Brief description of drill
Excellent for teams which practice ? ice. Players start on bench (3 forwards and 2 defensemen). Two defensemen are stationed at both neutral zone face off dots. On coach's whistle, the head or assistant coach points his stick to an area and the players on the bench skate to their defensive zone coverage areas. Puck is dumped into the defending zone, then players break out. After defensive zone break out is made, forwards pass puck to one of the defenders, execute a neutral zone regroup, and attack three-on-two versus the two defenders they broke out with.
Running the drill-
Coaches must point stick to various targets requiring players to adapt their defensive zone responsibilities to the different sides the puck may be on. One coach focuses in on the forwards, one on the goaltender, and one on the defensemen. Puck is dumped to different areas requiring the participation or lack thereof of the goaltenders. Dumps should be varied to expose the players to their defensive zone and break out responsibilities. After two break out passes are made (say, D-to-W-to-C), players pass puck to a "defender" in the neutral zone and forwards must execute the teams neutral zone regroup. The defenders who made the initial break out pass cannot cross the blue line and must stay in containment. Once the regroup is executed, the forwards commence a 3-on-2 against the defenders.
Points of emphasis-
This is an integrated drill designed for Bantam A and up. Numerous points are emphasized, including, but not limited to:
1. Simulation of an over the boards line change.
2. Reinforcement of a solid box in the defensive zone with a sticks to the middle and inside position mentality.
3. Reinforcement of defensive zone positioning responsibilities when puck changes from strong wide to the weak wide.
4. Reinforcement of puck receiving skills by the defensemen and goaltenders.
5. Simulation and reinforcement of team break outs, be they G-D-F, D-W, D-C, etc., particularly the combination defensive zone coverage-puck support principles of a well designed and well executed break out.
6. Reinforcement and simulation of a neutral zone regroup, with emphasis on puck support and attack triangles.
7. Team 3-on-2 dump plays, and the team various 3-on-2 rush plays (such as cross and drops, drop and picks, strong side winger to net- weak side winger delay, etc.).
8. Defenders responsibilities in the 3-on-2 attack.
9. Goaltenders communication with his defenders.
Multiple progressions are possible with this scheme: Add the two neutral zone players to work on forechecking and power play principles. Add one or two backcheckers. Etc. All fundamental skills are utilized in this practice format (skating, puck control, hitting, shooting, passing, and pass receiving), along with refinement and reinforcement of important tactical play (attack triangles and so forth). This practice scheme also exposes the players to the transitional nature of the game. Caveat: Limit the drill to 45 seconds, and at high tempo. The kids love it. It is important, finally, in my opinion, to establish a mechanism for appropriate and timely feedback.