pass option depending on where he/she is coming from on the ice.  With a 2-1-2 forecheck, the idea is to force the play to one side of the ice and not allow puck movement to the weak-side.

Player 3: Player 3 plays a read-and-support role, staying in the middle of the ice in the high-slot.  If defensive player 2 is able to make a pass to defensive player 4, player 3 would pressure player 4 to create a turn-over.  If the puck is broken out, player 3 is in good position to backcheck.

Players 4 & 5:  The defensemen should play the point play as normal, reading the play as the defending player controls the puck and attacking players are attempting to force the play to one side of the ice.

The 2-1-2 system is great to run when the opposing team has defensemen who are confident in skating the puck up the ice.  Applying this type of pressure will take away their time and space to handle the puck.  It also works well when opposing teams have slow defenders.  Slow defensemen can be exploited by applying aggressive pressure.  It is critical to have the first two players keep their feet moving through the entire process.  When forecheckers hesitate using a 2-1-2, a good defense pair on the opposing team will use the extra second or two to find an outlet pass – usually D-to-D.  Skate hard all the way through the forecheck.

This article outlines one way to apply pressure, there are countless minor differences between implementations.  Below are some animations to show examples of ways to apply this forecheck and rotations if the other team completes a breakout pass.

Basic 2-1-2 Forecheck w/ Rotation

Basic 2-1-2 Forecheck w/ Rotation

2-1-2 Forecheck - Puck Behind the Net

2-1-2 Forecheck – Puck Behind the Net

2-1-2 Cross-Corner Dump-In w/ Wrap Around

2-1-2 Cross-Corner Dump-In w/ Wrap Around


10,000 Pucks Contest Winners – 2009

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: HockeyShare Contests
With the last of the prizes having been shipped out for the 2009 10,000 Pucks Contest, I thought it would be a good time to showcase some of the winners from last year’s contest.  We’re looking to make the 2010 contest bigger and better.  We’re always welcome to hear new ideas for the program.  If you’ve got suggestions or sponsorship ideas for the 2010 contest, please let me know at kevin@hockeyshare.com



Favorite Players

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
Tags: ,

If you’ve ever heard a coach (in any sport) tell you they don’t have favorite players, there’s a pretty good chance they’re lying to you. I believe every coach has favorite players. Why would a coach have a favorite player(s)?  The answer is easy really.  Coaches are human.  What coach wouldn’t prefer to work with players who:

1) Listen
2) Work Hard
3) Are Respectful
4) Are Well-Behaved
5) Have Good Attitudes

    Any coach would take players like these in a heart-beat. It’s not hard to see why players who don’t meet one or more of the above criteria may cause frustration for the coach.  Is it easier to be around and work with a player who gives 100% every shift, or one that goes out and skates half-speed and takes bad penalties?  Easy answer, right?

    Here is the key in dealing with your players.  All of them – favorite or not – need to be treated equally.  Rules need to be enforced the same amongst all the players from top to bottom.  This isn’t to say your approach with each player should be identical, but guidelines need to be set for behavior, and whether or not your favorite player or least favorite player violate a guideline, the punishment needs to be equal.  If the “punishment” for being late to a team function is to sit the first period of the next game, the rule needs to be enforced with each and every person.

    It’s OK to have favorites – just be aware of how you treat them, and be sure you’re holding them to the same standards you’re holding your “least favorite” player to.  If there is a big inconsistency, you’ve got a sure-fire formula for disaster within your own team.  Players will begin resenting each other, parents will turn on you, and you’ll have a lot less fun coaching.


    NHL and Youth Hockey Rule Differences

    Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
    Tags: , ,

    Hockey is one of the most complex sports to officiate.  Coaches are often times quick to reprimand an official for making the wrong call, but sometimes the rules in professional hockey become confused with the rules governing youth hockey. Here are a few subtle but interesting differences between NHL rules and USA Hockey’s rules:

    Kicking the Puck (in relation to goals) – Many players, coaches, and officials believe the current rule for “kicking” the puck in the net reads that goals shall be allowed as long as there is “no distinct kicking motion.”  Here are the real rules:

    NHL Rule #78.5 – Disallowed Goals – ii:  “When the puck has been kicked using a distinct kicking motion.”

    USA Hockey Rule #614d – Kicking Puck:  “The goal shall not be allowed if the puck has been kicked, thrown or otherwise deliberately directed into the goal by any means other than a stick.”

    Tripping (Clipping) – When a player dives to poke the puck away from an opponent and makes contact with the puck (first), but takes the opponent down, many believe no penalty should be called because the primary play was on the puck. Should it be a penalty or not in youth hockey?

    NHL Rule #57.1 – Tripping: “If, in the opinion of the Referee, a player makes contact with the puck first and subsequently trips the opponent in so doing, no penalty shall be assessed.”

    USA Hockey Rule #639 – Tripping: “…Any player who deliberately leaves his feet and contacts an opponent with any part of his body thereby causing the opponent to trip or fall shall be assessed a minor penalty.”

    Checking from Behind – The NHL, Hockey Canada, and USA Hockey are all working to eliminate checking from behind from the game. There are a couple important distinctions between the NHL and USA Hockey:

    NHL Rule #44.2 – Checking from Behind – Major Penalty: “Any player or goalkeeper who cross-checks, pushes or charges from behind an opponent who is unable to protect or defend himself, shall be assessed a major penalty. This penalty applies anywhere on the playing surface (see 44.5).”

    USA Hockey Rule #607b – Checking from Behind: “A major plus a game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player who body checks or pushes an opponent from behind head first into the side boards, end boards or goal frame.”

    High Sticks – NHL fans are used to seeing officials “check for blood” after a high stick to determine how severe the penalty should be.  Here are the differences between USA Hockey and the NHL:

    NHL Rule #60 – High-sticking: Rule #60.2 dictates minor penalty criteria: “Any contact made by a stick on an opponent above the shoulders is prohibited and a minor penalty shall be imposed.”  Rule #60.3 dictates double-minor penalty criteria: “When a player or goalkeeper carries or holds any part of his stick above the shoulders of the opponent so that injury results, the Referee shall assess a double-minor penalty for all contact that causes an injury, whether accidental or careless, in the opinion of the Referee.”  The next rule (60.4) dictates the criteria for a Match penalty.  There is no verbiage for a major penalty on a high-sticking infraction in the NHL official rules.

    USA Hockey Rule #617 – High Sticks: “A major plus a game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player who injures an opponent by the use of a high stick.”

    Face Off Location – A player comes streaking down the ice and fires a high-hard shot off the crossbar and out of play. Where the ensuing face off is positioned depends on the league:

    NHL Rule #85.1 – Puck Out of Bounds: “…One exception to the above shall be when the puck deflects off the goal frame, including the goal post or crossbar, when caused by either team, either shot directly or deflected off any player or official, the face-off shall always be conducted in that end zone at the nearest face-off spot.”

    USA Hockey Rule #611f – “When an infringement of a rule has been committed or a stoppage of play has been caused by any player of the attacking team in the Attacking Zone the ensuing face-off shall be made in the Neutral Zone on the nearest face-off spot.”

    Don’t be surprised if the officials aren’t aware of these differences.  The game is so complex and the rule book is so long and specific, it’s almost an impossible task to know every rule perfectly.  When you also factor in many high level officials are officiating in several different leagues – each with their own set of particularities – it can be a daunting task to keep everything straight.  Honest officials are trying their best to ensure an unbiased game.  In youth hockey, we’re all out here to learn and improve.  Help officials in a positive, productive manner understand the differences if they are in error.

    References: USA Hockey’s “The Official Rules of Ice Hockey” – Link, “2009-10 Official NHL Rulebook” – Link


    Two Bad Hits – Two Good Learning Opportunities

    Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
    Tags: ,

    The last two Hawks games I got to watch, I’ve had the displeasure of seeing two hits I’d rather not ever see in the game.  The first was Alex Ovechkin hitting Brian Campbell from behind, the second was former Hawk, James Wisniewski with a head-shot to Brent Seabrook.  Both hits unfortunately led to injury.  Both plays were examples of hits the NHL (and USA Hockey & Hockey Canada) wants to see out of the game.  While many can argue over how many games each player deserves for their actions, I think these scenarios provide a great teaching opportunity for youth players.

    Ovechkin on Campbell

    In this particular instance, Ovechkin and Campbell were racing to a loose puck near the goal line. Campbell, the first one there, was in front of Ovechkin in a clearly vulnerable position.  Campbell was: 1) a dangerous distance from the wall 2) not facing Ovechkin 3) never had a chance to defend himself.  Ovechkin proceeded to shove Campbell from behind.  As bad as the injury sustained by Campbell was (collar bone and ribs – I think), it could have been a lot worse.  In that split second, it wouldn’t have been impossible for him to have gone into the wall head first.  Players need to understand the dangerousness of checking from behind – this single moment in lapse of judgement could have led to something far worse than it did.  If the player isn’t facing you, don’t check or push him/her.

    Wisniewski on Seabrook

    This hit has a bit more ill-intent behind it than Ovechkin’s did.  In this case, the check was clearly a retaliation for a border-line hit to the Duck’s Corey Perry earlier in the shift.  Wisniewski’s hit had several different aspects to it:

    1) Interference – Seabrook did not have the puck, nor was he the last one to touch it.  The only intent of the check was to retaliate.
    2) Charging – Wisniewski is a defenseman.  He came in from the tops of the circles with his only intention to make a hit.  When he finally came barreling in, he left his feet.
    3) Head Contact –  The hit was high to begin with, then he followed through with his hands to the face of Seabrook (see freeze-frame below) which drove his head into the wall.

    Head Contact

    All these aspects of the hit make it a dirty one. Coaches must teach players the basics of proper checking technique, but moreover need to emphasize from a young-age that the only reason to check is to separate the player from the puck.

    Hopefully players and coaches alike can use these two negative instances and take positive lessons from them.


    Share Your Hockey Drills

    Posted by Kevin - Filed under: HockeyShare.com Features

    HockeyShare is based on the premise of sharing information between users.  Many coaches have many staple drills in their repetoire, but don’t necessarily have them in a program like DrillDraw to share easily. No problem here – if you’ve got a hand-drawn image, excel file, pdf, it doesn’t matter – you can upload them to HockeyShare.  We’ll take care of converting them and formatting them for the website.  Simply use the drop-box below to add your files.

    Thanks for helping the community grow!


    Scoring on a Butterfly Goalie

    Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Tips
    Tags: ,

    This video is related to the previous titled Shooter Tutor – Evolved.  In this video, Brett covers a specific shot from the slot area on butterfly goaltenders.


    Allowing Post Season Recovery Time

    Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
    Tags: , ,

    Hockey can have one of the longest seasons – many going from August through March (or longer).  Many players/families jump right into spring hockey the minute the regular season is over.  Personally, I don’t believe this is the best choice for most athletes.  After a long physically, mentally, and emotionally draining season, even the most die-hard hockey fanatics need to take some time to recharge their batteries – especially in youth hockey!  Players need time away from the demands of the sport to allow their body to recover in all three areas.

    1) Physical – this one is pretty obvious.  As players get older, the game gets more physically demanding.  Coaches push players harder in practice, opponents & teammates hit harder, the speed increases, and injury rates increase.  Physical ailments that seemed minor, if left untreated, can turn into long-term injuries.  Bodies need the opportunity to recover.

    2) Mental – teams go through lots of ups and downs throughout the course of a season.  These swings provide some of the best life lesson teaching opportunities – but they also can wear players, coaches, and parents down by the end of the year. Give players the opportunity to think about things other than hockey for a while.

    3) Emotional – did your team play in a big game this year? Win or lose, I’m sure emotions on both benches were running high.  All players need some time away from these emotionally demanding moments.  Over-exposure to these scenarios can actually lead to physical ailments.  People who are emotionally and mentally drained are more likely to become sick – it boils down to your body only having a certain amount of energy to cope with situations.  When you’re low on energy, your immune system becomes vulnerable.

    USA Hockey recognizes the number one reason for players dropping out of the sport is because they aren’t having any fun.  If hockey becomes a mundane task, it’s no fun.  Time off from the rink is healthy – it helps keep the game special.  It’s no different than having a sports car in your garage – if you drive it everyday, it just becomes “another car” – but if you save it for your summer weekend cruises, it becomes something special.  Let kids be kids – give them time away from the sport, even if it’s just a few weeks.  Allow them to play other sports and have unstructured time, they’ll enjoy the game that much more when they come back!

    Hopefully I’ve convinced you to take at least a few weeks off after your season wraps up.  I want to be very clear on one thing though – I don’t discourage off-season hockey and/or training!  In fact, I think (smart) training in the off-season can greatly benefit players.  My personal preference for the spring is to provide some sort of non-contact, loosely structure opportunity for players to be on the ice no more than once or twice per week.  Like it or not, as coaches, we have to accept the fact that players will probably learn just as much (if not more) from having unstructured ice time and getting to try things on their own in a pressure-free environment.

    As players get older, the number of training options in the off-season increase.  Older players can start to get into strength and weight training.  This is a great opportunity to improve your overall fitness and strength while still giving your mind & body a break from being on the ice.  Is it hard work? Sure – but it’s different work.

    Finally, I do encourage players to find camps & clinics throughout the summer to help hone specific areas of your game.  Look for camps focusing on areas of weakness. If you want to become a better defenseman, look to find a defenseman camp…if you’re looking to score more goals, look for a shooting or goal scoring camp or clinic.  You get the idea.  There are hundreds of choices for hockey camps – ask around and find one you think will help, and remember…the most expensive camp isn’t necessarily the best!

    If you’re a parent – don’t push your kid to the point where they’re ready to drop out of hockey.  If you’re a player – go relax and be a kid for a couple weeks…let your body heal!  If you’re a coach – allow players the freedom to hang up the skates for a bit, and don’t pressure them into competing year-round.

    Skate hard & keep your head up.  See you around the rinks…and Minnesota lakes this summer!


    February / March 2010 Practice Plans

    Well, now that the season has come to a close, this is the final posting for my full-season of practice plans. I hope you’ve enjoyed the entries and have found some value in them.  If you have questions about any of the practices, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

    02/01/10 – Dryland Practice Plan
    02/01/10 – Practice Plan
    02/09/10 – Practice Plan
    02/11/10 – Practice Plan
    02/16/10 – Dryland Practice Plan
    02/16/10 – Practice Plan
    02/18/10 – Practice Plan
    02/23/10 – Dryland Practice Plan
    02/23/10 – Practice Plan
    02/25/10 – Practice Plan
    02/27/10 – Dryland Practice Plan
    02/27/10 – Puckmasters Practice Plan (Defensemen)
    02/27/10 – Puckmasters Practice Plan (Forwards & Goalies)
    02/28/10 – Puckmasters Practice Plan (All Players)
    03/02/10 – Practice Plan
    03/04/10 – Practice Plan


    Older Posts »


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