Sunday, September 2, 2012

Offensive Zone Forecheck

Forechecking differs from team to team, but the idea is the same: gain possession of the puck. There are different strategies to forechecking, such as a 2-1-2 or a 1-2-2. These two forechecks are mostly situational, and used at different times depending on the game. The most important part of forechecking, is to stay in position. Whichever forecheck your team is running, you must stay in position for it to be as effective as possible.

Generally the most popular forecheck, the 2-1-2 is also the most effective in a regular game setting. This forecheck is ideal for creating ample scoring opportunities and forcing the opposing team to turn the puck over in their defensive zone. The idea is to have the first two forwards entering the offensive zone to go after the puck carrier with the first forward separating the puck carrier from the puck with a body check (depending on the age level) or pinning the player to the boards, and the second forechecker taking the puck. Now, if playing at a level with no checking, the first player in must do their best to take away the players hands with a stick check, or cutting them off, giving them nowhere to go. If this is the case, the second forechecker should follow closely to gain possession of the puck, or so if the puck carrier does a power turn to change direction, the second forward is there to tie the puck carrier up.
       The third forward (2-1-2), should always be in the slot, or around the top of the circle on the side that the puck carrier is on. This is for two reasons. If your team gains possession of the puck, you are often the best option for a pass. Not only that, but also so that if your teammates are unable to slow down the puck carrier and they break the puck out or skate up the ice you will be the high forward and be in position to slow down the breakout, and you're in the position to prevent any odd-man rushes that could occur if you were caught too deep in the offensive zone.
       The defenceman (2-1-2) are in their usual position at the point. Being in their expected position, defenceman are an option for a pass to the point, but also in great position to back out of the offensive zone if the forecheck is ineffective and the opposing team breaks the puck out.
Example of a 2-1-2 Forecheck

The 1-2-2 forecheck is most often used to protect a lead, or when playing against a team with a lot more offensive firepower than your own squad. In either case, the 1-2-2 is an effective way to keep the opposing team from a smooth breakout, although not as effective for creating scoring opportunities.
       The first forward in the offensive zone (1-2-2) has the responsibility to shut down the puck carrier. When playing a defensive game or protecting a lead, forcing the puck carrier to pass the puck to a teammate is a good play since you have two linemates playing high, even though the ideal play would be to force a turnover. When going deep into the offensive zone alone, it will prove more difficult to gain possession of the puck, but you can still force a turnover. When going into the zone on a 1-2-2 forecheck, the first forward must do their best to get a stick on the puck carriers stick to force a bad pass. Also, taking the body is effective in taking that player out of the play and also yourself, forcing a 4-on-4 breakout, in which case you've done your job. 
       For the second two forwards (1-2-2), staying in the slot area preventing breakout passes is your job in this forecheck. If the first forward in gains possession of the puck, then you can creep towards the net or offer puck support for them down low, but otherwise you should not go deep into the offensive zone. Since this forecheck is targeted at playing a more defensive game, the idea is to keep the puck away from your zone, and by staying high you eliminate an easy breakout for the opposing team. Another thing to keep in mind while using this forecheck, is as one of the high forwards you want to cutoff any passing lanes from the puck carrier, similar to running a trap. If a breakout pass is made with two forwards playing high, the opposing team will be breaking out 3-on-4, or at best if a defenceman joins the rush, 4-on-4. This makes it easier to force a bad pass, turnover, or a dump in.
       The defenceman, similar to the 2-1-2, remain in their usual position. The only difference being that with two forward playing high, the defenceman aren't forced to leave the zone as early since the forwards are applying pressure to the opposing forwards breaking out.
Example of a 1-2-2 Forecheck

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