The Six Different Hockey Positions
In a high speed hockey game it can be hard to tell what the hockey positions are unless you are very familiar with the game or know who the players are and the positions they are supposed to be playing.
One the one hand, players in each of the hockey positions have their individual responsibilities and are often selected by a team based on their experience and skill at a specific position. Some players for example are more comfortable playing on the left side of the ice and some are more comfortable on the right side of the ice. Since hockey is such a fast paced game, each player will at various times find himself playing in a different position at various times. Thus a player really has to be comfortable playing in any of 5 positions, the 6th position being that of the goalkeeper, a highly specialized role.
Left Side And Right Side Of The Ice - When you are on the ice and facing your opponents goal with your back to your own goal, there are two positions on the left side of the ice, left wing and left defenseman, and two positions on the right side of the ice, right wing and right defensemen. A fifth player, the center players mostly in the center of the ice, form one end of the rink to the other. The two wings and the center are often referred to as forwards and the two defensemen as defensemen.
Up And Down The Ice - An ice rink has three zones of play (not to be confused with the zones of responsibility of the individual players), defined by 3 lines, the red line at the center of the rink, and two blue lines, each midway between the red line and the net or goal. The defensive zone is the area between the goal and your blue line, the offensive zone is the area between the opponent's blue line and goal, and the center zone is the area between the two blue lies.
Areas Of Responsibility Of the Different Hockey Positions - Each of these five positions has what is a zone of responsibility. A player is responsible for being in his or her defined zone of responsibility, though in the course of a game, can be anywhere on the ice. But if you are going to pass the puck to the left side, it's nice to know that a left wing or left defenseman will be there to take the pass.
Defensemen Responsibilities - The zone of responsibility for the left defenseman is the left third of the ice, extending from the boards behind the defenseman's own goal, up the ice to roughly half way between the opponent's blue line and the opponent's goal. That of the right defenseman is the same except it covers the right third or the ice. A defenseman may spend part of the time behind his own goal clearing the boards and helping the goalie defend the net, but would rarely be seen in the area near or behind the opponent's goal. There is nothing to stop a defenseman from taking a shot on the opponent's goal, and any defenseman will if the opportunity is there, but the responsibility for scoring goals is normally left to the forwards. Even when the puck and his teammates are near the opponent's net, the first responsibility of the defenseman is to fall back to defend his own goal if need be.
Wing Responsibilities - The zone of responsibility to the left wing is the left third of the ice, extending from midway between his goal and blue line, all the way down the ice to the boards behind the opponent's goal. The zone of responsibility for the right wing is similar, except it covers the right third of the ice. The zone of responsibility for the center is the center third of the ice, extending from one end of the rink to the other. The player assigned to the center position is often the fastest skater on the team, being responsible for covering more of the ice than any other player. The center is often the best stick handler as well.
The Goalkeeper - The zone of responsibility of the goalkeeper or goalie, the 6th player on the ice, is the small area directly in front of his net, called the crease. The goalie does not have to be a speed skater, but must be cat quick in his movements. The goalie is the only player on a side that is allowed to catch the puck in the glove or pick up a puck from the ice with the glove. The primary responsibility of the goalie is to keep the puck from crossing into the net. Although the goalie in not directly involved in the action as much as any of the other players, the game is so fast that he must always be on the alert and prepared to defend the net at all costs.