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How To Counter A Defenseman’s Reverse

One of the most effective means for a defenseman to get away from a forechecker is the reverse. The reverse is similar to a cycle, where a defenseman that is carrying the puck while being forechecked, chips the puck off the boards in the opposite direction he is skating. The puck bounces past the forechecker and is picked up by the other defenseman.

defenseman's reverse
Defenseman’s Reverse

This works because it instantly reverses the flow of play in the opposite direction of the forechecker who can’t change direction fast enough. Despite not being able to change direction, there is a very easy trick which the forechecker can use to counter this play.

A former teammate of mine was telling me about one of the first things he was taught when he started playing for a Division 1, NCAA team was how to counter the reverse. In fact, the first time he used this play in a game, he stole the puck, walked out in front of the net and scored.

It works like this, as a forechecking forward is following behind the puck carrying defenseman, the forward places their stick towards the boards where the defenseman will bounce the puck for the reverse. A stick in that location will block the reverse pass. In the figure above, the forward would have their stick on the right side, towards the boards. This simple play can result in a quick scoring chance since the turnover will happen around the net. What’s even better is that both defensemen will be out of position, likely behind the goal line.

Most defense pairs who use the reverse play will call “reverse”, and so any forechecker should be able to predict when it is about to happen. Some will use the reverse without calling for the puck so it is advisable to put your stick there anyways.

So there you have it, a play as simple as placing your stick in the correct location. Any player can execute this play, it’s just a matter of being taught to do it.

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