Understanding the Confusion of the Trapezoid Powerplay

In Coaching Hockey, Tacticsby Kevin NogueiraLeave a Comment

The hockey coaching fraternity is notorious for stealing ideas. What works for someone else might work for me, or you, or our opponent. I’ve been studying the trapezoid powerplay in detail and it’s something I plan on implementing with my team this upcoming season.

But first, the basics – the powerplay is an opportunity for teams to gain momentum, not to mention the possibility of creating scoring chances or scoring goals. Any of these outcomes will give a team at least a momentary advantage. But what happens if we break these habits, and look at a powerplay setup that will limit the penalty killer’s options and create more scoring chances while using more of the zone?

Oh, and being original? Introducing the Trapezoid powerplay (TPP).

The TPP is a powerplay setup that creates odd man attacks on defending players. The setup of the TPP is below:

Explaining the Trapezoid

The setup of the TPP is designed to force penalty killers to make tough decisions and go against what they have been taught their whole careers. With two forwards net front, penalty killing defense are forced to stay net front, as they have been taught that the front of the net needs to be protected. Otherwise they will be giving up a 2v1 in a high quality scoring area. This creates a 3v2 situation at the top of the zone, forcing the penalty killers to make tough decisions. Being in shooting lanes is a tough task to do as they can only be in 2 of 3 lanes. This creates an opportunity for a high volume of shots towards the net.

Executing the Trapezoid

The ideal puck position to start this powerplay setup is with D1 in the middle of the ice. If no penalty killers move into the shot lane, D1 has an open shot to the net, with 4 people net front, and F1 and D2 driving for rebounds/retrievals (as seen below).


If one of the penalty killers decides to get in D1’s shot lane, the opportunity for either D2 or F1 is now open. As you can see below, F1 on the penalty kill (green) gets in the middle shot lane. This opens up F1 on the powerplay (black) to receive a pass from D1. With F1 (green) being too far out of position to recover to a good defensive position, F1 (black) will have a clear lane to the net.

Having two forwards net front should keep both defense net front, as this is what they have been taught. If D1 (green) decides to jump F1 (black), F1 (black) can simply make a pass to the low forward for a 2v1 net front (something I am sure many coaches on the powerplay would be happy with). D2 can also sneak down for a cross seam pass as another option for F1 (black). The same would hold true if F2 (green) decided to get in the shot lane, opening these options for D2 (black).

The Trapezoid vs. the Diamond

This powerplay setup could also be effective against a diamond penalty kill, as there would be a 2v1 net front. The top players would need to open up lanes in order to make passes to the down low forwards.


The effectiveness of this powerplay is a result of a few things. For one, it forces the penalty kill to make decisions that they are not used to making, in split second moments. This usually results in breakdowns, which can lead to scoring chances and goals. It also creates an unmatchable 3v2 that will result in a shot one way or another. Lastly, and maybe the most effective, is the fact that this is non-conventional. Implementing this powerplay setup would be something a majority of coaches will have not seen. Therefore they will not know how to defend against it initially. In order to defend the TPP effectively, players will have to go against the conventional things they have learned as players.

I hope to hear some great success stories from the TPP, and thank you all for reading.

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About the Author
Kevin Nogueira

Kevin Nogueira


My name is Kevin, and I am currently an Assistant Coach with the University of Waterloo Women's Hockey Team. I am also the Head Coach of the Major PeeWee AAA team in Kitchener, ON. I have been coaching for 7 years, and always love discussing all things coaching. If you have any questions, or any rebuttals to my posts, feel free to reach out to me at kevinnogueira@outlook.com


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