USA Hockey Magazine

October 2015

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IF YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF IN THE SCORPION POSITION (OFFICIAL YOGA NAME IS VRISCHIKASANA ), WHILE ON THE ICE, ANY YOGA FANATIC WILL TELL YOU THAT IS ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT POSITIONS TO EXECUTE. WHAT MAY BE EVEN MORE AMAZING IS THE FACT THAT YOU ASSUMED THIS POSITION INVOLUNTARILY. HOWEVER, IF YOU ARE ASKING ABOUT POSITIONS IN HOCKEY, IT WOULD BE SMARTER OF ME TO ATTEMPT THE SCORPION POSE MYSELF THAN TO GET CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF SUCH AN ARGUMENT. NO ONE HAS EVER CALLED ME SMART, SO I WILL WEIGH INTO THE FRAY ANYWAY. THESE ARE ONLY OPINIONS, BUT I WILL ATTEMPT TO BACK THEM UP WITH A FEW POSITION-SPECIFIC ABILITIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES THAT MAKE EACH POSITION CHALLENGING. THEN LET THE DEBATE BEGIN. A TEAM'S BREAKOUT LIVES AND DIES AT THE HALF-WALL. WINGS THAT CAN HANDLE THE PUCK AND PRESSURE ARE INVALUABLE. OFTENTIMES, THE PUCK MAY BE BEHIND THEM, IN THEIR SKATES OR NEED TO BE PULLED OFF THE WALL, ALL WHILE THEY ARE BEING PRESSURED BY A FORECHECKER OR PINCHING DEFENSEMAN. MAKING THE BREAKOUT PLAY IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEADING UP THE ICE OR STAYING IN THE ZONE. ON THE ATTACK, WINGS MUST CREATE SCORING CHANCES. WITHOUT THE PUCK, THEY MUST FORECHECK TO CREATE TURNOVERS AND NEVER QUIT ON A BACKCHECK . THIS IS THE ONE POSITION THAT REQUIRES A PLAYER TO PLAY THE WHOLE SHEET OF ICE. CENTERS HELP THEIR DEFENSEMEN DOWN LOW, OFTENTIMES BELOW THE GOALLINE, AND WITHIN SECONDS YOU SEE THAT SAME PLAYER BEHIND THE OPPOSITION'S NET. A CENTER'S SKATING, STICK SKILLS AND CREATIVITY ARE HUGE FACTORS IN GETTING HIS TEAM OUT OF TROUBLE. HE ALSO IS THE CATALYST FOR SCORING OPPORTUNITIES. LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, CENTERS NEED GREAT HANDS TO WIN ALL-IMPORTANT FACEOFFS. GOALIE DEFENSE CENTER WING I'M HAVING AN ARGUMENT WITH SEVERAL OF MY FRIENDS AND WONDER IF YOU HAVE AN ANSWER. WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT POSITION IN HOCKEY? MAX REGAN MADISON, WIS. DEFENSEMEN HAVE TO BE THE BEST SKATERS ON THE ICE. FORWARDS MAY BE FASTER, BUT DEFENSEMEN, WHILE SKATING BACKWARD, MUST CONTAIN THAT SPEED. A DEFENSEMAN'S TRANSITIONS AND CROSSOVERS (FORWARD AND BACKWARD) MUST BE VERY STRONG TO TAKE AWAY SPACE FROM AN ATTACKER OR CREATE TIME WHEN FORECHECKED. OFFENSIVELY, DEFENSEMEN SHOULD BE YOUR BETTER PASSERS. WITHOUT THAT FIRST GOOD PASS IN THE DEFENSIVE ZONE THE ATTACK UP ICE NEVER STARTS. MENTALLY, THEY HAVE ICE IN THEIR VEINS, MAKING QUICK AND CORRECT DECISIONS ALL OVER THE ICE. COMPARING GOALIES TO THE OTHER PLAYERS IS DIFFICULT, LARGELY BECAUSE A GOALIE APPROACHES AND PLAYS A VERY DIFFERENT GAME. GOALIES ARE OFTENTIMES CONSIDERED THE BEST ATHLETES ON THE ICE BECAUSE OF THE PHYSICAL DEMANDS OF THE POSITION: AGILITY, FLEXIBILITY AND REFLEXES. PHYSICAL SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT, BUT JUST AS IMPORTANT ARE SHARP MENTAL SKILLS: FOCUS, ANTICIPATION AND CONFIDENCE. ALL THESE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL FACULTIES MUST REMAIN SHARP ON EVERY SHOT, AND ABOVE ALL, THE ABILITY TO BOUNCE BACK AFTER A GOAL IS SCORED. ✸ ✸ ✸ ✸ M O S T Difficult Difficult POSITION ★ ★ ★ 48 ILLUSTRATIONS BY Mike Curti OCTOBER.2015 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM If You Have A Question For Stix Handle, Send It To: Ask Stix, USA Hockey Magazine, 1775 Bob Johnson Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80906

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