Puck Support Critical to DZ Exit Play

Forwards must come back to the puck in the DZ to support the D Pairing
Under Forecheck Pressure

The Strategic Dump-in Recovery Play – A Pressure Offensive Tactic

The strategic dump-in is a pressure offensive tactic designed to recover a loose puck or force a puck turnover to create scoring chances. The hard forecheck is used by the NHL’s Boston Bruins as part of their offensive game plan. They are adept at winning races to loose pucks and forcing turnovers on the forecheck to create scoring chances. It’s an offensive pressure tactic that is best defended with a defensive pressure tactic, one that requires forwards to come back deep into the zone to support puck recovery and to exit the zone as a group. The dump-in is a loose puck and should be a pressure trigger for both teams.


You bring 5 players back deep into the defensive zone for the following reasons:

  • ensure your team recovers the loose puck,
  • reduce the number of puck turnovers and giveaways,
  • outnumber on the puck recovery and on the exit play (5 against 3),
  • ensure puck possession and control against forecheck pressure,
  • trap your opponent on the exit play below the puck to create a counter attack with the player advantage,
  • playing a 200′ game is necessary to be an elite team.

Offensive Puck Support Requirements to Defeat Forecheck Pressure

  1. Structure – The defending team has to come back to the puck as a group (pressure up) into a structure that supports recovery of the puck & the ability to retain puck possession & control to advance the puck on the exit play.
  2. Read & React Skills – The defenders coming back to the puck must recognize the forecheck pressure pattern and get into spots or locations on the ice surface to set quality passing lane options for the player recovering the puck.
  3. Hustle Factor – The forecheckers are skating full speed into the zone to recover the loose puck or force a puck turnover so the defending team must hustle and match their opponent’s speed and intensity.
  4. Offensive Puck Support – Offensive players position themselves on the ice surface to receive the puck in clean passing lanes. A puck carrier requires a minimum of two passing options at all times. Offensive puck support is required to maintain puck possession and control and to advance the puck out of the zone.
  5. Stationary & Moving Outlets – Moving into spots on the ice in the defensive zone to post up as a stationary outlet to move the puck to a another stationary or moving outlet, is part of supporting the puck and advancing the puck with a purpose.
  6. Patience & Confidence – Puck recovery and exit play must be executed with confidence and patience. You need to have the attitude “we’ve got this” and the confidence and patience comes from hours of practice and preparation as a group.
  7. Technical Hockey Skills – DZ puck recovery and exit play requires the players on the ice to possess sound technical hockey skills, it’s a must to be able to execute under the pressure of a good forechecking team.
  8. Creativity – The group on the ice doesn’t need set plays, puck support is a function of reading and reacting to defensive pressure. The group on the ice is best left to being creative in finding open ice and setting quality passing lanes based on what the defensive group gives them.
  9. Communication – Verbal and non-verbal communication on the ice between players is helpful because of the speed of the game. The group that communicates and works effectively together will benefit in their execution.
  10. Timing – Puck recovery and exit play requires perfect timing of puck and player movements by the group. Timing is essential to having puck support, the support can be there and then not there in the matter of seconds, if the group doesn’t time their passes and exit of the zone. It is fine to move the puck backwards or laterally before moving forward to exit the zone. It’s not a race to exit the zone. You want to maintain puck possession and control.

AHL Video Clip of the Springfield Thunderbirds and Providence Bruins

Springfield Thunderbirds Failure to Exit the DZ without Puck Support
Solution to the Hard Forecheck – Support the Puck


DZ Exit Play should be your bread and butter. Hockey is a Possession Game, you need to support the puck to advance the puck and retain puck possession and control, in all three zones. It’s hard work playing a 200′ game, and supporting the puck in all three zones offensively and defensively, but that’s how you win hockey games. The sooner young players develop good habits and the ability to play a 200′ game the closer they become to being able to play at the next level.

Was not surprised to see the Providence Bruins playing a hard forecheck in the Offensive Zone. The hard forecheck and defending up ice is part of the big team’s game, the AHL feeder development team is preparing players for the next level, smart.

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