Hockey: Canada's Royal Winter Game/Chapter IV
THE SCIENCE OF HOCKEY.
WHAT is the objective point, the central idea, in the game of hockey? To score,—to lift, slide, push or knock the puck through your opponent's goals.
A team and each individual member of a team, should concentrate every idea, every thought, on this one desire, and each play, each move, should point to it, as the rays of the sun are converged through a glass, to the focus.
That play is vain which does not tend to bring a team, or a member of a team, to a position from which the desired point can be gained,—a useless move effects the position of a team, throws the players out of poise.
The fancy play, the grand stand play, is a waste of energy, childish, worthless. The play that counts, the play that shows the science of the man who makes it, is the immediate execution, in the simplest manner, of the plan that a player conceives, when he considers the object of his playing. In other, geometrical words, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and applied to the science of hockey, it means that a player should take the shortest and quickest way of obtaining the desired effect, which, by analysis, is often times the most scientific.
When it is said that every player of a team should strain nerve and muscle to score a goal, the meaning is not that each individual member should strive to do the act himself, but that he should use every effort to assist him to score who is in the most advantageous position to do so. The selfish desire on the part of even one man, to make the point, often times entails the loss of a match.
Although by nearing his opponents' defence with the puck a player naturally approaches the position from which to shoot, he will invariably confuse his adversaries more successfully, and often secure for himself or his partner, a much more desirable vantage ground, by passing the puck to the latter, before reaching the cover-point. Indeed, if the question of praise be mentioned, there is often more due to the player who assists by a clever bit of combination work, than to the man who scores the game.
The secret of a team's success is combination play, in other words, unselfishness. It means the giving of the puck to a player of one's own side, who is in a better position to use it than the man who first secures the rubber. It is the science of mutual help. As in lacrosse and football, it is a “sine qua non." The team that indulges most in this scientific play, has the less hard work to do, and is necessarily the freshest when the trying end of the match comes round, because combination play minimizes the Work in this arduous game.
As soon as a player secures the puck, he should first look for an opening, and then size up, at a glance, the position of his confreres. It is, indeed, a question whether it be not more scientific, more successful, to first look for a good opportunity to pass the puck to a partner, and then, if none such presents itself, to force a clearing.
It happens that a fast forward can by his own personal efforts, score one, two, or perhaps, three goals, but towards the close of the game, he is no longer able to do effective work, because his selfish exertions have played him out, and when necessity demands that, because of poor assistance from his partners, a good man should indulge in individual work, such may be permissible, but the team thus handicapped cannot expect to win from a well~balanced aggregation.
Combination in hockey is the scientific means to the end at which the players aim, viz., the placing of a man of the team that makes the play, in the best obtainable position to shoot a goal, and should be carried on only until that position is attained.
It is possible to indulge even too much in combination work, necessary as it is on most occasions, and, thus, the virtue may be turned into a vice. It should not be played too freely by men in from of their own goals, and as it is merely a means to an end, an over indulgence in it is a loss of lime, of which hockey is too fast a game to allow.
In close quarters, the puck should be passed to a man's stick, and not in a line with his skates. A scientific player rushing down the ice with a partner will give the puck to the latter, not in a direct line with him, unless they are very close together, but to a point somewhat in advance, so that he will have to skate up to get it. The advantage in this style of passing is that the man who is to receive the rubber will not have to wait for it, but may skate on at the same rate of speed at which he was going before the puck was crossed, and proceed in his course without loss of time.
The puck should be passed in such a manner that it will slide along the ice, and not "lift," because it is difficult to stop and secure the rubber when it comes flying through the air. There are times, of course, when a "lifted" pass is necessary, for instance, when the line on the ice between the passer and the receiver is obstructed, but, otherwise, the "sliding" pass is advisable.
When two "wing" men play combination together, in an attack, the puck should scarcely ever be passed directly to each other, but should be aimed at the cushioned side of the rink, some distance in advance of the man, so that he may secure it on the rebound. The rink is so wide that it is difficult to pass the puck accurately from one side to the other, especially during a rush, so the above means is recommended.
When three or four forwards are making a rush, the puck should be held by one of the centre players until the cover point is reached, because in such a play the latter does not know to which man the rubber is to be passed, for it may be given to the right or the left wing or even to the other centre player, but when, in an attack, a wing man has the puck, the cover point knows that he must necessarily cross it out to the centre, and is prepared for the play.
When the forwards of a team are operating around their opponents' goals and cannot get an opening, it is sometimes advisable for them to slide the puck to their cover point if he is well advanced towards the middle of the rink, because this will probably coax out the defence, and the change of positions may create the desired effect.
One of the most successful, and, perhaps, the most neglected of combination plays is the following: when a player secures the puck behind or to the side of his opponents' goals, he should, if he has time, slide it to his assistant who is in the best position to receive it, or, if not, to the side where he knows that one of his men, by a preconcerted, practiced arrangement, awaits it, but he should never send it, with a blind, trust-to-luck shot directly in front of the goals, because the point and cover point should be, and usually are, stationed there. This simple play is often attended with great success. To guard against this play the defence men and forwards of the attacked goals should see that, when the puck is around the goal line, each of their opposing forwards is carefully checked.
Each player should be careful to remain in his own position, and in order to acquire the habit of so doing, every man should make it a point in each practice, however unimportant, to cling to the particular position on the team which he is intended to fill. It is a grievous mistake for a wing man to leave his position and play in the centre of the ice or on the side to which he does not belong, or for a centre player or rover to wander to the wings, because as each man has a cover, a check, on whom, in turn he should bestow his attention, he gives his opponent, when he leaves his place, an opening that the latter should not, and would not have if he were properly watched, besides, the forwards and the defence men of an experienced team ought to be able to know where their assistants are or, rather, should he by judging from their own positions. When a man strays from his own territory, a brilliant combination play may easily be lost through his absence from his proper place.
Each player of a team should occupy his position so unfailingly in practice, and the team should indulge in combination work to such an extent, that, in a match, a forward ought, at times, to be able to slide the puck to an assistant without even having to look to know where the latter is. If perfection be aimed at, and it should, the point of following up should be so regular, so systematic that this play may be successfully indulged in, because, with every man working in his position, like so many movements in a clock, a forward with the puck, in advance, should know without looking, where each of his partners follows.
The prettiest spectacle afforded by a good hockey match, is the rush down the ice, four abreast, of the forwards. This play to a man of sporting instincts, verges on the beautiful.
When four men in a line, racing at lightning speed, approach the defence of their opponents, it is then that the goal-keeper of the attacked party sees danger signals floating in the air, because the assistance he will receive from his defence men, is, on these occasions, problematical. If they crowd in upon him, his view of the play is abstructed; if the cover rushes out he may not use the bodycheck, because he does not know which man will have the puck, and therefore cannot afford to waste time and energy on one who has already passed the rubber, or who will do so, and the point man must necessarily keep his position unless some fumbling occurs. But should the forward line advance four abreast? This is a serious question.
When such a rush is being made, one slip, one fumble, a fraction of a second lost, will throw at least three of the forwards off-side, out of play. It is a good deal safer and more satisfactory for one man, say the rover, to follow the three other forwards, slightly in the rear, so that if such a slip, such a fumble occurs, he will be close on hand to recover the puck, and quickly place his men in play.
More than two forwards should never be behind their opponents' goals at the same time, because it is necessary that some should be in front, in case the puck should be passed out to them, and, moreover, if it be lifted down by their adversaries, they have a chance of stopping it in a good position to shoot for the goals.
At least two men should be in front, in order to follow up any attack that their opponents might make on their goals. It is surprising how much trouble can be caused a forward line by a persistent forward who nags at them from behind. He can often break up a combination, and create more confusion among them than a defence man, because they know what to expect from the latter and are on the lookout for him, but find it difficult to deal with a fast man who bothers them in this way. It is in this work that a fast skater shows to advantage.
Should a forward who has gone down the ice alone attempt to pass the cover-point and point of the opposing team, before shooting? Yes and no. If the cover-point is well up towards the middle of the rink and the point is not too near the goals, let him strain every nerve and muscle to dodge them both and when shoot, but if the defence men are bunched in front of the poles, he should lift without trying to pass the cover-point. His shot, in this case will often prove effective, because, having his two assistants directly in front of him, obstructing his view of the play, the goal keeper cannot easily stop a low, hard, well directed "puck," besides, he will deprive the cover-point of the pleasure of "using his body."
On approaching the cover-point, a forward, before passing the puck, should incline a good deal towards the opposite side to which he is going to send it, because in so doing he will force the cover-point to leave his place, and thereby create a better clearing for action.
It is a peculiar fact that defence men, in their positions, are usually less apt than forwards to get excited, which might be accounted for by this that it is a great deal easier for them to prevent a man from scoring than it is for him to score, and, besides, they are in their own territory moving at comparative ease, whilst the rushing forward tears down at full speed and has time enough only to think of how he may pass the puck or how elude the cover-point. The forward player has more to think of, more to do in order to score, than the defence men have in preventing him.
It is in the attack on goals that a forward's coolness will assist him. For a man to know what to do, when he is near his opponents' defence, requires thought. The ever-varying changes in conditions and positions prevents a man from having any set line of action in an attack. Every rush is confronted by a different combination of circumstances, and a forward must know, on each separate occasion, the play that is best calculated to effect the desired result. This knowledge is the attribute of an experienced player and must go hand in hand with coolness. Practice teaches a man what to do, coolness enables him to do it.
It is singular, but remarkably true that a forward who could not win even a "green" skating race, can excel as a lightning hockey player. It is one of the ingenious paradoxes of the game, that cannot be explained. A man who can beat another in a race is not necessarily a faster forward than that man. Examples on every team prove the contention. Perhaps the possession of the puck, the excitement of the game, the attraction that an assistant has when skating near him, gives to the man who may not claim distinction as a racer, a power, a speed, that a simple race cannot make him exercise; perhaps the superior science of a player who cannot skate as well as another, may enable him to surpass that man in general speed, by minimizing his work and by allowing him to husband his strength for the great efforts that occur at different stages of the game.
When a forward skates down the rink near the side, his easiest way of dodging an opponent is by caroming the puck against the boards, which act as a cushion, passing his man on the outside, and recovering the puck which bounces out to meet him. In this play the puck should invariably be lifted, because the dodge is expected, and if the puck slides along the ice to the side it may often be easily stopped.
When a forward, rushing down the ice, is well followed by another of his side, he should not try to dodge the cover point, but should draw out that man by inclining to the side, and pass the puck to his partner, taking care to then place himself in the best possible position to receive it back, if the latter cannot shoot.
A man should check his opponent’s stick heavily, as a gentle stroke, an easy check, has seldom any effect.
Experiences teaches that in a low, bent position, a man can get up speed a good deal quicker than when he keeps his body upright, and, moreover, he is less liable when skating thus, to suffer from the body check of an opponent.
A body check means the striking of a man with your hip or shoulder in order to cause him to stop or even fall. The most effective check of this kind is striking a man with the hip, upon his hip, because this is more or less the centre of gravity in a human being, and a good, solid weight catching a person in this spot, especially when that person is balancing on his skates or rushing up the ice, seldom fails in the desired result. The forward player who indulges in body-checking makes a fatal mistake, for although he may gain a momentary advantage, he wastes so much energy in the act, that in the long run he is a heavy loser. This is an incontrovertible fact, the testimony any forward will bear out the statement. He should avoid body-checking with even greater care than he should being checked, because the former requires a great effort, and the latter only seldom injures the man who is encountered, A defence man, however, who has but few rushes up the ice, can afford to enjoy the pleasure of "throwing" himself at an opponent, and often to great advantage. He is in a good position to catch his adversary "on the hip," especially when the latter is "on the wing," as it were, and can thus often put a short-stop to a dangerous run. The effect of a body-check is not so "striking" when the object of it steadies himself in as low a position as possible, while the man who is using the play attains his end better by catching his opponent, as stated above, in the centre of his weight, or higher, when the latter is not steadily placed. This practice of body-checking is permissible, and, to a certain degree, scientific, but it is questionable whether it be not a less noble way of overcoming a dangerous opponent, than by expert stick handling, or by some gentler means. It cannot be said to be directly in accordance with the strictest, the highest sense of polished, fair, scientific play. It certainly is a feat, difficult of accomplishment, to stop a man who is rushing towards you with the speed of an express train, and upset him without the slightest injury to yourself, but is this the fairest way of defending your flags? It savors too much of roughness, and can be the cause of a serious accident, because a fall on the ice, at any time is usually painful and dangerous enough, without any additional impetus from without. If it is allowable, it is most unfair to "body" a man into the side of the rink.
There seems to be a growing tendency now-a-days to resort to football tactics in hockey. Among some of the senior teams the practice of interference is becoming prominent, and should be severely checked, because it is an unfailing cause of unnecessary roughness. No player, however mild, who is rushing down the ice to secure an advantageous position, will allow himself to be deliberately interrupted, stopped by an opponent who has not, and should not have the right to oppose his course, without picking a bone or two with him. Another innovation that is calculated to injure the game, is mass plays. This rupture of the rules was conspicuous among certain teams last year. It might be hard to imagine or detect such a thing in hockey, but it, nevertheless, occurs. It is practically "concentrated interference," in technical terms, and, as in football, is used by the team which attempts to score, a point which distinguishes it from simple interference as used by an attacked team to prevent scoring. To be properly carried out it involves the disregard for the rule regulating onside movements, and is therefore, though difficult to detect, a breach of the same. The teams in cities where the practice of interference in foot-ball is more popular, are the most given to this play.
It is essential that the two centre men and the right wing should be able to shoot the puck as well from the right side as from the left, because the chances of scoring in either ways are about equal. As for the left wing, he is called upon so seldom to shoot from the right, that is presuming that he holds his stick correctly, with the blade to his left side, that it is not so important for him.
The most dangerous, successful lift for the goal, is raising the puck about to the level of the knee. This height is too great to allow the goaler's stick to be of any use, and is not high enough to be stopped by his bulky body.
The lift is not obtained by strength, but by knack and a good stick. Of course the more strength there is in the act of lifting the greater will be the velocity of the shot. But strength minus knack is not so successful as knack minus strength.
To lift the puck, the edge of the blade of the hockey stick must touch the puck lower than half its thickness, and the practiced "twist of the wrist" accomplishes the rest. This form of ridding yourself of the rubber is most important, because by a lift the puck travels farther and faster than it would along the ice, which gets cut up soon after the opening of a match, besides, it is much harder for an opponent to stop a lift than an ordinary sliding puck.
It is a mistake to lose courage because your apponents score the first three or four goals.
Do not begin to play roughly because you are losing; and do not purposely and ostentatiously avoid scoring against a team that has already lost, because even if a bad beating does discourage them they would rather suffer it than be humiliated by any such show of pity.
Do not imagine that after winning a few games the match is won, because "accidents" occur, and do not dream of laurel wreaths and championships on account of your success in the opening of the series.
Attend every practice but do not become over trained.
A man should not lose his temper because he suffers a sore knock. A display of "fireworks" is often the cause of an undesirable rest among the spectators.
Do not question the decision of the umpire or referee. Let your captain plead the case.
THE hockey team is composed of seven players, each of whom has his own, distinct position to fill, and the success that attends a well balanced aggregation, depends a great deal upon the systematic way in which these positions are looked after.
Each man has his particular place to fill, his own work to do, and each position on the team, from the goal minder's to that of the centre forward, differing essentially from the others in the duties that it entails, calls for work that may not he used in any other.
the positions of the team.
Of all the responsible positions on a team, that of the goal-minder is perhaps the most difficult satisfactorily to fill. It is so hard to stop a strong, well-directed shot, and so many of them pour in during the course of a match, that in the exercise of his work, even though it occurs only periodically, the goaler is called upon to use the greatest skill and coolness. A forward may miss a good chance to score, and the effect is only negative; a point or cover-point man may make a mistake, but there is usually an assistant around to help him; but when the goal-minder makes a blunder, the whistle is blown and a point is placed to the credit of his opponents.
Mr. F. S. Stocking, goal-keeper of the Quebec team, and generally recognized throughout Canada as the peer of his position, has kindly contributed the following hints on goal-minding:
"Goal-keeping is one of the easiest and at the same time one of the most difficult positions to fill successfully on the team.
"It is simple because it is not altogether essential to be an expert skater or stick handler. It is difficult because it requires a quick and true eye together with agility of motion and good judgment.
"Besides keeping his eye on the puck, he must have a good idea where his opponents are placed so as to be prepared to stop a shot resulting from a sudden pass in front of goals.
"I am of the opinion that the goaler should only leave his goal under the following conditions:—First, when he is quite sure that he can reach the puck before an opponent, and when none of his own team are near enough to secure it instead; secondly, when one of the attacking side has succeeded in passing the defence and is coming in (unsupported) towards the goal, then the goaler, judging the time well, may skate out to meet him, being careful that he is directly in line between the shooter and goal. This sudden movement surprises the man and he is liable to shoot the puck inaccurately or against the goaler’s body.
"In stopping the puck, the feet, limbs, body and hands are all used according to the nature of the shot. The stick is used to clear the puck from the goals after stop has been made, but rarely to make the stop.
"Some goalers use the hands much more frequently than others and make splendid stops in this way. But this depends on the individual's handiness, those accustomed to play baseball and cricket, excelling.
"The most difficult shot to stop results from a quick pass in front of goals at the height of about one foot off the ice.
"Goalers should use a good broad bladed skate, not too sharp, so as to allow easy change of position from one side to the other of the goal. He should dress warmly and protect his body and limbs with the usual pads which at the same time help to fill up the goal.
"He must not get "rattled" by the spectators and never lose confidence in himself."
Many a goal is scored by an easy, lazy, slide, or by a long lift, when the goaler is not expecting danger, therefore the man in this position should be careful to follow the movements of the puck even when it is at the other end of the rink, and cautious in stopping the easiest shots, because "there's many a slip." Nothing should fluster a goal keeper, nothing discourage him. If one of his opposing forwards dodges every one of his apponents, and has a clear, dangerous opening for the goals, even then let the goaler retain his self-possession and confidence, because, nine times out of ten, the forward who is making the attack, is more excited over the peculiar circumstances of his rush than the former possibly could be, and will often shoot less accurately than he would under less favorable conditions. It is a mistake for a goal minder to imagine that he is not doing his duty because three or four, or more points have been scored against him, because the fault may, and very often does, rest upon the poor assistance he receives from his defence and forwards.
He should insist upon his defence men keeping at a reasonable distance from the goals, but if they do crowd in upon him, he should crouch down as low as the law allows and carefully watch the puck.
When the play is to his left, he should incline to that side in his goals, touching the pole with his leg and side, and, if to the right, vice versa, but when it is directly in front, let him be right in the centre of his goals, occupying as much space as possible. He should never rely upon his assistants to stop any shot, but should always be prepared for an emergency. As soon as he stops the puck he should clear to the side, not waiting to be attacked, or if he has plenty of time, lift it towards his opponents' goals, although it is advisable to give it to one of his defence men to deal with, because, through practice, they can usually lift better than he, and, besides, are in a position to start a rush by passing it to their forwards.
A poor skater who is a good goal-minder would be a better goal-minder if he were a good skater. His skates should be made in such a manner, or fastened with straps in such a way, that the puck may not pass between the plate and the blade, and his stick should be short in the handle so that he may manage it easily when the puck is near his skates.
If the new goal scheme, advocated by the Quebec Hockey Club, be accepted, the usefulness of the goal-minder will be increased, and his science will be more frequently called into play, because the position of the goals, flush with the end of the ice, makes them amenable to attack from whatever place in which the puck may be, whereas, nowadays, the danger is not immediate when the puck is behind the poles.
Mr. "Mike" Grant, the best known player in Canada, captain for years of the erstwhile invincible Victorias, in speaking on general defence work, says:—
"The defence of a successful team must necessarily be as proportionately strong as the forward line. Although their territory, their sphere of action, is more limited than that of their forwards, the defence men have work to do, that is, in its effect, as important as the rushes of the latter.
"The goal-keeper should consider that he is enclosed in a magic circle, and should scarcely ever leave his position, but if he does he should return to it as soon as possible. He should not depend upon his defence to stop the puck. The point and cover-point should play as if they were one man in two positions. The position of the point should be determined by that of the cover-point. If the cover-point is on one side, the point should be on the other to such an extent only, though, that each may have an equally good view of the play, and that a forward who advances towards their goals will have two distinct men to pass, instead of two men, one directly and close, behind the other.
When two forwards approach their goals, the cover-point should devote his attention to the man who has the puck and block him as well as he may, and the point should advance slightly to meet the other, and, incidentally, to intercept any pass that may be attempted.
During a tussle behind or to the side of the goals, the point and cover-point should never leave their positions vacant. If the one leaves his place the other should remain in front, but never should both be away, because the absence of these two men from their proper positions is the cause of more games being lost, than any other fault they may commit.
"The position of the point man is essentially defensive. The distance between him and the goaler is determined by the proximity of the play. He should not stray too far from his place, because oftentimes he is practically a second goal-minder, able, through the practice that his position gives him, to stop almost equally well as the latter, but although he should remain close to his goal-keeper, he should never obstruct that man's view of the puck. Whenever it becomes necessary for the goaler to leave his place, it is the duty of the point man immediately to fill it, and remain there until the latter returns.
He should, as a rule, avoid rushing up the ice, but if he has a good opening for such a play he should give the puck to one of his forwards on the first opportunity and then hasten back to his position, which has been occupied, in the interim, by the cover-point. The deciding game in a match for the Stanley Cup, between the Victorias of Winnipeg and the Victorias of Montreal, was scored by the point man of the latter team.
"When it is absolutely necessary, combination play may be carried on by the point and cover-point in front of goals, but only with the greatest care.
When three or four forwards skate down together it is advisable for the defence men to retire towards their goals and block them until assistance from the forwards arrives.
"The defence men should not allow themselves to be coaxed, drawn out, by their opponents.
A lifting competition between the defence men of the opposing teams is fatiguing to the forwards, and very tiresome to look at.
"The position of the cover-point is the best adapted for the captaining of a team, because a man in this place is in touch with the defence and the forward players."
Mr. Hugh Baird, captain and cover-point of the Montreal Hockey team, contributes the following in connection with the position, in which he has risen to such high distinction:
"The cover-point is a combination of a defence man and a forward, and is allowed, in virtue of the fact, more latitude with respect to leaving his position, than any man on the team, except the rover.
"In his capacity of a defence player he should linger around his goals as long as the puck is near, and be very careful when he secures it in front of the poles. When the play is at the other end of the rink, the cover-point should advance to about the middle, so that when the puck is lifted down, he may return it without loss of time, in order to keep the game centered around his opponents’ goals, and to save his forwards the trouble of skating up to him so that they may again "get into play." It is by playing far up under these circumstances that a clever cover-point can shine to the advantage of his team. If he has a good opening he should shoot well for the goals, but if he has not, he should, as I have said, return the puck instantaneously.
When in this position, far from his goals, a cover-point is suddenly confronted by an opposing forward who rushes down the ice, he should skate towards his defence, watching that man and gradually closing in upon him.
I am an advocate of legitimate body-checking, and consider that the most successful way of stopping a man who approaches alone, is by blocking him, obstructing his course in any way that does not violate section 8. It requires less effort and is less dangerous to block an opponent than to "body" him.
A forward player, nine times out of ten, or even oftener, will try to pass the cover-point by first feinting to the left, then dodging to the right. If this be remembered, the cover-point will not bother about that feint to the left, which is to his right, but will almost invariably expect to be passed on his left, or the forward’s right, and will act accordingly.
"He should be as careful to prevent a forward player, who is advancing towards him, from sliding the puck between his feet, a common and successful dodge, which, however, in its execution, requires a good deal of confidence on the part of the man who attempts it.
"The puck should be stopped, from a lift, by the hand, and in such a way that it will drop "dead" and not bound forward.
"In lifting the puck, attention should be given to direct it so that it shall not be sent to an opponent, but to the side or to an opening, in order to enable the forwards to follow it up and block the return.
It is advisable for the defence to be so placed that if the cover-point is directly in front of the goal-minder, the point will be either to the left or right, between the two, because they will thus all have a clear view of the play. On no occasion should the three defence men be in Indian file, one directly in front of the other.
"A cover-point in lifting the puck should be guided by the positions of his players. If they are around their opponents' defence, he should quickly lift the puck in their direction, in order to keep the play in that territory. In this case he should lift and not dribble or slide the puck, because a lift is more difficult for his adversaries to secure. If his forwards are around their own defence and he is forced clear, he should shoot the puck in such a direction that will cause his opponents the most trouble to recover it, thus enabling his forwards to follow up with a chance of securing the return.
"When the cover-point secures the puck and only a short distance exists between himself and his forwards, he should advance, pass the puck to them and bring them all into play, then return to his post.
"He should attempt an individual rush only when an exceptional opportunity offers itself. In the early part of a match the cover-point should not leave his position more than is absolutely necessary, but towards the end, when his opposing forwards are played out he may assume, to great advantage, a decidedly offensive position.
"The stick of a cover-point player should be somewhat heavier than a forward's. It should belong in the handle, in order to increase a man`s reach, and the blade should taper, becoming thinner towards the end, which aids in raising the puck. His dress and skates are the same as used by the forwards."
Mr. Harry Trihey, captain of the Shamrock Hockey Team, holders of the Stanley Cup, and perhaps the most effective forward player in the game, gives the following as his opinion regarding forward playing:
"The essentials of a forward are science, speed, coolness, endurance and stick-handling, which embraces shooting, and the success of a forward line is combination play. Science and speed are exercised at all times during the game; coolness is essential, especially when a forward is near his opponents' goals; endurance is taxed in the second half of the match, and stick-handling is a necessary quality whenever the player has the puck.
"The centre player, the right and the left wing men must stick closely to their positions, but the rover, as his name indicates, may use his judgment as to what particular place is most in need of extra help. If the defence be weak or crippled, the rover should lend his aid to that part of the team when he is not absolutely needed by the forwards, but he should also follow up every rush that is made by the latter. He should be the busiest man on the team, because, as a forward, he must attack, and follow up every attack on his opponents' goals; he should also be the particular player to return to help his own defence against every rush by his adversaries.
"It is necessary that a forward should be in the 'pink of condition,' and that he should take great care of himself in practice, because even the slightest injury will proportionately lessen his usefulness. Besides the ordinary training, it is advisable to diet, in order to get into the proper condition. 'Early to bed, early to rise,' should be a player‘s maxim, because sleep before midnight is much more beneficial than it is after that time.
"Dodging depends upon the ingenuity of a player, and no rule can be laid down to regulate the science, because each separate dodge must be adapted to the circumstances of his own and his opponents' positions.
"To resist a body-check a player should take care to make himself as solid on the ice as he can, but at the same time, allowing the upper part of his body to remain limber, so that the shock may not be so strongly felt. When advancing towards a man who, he knows, is going to body-check him, a player should, on meeting him, slide the puck forward to such a place, and in such a manner, that after the encounter, he may have a better chance of recovering it. I think, however, that a clever forward can nearly always avoid a body-check, because, advancing at a high rate of speed, he has the advantage over an opponent who awaits him. The forward should never body-check, because this exhausts his strength.
"The most successful shot for the goals is a lift which raises the puck only as high as the goal-minder's knee. A player should accustom himself to shoot from both sides.
"Most goals are scored on a rush, not from a scrimmage, and for this reason it is advisable not to lose too much energy in tussling for the puck behind the goal-line.
"It is a mistake to attempt to score a game when too far removed from the goals, or at too great an angle to the side.
"The forwards should be careful not to "bunch," not to crowd around the puck, which can be avoided if each man plays in his own position.
"A forward's dress and skates should be light.
"His stick should be strong, light and not too flexible, having a long blade and handle, which will increase his reach. It should be made of second growth ash, which is the most serviceable wood, because it combines strength with lightness, and does not, like most other woods, absorb the water which frequently appears on the ice. When a player gets a stick that suits him, he should carefully note its particular points, so that when that one breaks, he may secure others of the same shape. A player should use the stick that he himself prefers, and should not be guided by the choice of others, although, of course, he should always look for an improvement on his own."
In describing the qualifications and duties of a Referee, Mr. Gordon Lewis, of the Montreal Victorias, whose efficient services in this position make him a competent judge on the subject, has this to say:
"The man who accepts this important position should, above all, have a thorough knowledge of the rules of the game, because, in his capacity of Referee, he must judge the play and carefully guard against any infringement of the rules. His decision is final, his authority supreme, and although he should listen attentively to any objection that a captain of a team may have to his ruling, he must judge conscientiously according to his own interpretation of the rules. A Referee should never argue with a player, because the captain is the only man on the team who is entitled to raise an objection. It is my opinion that a Referee cannot very well be too strict. It is his duty, it is to the interest of the game, to exact that the game be played according to the rules.
"He should follow the play from one end of the rink to the other, keeping in the centre, when the puck is near the side, and vice versa, but always near enough to follow it well, without ever obstructing the way.
"He should be strictly impartial, and should be guided, in his decisions, only by stern justice, besides, he should be careful that the crowd does not in any way influence him. Even a losing team should be allowed no advantage, however slight.
"Before the match begins the Referee ought to warn the players against rough and foul play—and afterwards deal out his punishment to an offender commensurately with the grievousness of the foul.
"'Loafing' off-side should be strictly dealt with, as also should deliberate rough play. A Referee in enforcing the rules should give his decision only after careful consideration, but then he should remain firm, obdurate, unless, perhaps, he plainly sees that he has made a mistake, which even a Referee may do, in which case it might be well for him to reverse his ruling.
"If the two centre men will not face correctly, let them be changed, and if the next couple are bothersome, they should be ruled off.
"If the Referee sees evidence of unfairness on the part of the Umpires it is his duty to warn the captains.
"As a general rule, the Referee should be very strict on the "off-side" question, but I think that in the case where the off-side is a matter of only a few inches, and the play is not in the vicinity of the goals, a little leniency in this respect will make the game more interesting."