The forecheck system that I like to use the most is called the 1-2-3 4Check. The numbers refer to players crossing the blue line – first player, second player, third player and fourth player.
The first player into the zone is called THE MISSILE. This player pressures the puck carrier and “takes the man”. As the name implies, this player takes a direct route to the puck and goes as fast as possible forechecking hard on the puck. The forechecker should take an angle that forces the puck carrier to make a more difficult play or one that keeps play in the zone (we don’t want to allow an easy up or stretch pass).
The second player into the zone is called THE HUNTER. This player’s job is to get the puck. This is the toughest position as it takes reading and reacting, speed, angling, guessing and often a little bit of luck. Remember that we always try to maintain defensive side positioning when hunting.
The third player into the zone is remains in the HIGH SLOT. This player should be ready to cover defensively and back out if necessary. If we recover the puck this player should be in a great spot for a centering pass leading to a scoring chance.
The fourth player into the zone is usually a defenceman. Defencemen are encouraged to get up into the zone quickly to support the forecheck and keep the puck in the zone. If we recover the puck, at least one defenceman should be readily available to jump up for a scoring chance or passing option.
Note that the fifth player (also usually a defenceman) should remain high in the middle of the ice still in the neutral zone (the tip of the umbrella) to provide back side defensive support.