Supporting the puck carrier keeps the numbers in your favour
Posted by Dean Holden at January 6th, 2014
By USA Hockey Magazine, April 2010
Brian Gionta, current captain of the Montreal Canadiens
Being a good teammate can take on many forms, whether it’s in the locker room or on the bench. Perhaps the best way to be a good teammate is to support one another on the ice. This means helping the puck carrier to create numerical advantages (2-on-1) and providing him with options as he skates up the ice or plays along the boards.
If you’re going to support the puck carrier you want to skate toward him and into an open area on the ice and put yourself in a position to receive a direct or indirect pass. By shortening the distance between you and the puck carrier, you’re improving your chances of connecting on the pass.
Keep your eyes on the puck carrier and your stick on the ice to give him a good target to make a pass.
Another tactic of supporting the puck carrier is by helping him create time and space to make a play, whether that’s making a pass, skating around the defender or taking a shot on goal. While creating a physical pick is against the rules, you can still create confusion by crisscrossing with the puck carrier in front of the opposition.
Cycling is support with movement. It’s creating a 2-on-1 advantage in the corner in the offensive zone using direct or indirect (off the boards) passes while moving toward the net to create a good scoring chance.
In the defensive zone, rather than allowing the opposition to create a 2-on-1 advantage or cycle the puck down low, the forward collapses down to help his defensemen. Once the turnover is created, the forward/defenseman is in position to pick up the loose puck and make a breakout pass to teammate who is now supporting the puck.
If you’re not supporting the puck carrier, you’re asking him to make long, dangerous passes or trying to beat an opponent 1-on-1. The key to playing smart team hockey is to create 2-on-1s all over the ice. If you’re not supporting the puck carrier, the numbers are not in your favor.
<As a coach, my key to playing smart for any team invasion sport is to spend more time in practice competing 1 vs 1 and playing keep-away! That is how you develop the offensive principles of Puck Possession, Support, Pressure and Transition! – DH>