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Video Coach | Low Cycle

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 01/15/17, 6:15PM EST


Breaking down game action video to identify skills, tactics and strategy

Game Date: January 4, 2017

Welcome to OMHA Video Coach where we review a video clip from game action and then break down the sequence into frames identifying key skills, individual and team tactics, strategy and hockey IQ. Video is a great teaching tool that can be used by both players and coaches.

In this edition of Video Coach, we have clip from the recent World Junior Championships Semi-Final between Russia and the United States. The play is a Low Cycle executed in the offensive zone – we will look at the play itself and also take a glimpse at practice to game transfer.

Now, let’s take a closer look and break it down...

  • RUS7 retrieves the puck along the boards and attacks below the goal line into the corner
  • USA20 applies back-pressure and USA4 also moves quickly to pressure and limit time and space of RUS7
  • RUS24 moves to ‘quiet-area’ behind the net – his toes are facing the net, reading the play in front of him
  • The rest of the US players – USA33, 11 & 14 are all ‘in-screen’ protecting net-front, slot and strong-side boards – effectively creating a 2v5 with the puck below the goal line in a low-risk area
  • RUS7 rims puck behind the net to RUS24 and looks for give & go
  • RUS24 rotates to catch puck along boards; he is still reading pressure (head-up; shoulder-check) and prepares to accept contact from USA33 who leaves back post to pressure
  • USA11 now drops to net-front
  • USA20 mirrors RUS7 who starts moving to net
  • RUS10 appears above the hash marks and maintain high F3 position reading the play
  • RUS24 absorbs check from USA33 protecting the puck along the boards
  • USA4 who initially pressured the puck and followed the pass now comes back to post
  • RUS10 continues to read play from high slot
  • When give & go doesn’t happen, RUS7 skates low through net-front
  • At this point USA continues to have numerical advantage with puck in a low-risk area
  • RUS24 attacks open ice behind the net, creating separation from USA33 and continues to effectively protect puck along wall
  • USA4 again jumps down to pressure RUS24 creating another 1v2 situation
  • RUS7 uses the net as protection and separation from his check to support the puck down low; this allows him to get lost in coverage and can surprise the goalie.
  • The situation is effectively is a re-set of the initial clip – 1v2 on puck carrier below goal line, one player supporting in quiet area behind the net, and, all USA players ‘in-screen’ 2v5
  • RUS24 cycles the puck behind the net
  • USA20 has lost contact with his check and RUS7 retrieves the puck cleanly with speed and attacks open space at post which is now undefended
  • Sensing the danger down low – USA11 and USA14 are now both below the hash-marks
  • RUS7 creates separation between himself and USA20 and steps past USA33
  • He wraps the net and has enough time & space to get his own rebound and scores
  • These are the two key differences from initial set-up – speed of RUS7 and the unprotected post

Watch the video again to see how RUS uses quiet areas and the net to create mis-matches and confusion and ultimately a scoring opportunity and goal. The key to cycling is to pull the defending team out of position to open up seams and lanes to the net. The number one goal is to create a chance at the net as quickly as possible. Cycle with a purpose - not just cycling to cycle.

Our next question is…How does the play come about? Is it simply a breakdown with missed assignments? Or, is there more at play here…

The following clip was taken during RUS practice on Dec. 27th – a full week prior to their semi-final game against the US. After some warm-up skating & puck control, it was the first drill of the practice and this tactic was clearly a priority for the team moving forward in the tournament.

The drill replicates the game video where the Coach sets a puck behind the net and creates a 2v2 battle below the hash-marks.

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