How many times do defensmen exchange the puck in a single game?
Is it the same at every level?
Is there a correlation between passing ability and # of exchanges?
Do better teams exchange more?
This study was initiated after watching numerous U13/U15 games in which teams forced the puck up the strong side over and over with no success. However the stronger teams in the division exploited the weakside of the ice with numerous "overs", which essentially moved the puck around the opposition rather than into/through them.
The study...Every time the puck was successfully exchanged between D partners it was counted/tracked as an exchange.
The 5 main exchanges were:
- D-zone over - Behind net
- D-zone bumps/dinks - Same side support
- D-zone overs - Above goalie
- NZ regroups (or 3/4 breakouts)
- Offensive Blueline overs & PP exchanges
The chart shows an obvious correlation between the age/skill of the athletes vs the number of exchanges. In all of the games tracked there were no anomolies...the number of exchanges increased/decreased in relation to the age division. In each game tracked the team with more exchanges was the winner, however there are numerous factors in play here, a higher skilled team will generally move the puck more efficiently. The number of exchanges could simply be a by product of having higher skilled players or even better coaching with a puck possesion focus. The goal of the study was to help coaches believe that exchanges (specifically overs) are not something to avoid due to the risk of getting a pass picked off, but to teach your defensemen how to read the ice, communicate, stagger and be a good outlet for your partner at all times (puck support).
Data complied by Norcan Hockey using Instat Hockey