Sports Reporter & Genius
Photos and Videos of the Team
(Open Invitation to Submit Your Photos and Videos to Rod Hood for Inclusion on our Page)
Squirt B White Wins Three in a Row, Makes Championship Game in year-end Uptown Frozen Funk Tournament (March 8, 2015 - see full NEWS ARTICLE a few pages below)
The boys played a tremendous game in storming back from a 4-1 deficit in the championship game, only to fall short in the scorebox, 4-3; however, they didn't fall short in terms of what this game represented for the season. Their effort, determination and caring for each other in this game provided the ultimate victory for the boys in that they achieved what they had been working toward all season-- the heart and essence of what it means to be a team. To say we are proud just simply doesn't capture it. Thanks, boys, for being such a special group!
Champs! Willmar Hockey Tournament (February 8, 2015)
Squirt B White Following Play in the Championship Game of the Salute to Hockey Tournament, Placing 2nd in a 4-3 OT Finish (December 14, 2014)
Squirt B White Following Play in the Championship Game of the Salute to Hockey Tournament, Placing 2nd in a 4-3 OT Finish (December 14, 2014)
This is Dr. Phineas J. Whoopee reporting for the final time in the 2014-2015 MVI Squirt B White season. Today's topic will not be about Xs and Os or hockey scores, but, instead, about a milestone that was achieved by the MVI SQBW boys. After winning the first three games of the tournament, the boys came up short one goal tally in the score book in the final game (after relentlessly pounding their competition in the third period), but won something much greater along the way. The championship game was the game "the boys grew up in" following a very successful 20 win season including a few scrimmages. The best way to sum it all up is not in this reporter's words, but in the words of MVI SQBW Coach Jeff Dean as he penned them to the parents of the players following the game: "Todays game is a game I will remember for a long time. After the second period, I told the boys we have dug ourselves a hole but to stick together and make the next period their best, and boy did they. Just to see the fight in those boys until the last whistle was something special, and you all should be very proud of your young men. If only we had 1 or 2 more minutes, I think the outcome might have been different. This game is why I love sports, as all the boys grew up and hopefully will remember this one. Throughout the year we won games, and we lost games but rarely were there tears from the boys; but, after todays game, there were a lot of tears from several of the boys. I think Rod (Coach Hood) summed it up when he told the boys to look around the locker room at each other, which they did as several of them had tears in their eyes, and told them, 'Today we became a TEAM'. It's easy to win but tough to lose. The tears show me that these boys really do care, and they gave everything they had but just came up a little short on time. I could not have been more proud of these boys today as they never gave up, even down 3 goals heading into the 3rd period. For some, it was the last Squirt game they will play, and I wish all those boys best of luck next year in PeeWee's. I look forward to seeing these boys all grow as hockey players and young men.... I could have not asked for a better group of kids and parents to share this great year of hockey...."
Congratulations boys on reaching the goal we set at the beginning of the season-- WE ARE A TRULY A TEAM in every meaningful and positive sense of that word.
Squirt B White, remember what you learned during the season, take your growth as a player and a young person and apply it as you go forward and..., finally, remember...YOU'RE THE GREATEST!!!
This is Dr. Phineas J. Whoopee signing off for the final time this season.
This is Dr. Phineas J. Whoopee, Sports Report & Genius, transmitting this report from Willmar, Minnesota.
Well, it was a hot town in the old town, as the usual sports cliche goes, this weekend at the Willmar Hockey Tournament. But, this was no usual weekend. The Moundsview Irondale Warriors (MVI) rolled into town on Friday, February 6, 2015, fired up and ready to go for their first game of the tournament. After the smoke cleared, the Warriors left the arena with an 11-1 victory over Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Sioux Falls team exemplified good sportsmanship, and this reporter was very impressed by how they conducted themselves.
On Saturday, the heat turned up tremendously at the Willmar Civic Center arena complex when home team and tournament organizer, Willmar, hosted the MVI Warriors. Willmar put on a first class tournament, but it seemed clear their graciousness was not going to extend to offering up a victory to their visitors. Willmar was hot after the tournament title. Why wouldn't they be? The MVI Warriors were nearly healthy for this game following an activity-filled evening at the local Country Inn. The only injury that the coaching staff of MVI would disclose, despite this reporter's repeated requests, was what was coined as a "lower body" injury. As a self-professed genius, this reporter was able to discover the nature of the injury, a stubbed and aching "big toe." Rumor has it that the injury occurred Saturday evening while players, training into the evening, tried to evade a hotel manager coming down the hallway. In any event, MVI needed to be healthy as Willmar gave the game everything they had and held MVI scoreless until 1:30 left in regulation, when the team tallied their first goal, despite outshooting Willmar 27-12 for the game. Following two time-outs in the final minute, one by each team, some spectacular last-minute goaltending and a raucous crowd at the tight-spaced annex arena, MVI gutted out a 1-0 victory.
On Sunday, the championship game presented the MVI boys with the opportunity to move from the annex arena into the main rink at Willmar Civic Center, an historic and spectacular place for the championship game. The opponent was from a storied hockey program, South St. Paul. South St. Paul brought its experience from a very tough District 8 (Lakeville, Apple Valley, and Eastview are their regularly scheduled opponents) and stormed through the tournament with spectacular wins, seemingly, to some observers, the team to beat. It was crystal clear that the boys from MVI came to the rink with a job to do. They had a lot of fun during the weekend at the hotel from what this reporter understands. Sure the swimming, knee hockey, MineCraft and other games, and copious amounts of fruit loops were fun, but they all said they came to Willmar, first and foremost, to play hockey. And, play hockey they did! MVI scored first and held a lead for much of the game, but South St. Paul came storming back in an up-and-down the ice, fast and physical game which ended in regulation tied 4-4. The game ended in a 5 shot shoot out in front of a very large crowd that had gathered, comprised of MVI and South St. Paul supporters but, also, many from Willmar and other teams from the tournament that hung around to see the game. Let's face it, this was an exciting finish to the tournament, and made for good hockey watching. MVI shot first. GOALl!!! South St. Paul's first shot-- SAVE!!! The shot was snuffed out by what the Willmar Tournament Director called the "Berlien" Wall (a metaphor for the storied and impenetrable post WWII Berlin Wall). In a moment of true sportsmanship, South St. Paul's coach is incredibly gracious and congratulates an MVI player on his successful shoutout goal despite there being additional shootout attempts remaining in the game. In the end, MVI scores on its first three shootout attempts, while South St. Paul continues to run into the Berlien Wall and scores on none! Final 5-4. The Mounds View Irondale Warriors are crowned tournament champions! Deservedly so, according to this humble reporter.
This is Dr. Phineas J. Whoopee signing off and saying, Mounds View Irondale Warriors, you're the greatest!
While the wind chill was well-below zero outside on this snowy Monday evening of January 5th, 2015, Squirt B White (SBW) rung in their first game of the new year with big heat coming from outstanding goaltending and team defense in a 1-0 shutout of White Bear Lake Grey (WBLG).
Prior to the game, the team had committed to playing team defense and to making only decisions on the ice that were in the best interests of the team. On this night, the commitments made by each SBW player of team defense and "no 'Me, Myself or I' in team" would end up being the difference-makers in the game. This was especially true on a night where SBW sticks appeared to be made of overcooked spaghetti noodles!
The first period showed SBW control the play while outshooting and keeping the puck in WBLG's defensive zone. In the second period, it became very apparent that the commitments made must be commitments kept if we were to succeed. With period 2 being fairly even play in terms of puck control and shots on goal, it was clear that it remained anyone's game to win.
With a 1-0 lead going into the third period, smart play would dictate the outcome. WBLG really wanted the victory as their tempo and play ramped up. SBW relied on good situational thinking and decisions, hot goaltending and team defense as WBLG significantly outshot the team. Part of the shot differential in the last five minutes of the period could be attributed to a solid strategy of dumping the puck deep into WBLG's defensive zone and bringing a strong team defensive approach to protect the lead. However, SBW offensive output went cold like the weather outside (Brrrrrrrrrrr!). WBLG was pressing the play and wasn't going away until it was time to head out to our snow-covered cars.
In the end, hot goaltending, rock solid team defensive play and good decisions on every play (SBW players doing their jobs on EVERY play) prevailed. Commitments delivered!
Squirt B White-- you're the greatest!
The Squirt B White team knew they would need to play their best game and that their skill development for the season would need to be at it's peak as they entered the Championship Game of the Salute to Hockey Tournament.
Prior Lake came out fast and built a 3-1 lead but, then, MVI SBW came storming back from behind with tremendous goaltending and a relentless attack that resulted in tying the game with 31 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, the boys continued their never-ceasing forecheck, resulting in a number of good, quality scoring chances in the extra session before Prior Lake scored the game's final goal, deep into overtime . The game ended 4-3. To say it was exciting, would be an understatement.
The game marked a milestone for Squirt B White in terms of really solidifying themselves as a team. Every player played unselfishly in giving it his all and in making great plays and decisions that were all focused on what would most help the TEAM. The kids took home the 2nd Place Trophy with smiles on their faces and with the knowledge that they left all their energy and effort on the ice, each showing leadership and serving each other in the process.
This is Phineas J. Whoopee signing off and saying, Squirt B White-- you're the greatest!
Squirt B White Trying on the MVI New Uniforms (October 2014)
Squirt B White Team in Action ~ Visiting with North Metro (October 25, 2014)
Visit to Vadnais Sports Center Hosted by White Bear Lake (November 2, 2014)
Photo Gallery (November - December, 2014)
For Players, Parents & Squirt B White Fans
Video of the Week
IIHF World Junior Championship: Some of the Best Hockey You Will Ever See (Be Sure to Watch it!) (December 28, 2014)
Squirt B White Players: Never Give Up / Keep Battling for the Rebound (December 5, 2014)
The POWER of the ASSIST (Is there any better example of great team play? Which is your favorite ASSIST?) (November 23, 2014)
Behind-the-Back Save With the Glove Hand (October 31, 2014)
3rd Period v. Hopkins (November 8, 2014)
Assignment #1: How to shoot a wrist shot (November 2, 2014)
Assignment #2: Stickhandling (November 5, 2014)
Assignment #6: Work hard in practice and off the ice in your basement, backyard, local rink, etc. (December 5, 2014)
University of Minnesota Duluth senior forward Adam Krause is...able to balance hockey, schoolwork, leadership and community involvement, all at a high level. He has also helped the Bulldogs to an 11-5-0 record and a top 10 national ranking.
Assignment #7: Be a Leader in Life...On and Off the Ice (December 12, 2014)
Please read article from Let's Play Hockey (below and at this link: http://www.letsplayhockey.com/teams/college/division-i/2460-adam-krause-a-rare-find.html ). It does a great job of describing, through a college hockey player, what we are talking about when we discuss:
Being a captain or a leader does not focus you on " yourself." It is entirely focused on serving others-- of course, this includes your teammates. Always come to the rink ready to be a leader and to serve your teammates and your parents with good, hard play using all the skills the coaches have taught you.
You are ready.
The Squirt B White Coaching Team
Thursday, 11 December 2014 10:46
By Alyssa Hollenback
There is no doubt that becoming a Division I hockey player takes talent and hard work. Becoming an outstanding college student takes determination and discipline. And becoming a true leader takes a strong upbringing and a commitment to others. You can imagine that finding one person that manages to be all three at once is nothing short of a miracle. Ask anyone that has had the chance to play, study or work alongside the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Adam Krause and they will agree that he is a rare find.
The UMD senior and Hermantown, Minn., native serves as the Bulldogs’ captain for the second straight year – something that has not been done since 2007-08.
“Being chosen as captain as a junior was an absolute shock,” Krause said. “I grew up living and breathing UMD hockey, there was really no other team to me, so having the chance to lead it is a dream come true. The day I was chosen as captain, I called my parents with the great news and they cried. UMD hockey has always been a huge part of all of our lives. It was such an honor to be chosen to lead this team and to know that my teammates were the ones who deemed me worthy of leading meant even more.”
It is likely that Krause himself was the only one shocked by the decision.
“Myself and the other coaching staff were not at all surprised,” UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said. “Adam is a leader in every sense of the word. He is the type of guy that is willing to do whatever it takes, both for himself and others and he has such a strong work ethic. It is the little things that he does that make him a real stand out and it is not surprising that his teammates took notice.”
Now in his second season as captain, Krause has become an even stronger leader.
“There was a steep learning curve that first year, for both myself and my fellow players,” Krause said. “This year, we are all more mature, we hold each other accountable and it is great to see everyone work really hard for one another.”
And Krause’s leadership extends well beyond the confines of the rink, something that shone through earlier this season when he suffered a devastating injury that kept him from playing for six weeks.
“The great thing about serving as captain is that it allows you to lead on and off the ice and this season I have really had an opportunity to do both,” Krause said. “And although my broken wrist kept me from playing, it was a unique opportunity to see how big of an impact this team has to our fellow students and to all of the fans. I got to have an outsider’s look at things and that was pretty remarkable.”
“We are lucky it was just a wrist injury and that Adam was still able to skate and keep his legs in shape,” Sandelin said. “His commitment to training despite an injury is a great example for other players. I think that shows just what kind of guy he is. Of course, we suffered a huge loss not having him with us for the games, but it was also a chance for other guys to step up while he was gone. We were still able to be successful and I think that helped give Adam peace of mind. But we are very grateful to have him back in the lineup.”
Off the ice, Krause takes his role as a leader very seriously, setting a strong example for his peers and fellow teammates. On top of serving as captain, Krause is finance major with a 3.9 GPA. The majority of college students struggle to handle their studies alone, but combine that with leading a Division I hockey team, and you begin to picture how outstanding of an achievement this really is.
In his “spare time” Krause is involved in many community organizations in the Duluth area, including the ALS Association, Boys and Girls Club, March of Dimes, Make-A-Wish Foundation and local Duluth hockey associations, where he visits youth hockey practices and motivates young players.
“I love being involved, both on campus and off,” Krause said. “Any way I can support those in my community, I am happy to do so. The most rewarding thing I am a part of right now is Dash Hockey, where I coach a local sled hockey team for adults. It is amazing to see how determined those guys are and how much they truly enjoy it. As much as they appreciate my time and contribution to the team, I know I get even more out of it than they do.”
Making the time for others seems to be a top priority to Krause, even with such a packed schedule.
“He gives care and attention to the things that are important to him, which makes him a real example for other players that you can manage to do it all,” Sandelin said. “It is amazing, regardless of what he has on his plate, he always makes the time for others.”
So just how does the college senior manage his time? Krause gives kudos to his parents.
“It is difficult, but I was raised to believe that you can always make things work,” he said. “My mom and dad taught me how important it is to find a balance and to stay true to your commitments.”
Undoubtedly, college is a trying time and a period of constant change for any young person, especially a student-athlete. Add to that the changing landscape of college athletics and that can amount to a lot of uncertainty, something many players do not embrace. In his four years at UMD, Krause has played in both the WCHA and the NCHC and has a positive attitude about all of the changes taking place.
“There are lots of changing dynamics in college sports right now, especially college hockey, but that makes it exciting,” Krause said. “Moving over to the NCHC really ramped things up and you could feel a difference, both in the games and the overall atmosphere. I am optimistic about what is to come as things continue to evolve and it has been cool experiencing it firsthand.”
It seems that Krause’s outlook on just about everything is positive. Perhaps this is one of the reasons he has managed to be such a strong leader at UMD. He is proof that to be an effective leader you do not need to be heavy-handed; perhaps all you need to do is lead by example.
“He is going to leave behind quite the legacy,” Sandelin said. “When someone has true character, they are bound to make an impact. In over 20 years of college hockey, he is one of the best leaders I have had the chance to work alongside.”
Put simply, Krause is a great player and a great person. He is an example of what is right in college athletics and someone that young players should aspire to be like.
Want proof that you can manage to play a Division I sport, be a strong student and remain committed to your community? Know a young player that needs someone to look up to? Someone that proves you can do it all? Adam Krause is it.
Assignment #8: "It's All About Working Together as a Team" (January 7, 2015)
What do a football quarterback and hockey players have in common? Ask New York Islanders forward and Edina native Anders Lee, and he will tell you there’s plenty.
Lee dominated the gridiron and ice for Edina High School. At quarterback, he passed for 2,007 yards and was selected as the 2008 Minnesota Gatorade Football Player of the Year his senior season. That same year he helped push the Hornets’ hockey squad to state tournament appearance.
Now, Lee is using those skills on the NHL stage.
“Being a quarterback requires a lot of leadership skills and a lot of vision,” said Lee, a former finalist for both Mr. Football and Mr. Hockey. “There needs to be an anticipation. Whether it’s a guy cutting on the football field or looking for a forward on the ice, it’s the same type of thing. When you have the puck, you need to know how to start the play. You have to lead the guys on the ice.”
Minnesota State University head coach Mike Hastings said being a quarterback-type player on the ice is a sought after quality that he looks for in his own players.
“A quarterback sees the ice and reads the play,” said Hastings. “He’s unselfish. If somebody continues to give you the puck and you don’t ever give it back, eventually they’re going to stop giving it to you. That’s a quality that, in my opinion, is very important to have in a player.
“It’s the difference in having success in hockey.”
Here are some ways to harness your inner quarterback and become the pro-passer that every teammate will appreciate.
Be Aware: See the ice and notice your options. A great leader in any sport knows what’s happening around him or her at all times.
“Having rink vision is one of the most important qualities a player can have,” said Hastings. “You have to read the play and see the ice. Is there somebody off to the right? Is the net open? Those things can change rather quickly and if you have that vision you can react.”
Be responsive and reactive to plays happening all around the ice, not just in your area or zone.
Keep Your Head Up: If your head is down, you won’t see the open options. Not only that, but your accuracy is gone. It’s natural for the puck and your body to go where your head is facing. Look at the teammate your aiming for and sail the puck over.
Small Areas, Big Plays: Small area games have unlimited benefits to a player’s development. Passing, leadership and being aware are all found in small-area games and practices.
“Where there’s traffic, you will learn, that’s what makes small area games so important,” Hastings said. “It forces you to keep your head up and see where you’re going, and where you want the puck to end up.”
Small area give-and-go games will help increase your on-ice awareness and your passing abilities in tight spaces. Learn how to receive the puck in tight spaces, too.
Extra Man: The boards can be a sixth teammate. Rather than trying to pass through an opponent, bounce the puck off the boards to your teammate. Be weary that this doesn’t just turn in to a dump and chase. Think about your angle and where you want the puck to end up after it leaves your stick.
Don’t Force It: It’s not uncommon to come under pressure with no open outlets or options, but be careful not to put your teammates in a bad position. Just like in football, forcing passes often results in a big hit or a turnover.
“You want a player that moves (the puck) when he should, not when he has to,” said Hastings. “You give it to somebody at the appropriate time instead of making it somebody else’s problem or giving it to somebody who is going to be under pressure right away. Give it to somebody who can shoot or make a play themselves.”
When you come under pressure, use open ice to your advantage by send it to the area where you want your teammate can make a play, not necessarily just where he or she currently is.
Multidimensional: Anyone who pays attention to football knows that dual threat quarterbacks have become a major part of the game, and the same goes for hockey.
“If you’re a player who’s one dimensional, it’s going to be tough to make it,” said Hastings. “The more dimensions you can have to your game, the more valuable you are.”
In addition to be a great passer, learn how to be a good receiver by supporting and getting open for your teammates when they have the puck and be sure to shoot when you have opportunities in scoring areas.
Toss the Sauce: Have an opponent using their stick to cut off the lane between you and your teammate? A saucer pass that goes seven to 10 inches, over the opponent’s stick and lands flat for your teammates is a great option.
Quick Feet: Hockey, football or soccer, the most important thing is to stay on your feet. Just like a scrambling quarterback, a player that is strong on his or her skates will go far – and quickly, too.
“Moving through guys when you’re down in the corners or battling in front of the net is similar to avoiding tackles and staying on your feet,” said Lee. “They both require quick feet and quick movements.”
Skating is a skill that can never be over-practiced. The more you work on strides and quick steps, the better you’ll be.
Roll with it: Work with the puck and feel it roll off your blade. Sweep it across the ice instead of slapping at it. Your teammate will have an easier time accepting the pass that way, too.
Grab the Apples: Scoring is great, being the one who helped make it happen is even better.
“I’m usually the guy in front of the net on the receiving end of a play,” said Lee. “But those guys that play the quarterback and make the big plays, they are the higher skilled players on the ice. There’s a reason they start the play because they are so skilled and can figure out a way to get the puck toward the net.”
Goals aren’t scored out of thin air. Every goal scorer needs a playmaker to set-it-up. Plus we can’t forget that hockey’s a team sport. Whether you tally the goal or add a point in the assist column – or none of the above – it’s all about working together as a team.
Assignment #9: What's Your Vision? (January 25, 2015)
We’ve talked about vision while ON the ice.
The following article talks about vision (or visualization) while OFF the ice (visualizing how you will play the game and react in certain situations). This visualization is what we want our Squirt B White players to be doing while in the locker room before games (even better, also do it at home and on the way to the rink).
The Importance of Visualization: See it, Believe It, Do It
By Minnesota Hockey 1/15/15
Hours before every game, when the arena is still empty and the only sound is the quiet hum of workers preparing for the night’s event, Zach Parise makes his way to the bench and takes a seat. With his stick across his lap he surveys every inch of the ice, visualizing himself competing in each spot.
It is more than a simple game day routine; it’s an important mental exercise that allows Parise to perform at his highest level.
Parise isn’t the only one to practice visualization or mental imagery. According to Hans Skulstad of Minnesota Center for Sports and the Mind, any athlete can practice visualization and reap its benefits.
“The brain does not necessarily distinguish between what’s real and what’s not,” Skulstad said. “There are numerous research studies that suggest performance can be enhanced with mental imagery and rehearsal, even better than singularly practicing a skill. It improves your ability to learn how to block out distractions; it improves your ability to execute in pressure situations because you’ve practiced it before, and it makes the skill of a situation seem more familiar.”
The key, according to Skulstad is to have an athlete visualize playing in their optimal performance zone, doing all the things they do well.
“Sometimes I find it helpful for athletes to select four words to characterize playing really well or in their optimal performance zone, and then focusing on that with the senses,” Skulstad said.
While mental imagery is beneficial for athletes of nearly any age, it can be difficult to get young athletes to buy into the idea at first. Skulstad suggests trying a guided visualization for about a week and then assess whether or not it seems to be working for the team.
This guided practice should focus on positive aspects of an athlete’s performance and should strive to incorporate all the senses, emotions they feel and how their body feels when they’re experiencing success in their performance.
For instance, a youth hockey team may choose to have several guided visualization sessions with a focus on playing fast, physical, confident and as a team. As the players are led through the exercise, they will try to mentally picture what they see, hear and feel when fulfilling each of those aspects of their performance. Once players learn how to practice mental imagery through the guided sessions, they can begin to do it on their own.
In Skulstad’s experience, teams that have bought into mental imagery have gained rewards after regular visualization.
Though not a hockey team, Skulstad pointed out a girls’ basketball team for which he recently created a guided visualization. When he started, the team had just lost to their biggest rival by 20 points, but after regular mental imagery practice, with their four chosen words, they beat that same rival in their next meeting by six points.
If you can see it and believe in it, it becomes that much easier to go out there and do it.
Assignment #10: Be a Friend, Be a Teammate, Be a Leader (February 1, 2015)
Click for Video: http://video.wild.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=541322&catid=846
In 2014, Minnesota Hockey recognized Cameron Pietrusa, a Squirt player from the Hermantown Area Hockey Association as a finalist for the 2014 HEP Essay Contest for his response to “I can make my team better by…”.
“I can help my team get better by…
I think the most important way I can help my team get better is by being a leader on and off the ice. I can make sure that I have good grades and that my teammates are always trying their best on and off the ice.
I can help my team get better by always skating my hardest and crashing the net after every shot.
I can help my team get better by staying positive and always being a team player if we are winning by 10 or if we are losing by 10.
I will help my team get better by respecting my coaches, teachers and family. I will give 100% on the ice, at school and at home.
I will help my team get better by stepping up and helping kids that are being bullied and show them that everyone has their place. It doesn’t matter if they play sports or just like to read, no one should be mean to another person because they are different.
I can help my team get better by being a friend.
I can and will help my team get better by showing my love for the game on and off the ice and showing school pride and respect wherever I go.
I love hockey and will do whatever it takes to help my team!”
Assignment #11: Team Defense ~ Forwards, Centers, & D All Protecting Our Goalie & Our Net (February 6, 2015)
By Kim McCullough, M.Sc, YCS
Playing great team defense doesn’t end up on a lot of highlight reels. Sure, you’ll see bone-crushing hits and game-saving stops on the TV, but you rarely hear much about the “not-so-sexy” stuff that keeps the puck out of the net. Here are three mistakes that aren’t always the direct cause of a goal against, but are quite often the starting point where it all starts to break down.
Players can never be entirely puck focused. When this happens in 1-on-1 battles in the defensive zone, sometimes you end up getting a well-timed poke-check which results in a quick breakout transition for your team. But quite often that puck focus leads to your player getting turned inside out by the attacking player. When the players who aren’t directly defending the player with puck become too focused on the little black thing, they often lose proper position on their man. And unaccounted for attacking players in the offensive zone are a very dangerous thing. All it takes is a well-timed and executed pass from the puck carrier to create a dangerous scoring chance.
We all know we have to stop and start in the defensive zone. This is simply non-negotiable if you want to be a great defensive player and team. And yet we get lazy, and we circle away from the puck and our player all the time. Not only do we lose sight of our man and the puck, but we also lose track of the play. Teams and players must use straight-line skating in the defensive zone in order to keep the play in front of the them and to be able to read what the attacking team might do next. Turn your back on the play too many times and the puck ends up in the back of your net.
3. Chasing the play
Your defensive zone coverage has to have structure. While chasing the puck around the zone might be a marginally effective strategy against opponents who don’t have a high degree of skill or structure themselves, it will lead to disastrous results when you play better teams who can execute in the offensive zone. One particular example of chasing the play that drives coaches crazy is when the wingers are down battling for pucks in the corner.
In the majority of defensive zone systems, the winger who is on the same side as the puck (when the puck is down low in the corner) is responsible for two things. First and foremost, they must try to prevent the puck from making it from the corner to the D on the point who is their check. They must also be in a support position to prevent the attacking forwards from walking off the half-wall if the low players in the defensive system need help. When wingers join the scrum in the corner to fight for the puck, they think they are helping. But then the puck squirts out on the opponent’s stick, is quickly passed back up to the point player they should have been covering who has plenty of time to get a shot off or make a pass that keeps the defensive team running around. Chasing the puck around the zone against a team that moves the puck well is a recipe for disaster.
Fixing those three mistakes will make a huge difference in how you and your team defend. There are certainly more technical and detailed mistakes that we can work on, but this is a great starting point for anyone looking to take their defensive game (and goals-against average) to the next level.