Gap Control - Defending Against Fast Forwards
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02-26-2010, 09:28 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Lewiston, ME USA
Originally Posted by
As a career lifer in houseleague, my advice should be taken lightly as I play at a really low level, but by continually picking up new things and adding new tricks to my defensive arsenal, I've gone from a brutal houseleague player to one who can shut down top forwards with little difficulty.
I'm a strict stay at home defenseman so I've always played cautiously. I hated hockey when I started, and neglected my skills, so foot speed, and stick skills are lacking (goes along way in explaining my level of play), however I find it is very easy to overcome at my level.
Since a lot of guys cherry pick in house league, I'm constantly backing off the blue line to keep them in check. The most important thing I can suggest is making sure that you never stop moving on the blue line, especially if foot speed is a problem. Always move around the blue line with the play, watching it and seeing it develop, and if the other team is trying a long pass, turn around and speed up, or if they're breaking out get moving.
I've always had a heck of a time with forcing guys into making plays at the blue line. At my level I've found it's simply too much of a risk because of a lack of puck support from my teammates. Unless I've got the right gap on the guy, I'll usually give him the blue line, but after that he's fair game. Once he's in the zone, I either maintain position and make sure he goes around on the outside, or get ready for him to pass or cut to the middle, at which point it's pokechecking, or trying the guy up (no body contact unfortunately...). Just make sure you have good body position, you watch his chest/hips, and if he makes a move to the inside, don't go full in on the pokecheck, because some attackers will expect it and go right around you (fishing). Pick your spots.
Also, don't feel pressured to make a play in every situation. Sometimes, the best play is simply to maintain body position and gap control and let the forward do his thing. Often times guys will just go for the big shot that the goalie easily snags.
It has already been mentioned in this thread, don't be afraid to be beaten in a game. At lower levels of hockey, goals come in bunches,
and it's going to happen. Sometimes I'll go three-four games without giving up a goal against on defense, sometimes I'll be on for all of them (last week I was on for all five goals against in my team's 5-3 loss). It isn't necessarily the number of goals conceded that matter, but rather how well you play. You can play well defensively and still give up a lot of goals, that's how it works. If you're slumping, or having a rough game, just get a little angry at the puck. Make the forward fight hard for every inch, and make sure he knows that, even if he's better than you are, that it's going to take a good move to get around you.
Yep men's leagues for beer bellied duffers or even more serious men's leagues do score a lot of goals somwtimes seeing a 13 to 11 game. You know ... because forwards backcheck all the time and don't float lmao!
I play D and like it and accept what it is in a "gentlemen's beer league".
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