Youth hockey program, Arlington MA

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Defensive Zone




                                          DEFENSIVE ZONE SYSTEM

                               Fundamental Principles


“Team Defense Wins Championships”


Defense Means Discipline- Perhaps more than any zone, players must carry out their own responsibilities, and with only a few exceptions, should not try to cover a teammates mistake.  If one person is out of position, that is better than having two people out of position.


Defensemen and Centers are interchangeable and aggressively challenge the puck- The center is the same as a defenseman in the Defensive Zone so that we have three players down low in the zone.  Similar to the forward’s role in the forecheck, the defensemen now take on the role of aggressor in the defensive zone.  The neatest defensemen/center to the puck always pressures the puck.  The defensivemen/centers should never be facing the goal line or the goalie.  You must keep your heels to the net, play the body of the player who is in front and you can see what is developing in front of the net. 


Forwards initially backcheck all the way to the net-  Forwards should always backcheck all the way into the low slot on an opposition’s rush until the initial threat has diminished.  Then take defensive zone positions.


Forwards should not chase a puck carrier into the corner- Forwards should never be defending an opposing player in the corner.  If you are the low forward and a loose puck goes to am open corner and you are the only player available to get it to start the breakout, then fine; but only if we don’t have a defenseman/center available.  Otherwise, forwards must be disciplined and cover their zones.


The low forward must be alert- The low forward is positioned in the slot to look for stray players that might be cutting in the back door, from the point, or who may have escaped from the view of the defensemen/center in front.  You must be looking around at what’s going on and not get tangled up with an opponent.


Defensemen/Centers should be willing and able to start skating the puck out of the zone- The most important aspect of starting the breakout is for the defensemen/centers to have their heads up, have an awareness of what’s going on around them, and ideally be able to take at least a few strides with the puck.