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Hound the puck

This is an excerpt from Hockey Plays and Strategies-2nd Edition by Mike Johnston & Ryan Walter.

This system is the opposite of the midlane backcheck. The first forward hounds the puck (backchecks toward the player with the puck) as hard as he can, and if a pass is made, the forward continues to pressure the puck (figure 8.12). The forwards limit the time and space for the opposing players as they move through the neutral zone, and the defensemen hold inside position, protecting the space between the dots. Coaches who like this system generally have a pressure philosophy and want to deny time and space in all areas of the ice.

Figure 8.12

Figure 8.12 Hounding the puck in the neutral zone backcheck.

The advantage of this system is that the opposition is always under pressure through the neutral zone. The puck carrier will have trouble making plays if the backchecking forwards are quick and work hard. In addition, the inside positioning of the defense prevents mid-ice passes. The disadvantage is that at times the backchecking forwards and the defense become confused about what to do if the forwards cannot catch the opposition by the blue line or confront the pass quickly enough. A team must develop rules for these two scenarios to eliminate confusion when they occur. One rule involves having the forward hound the puck until the red line; if the forward is not then even with the puck carrier, the defense takes over and the forward picks up a lane or wide player.