Excerpt From: Hockey Plays and Strategies
When a player goes back to breakout a puck, his teammates are his number one resource. It is important that his teammates communicate pressure and also make specific calls with regard to the appropriate breakout option to use. Players can make five calls; up, over, wheel, reverse, and rim.
When D2 calls an “up”, D1 knows right away that when he touches the puck his primary option is to turn up the strong side and make a play to the board winger (LW) or center (figure 1.5). D2 has read that the other team is taking away the net or back side, so the best option is to get the puck moving right away up the strong side. C supports low, and RW moves across the ice.
When D1 picks up the puck, D2 sees that the other team has flooded one side of the ice, so he moves to the opposite corner and calls for an “over” play (figure 1.6). D1 makes a direct pass or banks the puck off the boards to D2. D1 should move the puck quickly and not make the mistake of carrying the pressure toward D2 then passing. If that were to happen, the forechecker could easily continue through and get on D2 as he receives the pass. C supports low, RW supports the boards, and LW moves across in in support.
This is where D1 has a step on the forechecker, so D2 calls “wheel” and D1 quickly rounds the net, leaving the forechecker trailing. Use the net as a screen for the forechecker by cutting tight to the net on the wheel. D2 should hold the front of the net until D1 makes a play or skates up ice (figure 1.7). C supports low, LW moves across the ice, while RW provides a boards-pass option.
In this situation, D1 picks up the puck and attempts to lose the forechecker by going around the net. D2 sees that the forechecker is right on his partner, so he calls a reverse (figure 1.8). D1 banks the puck off the boards in behind the forechecker to D2. C supports by first moving with D1 and then back low through the slot once the reverse pass is made. LW moves inside and then out to the boards, ready for an outlet pass. RW initially is ready for the up pass from D1, and then when the reverse pass is made, RW moves across the ice to support the breakout. D2 passes to C or LW.
Sometimes the coaches like the center and the winger to switch on reverse plays, which allows them to maintain speed – teams must make sure the exchange is done quickly so they don’t give up defensive positions at a time when a turnover may occur. As noted in figure 1.9, when D1 swings behind the net, C moves to support. If D1 reverses the puck, C can continue moving toward the boards, and RW can move to mid-ice to support the reverse pass to D2.
The final option for reverse plays is for D1 to reverse the puck to C in the strong-side corner. This allows the breakout team to spread out and makes it difficult for the forechecker to take away all options. D2 supports the wide side, looking for an over pass, and D1 reverses the puck to C, who should call this option.
This option (figure 1.10) is often used when the opposition is forechecking hard and the best choice is to bypass the forecheck by passing the puck hard around the boards. D1 goes back for the puck and quickly rims the puck to TW. C supports from underneath, and LW moves across in support. Against teams who pinch down with their defense on rimmed pucks, the wingers who receive the rim must be able to protect the puck, control it, and then move it to support. In this situation, TW must be able to control the puck and make a play, skate with the puck, or chip it behind the pinching defenseman. As mentioned earlier, the ability to get pucks off the boards under pressure is a skill that also involves a component of toughness – especially if the other team’s defensemen pinch down quickly to finish the hit.
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