The linear crossover is a skating technique used to accelerate in relatively straight lines to generate a whole lot of speed in a very short amount of time. During the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships, Andrew Mangiapane used the linear crossover to perfection to score a remarkable goal. Let’s break down what a linear crossover is and what Mangiapane did to make him that much better on the ice.
The linear crossover
Crossovers and skating in circles almost go hand-in-hand, especially when it comes to skating laps around rinks or making quick changes of directions during games. The linear crossover takes advantage of the accelerative aspects of crossovers and allows skaters to go from a static position to full speed all while skating in one direction.
“The linear crossover is used in more generally straight lines. Players are crossing their feet to accelerate, as opposed to relying on strides.”Greg Revak (@CoachRevak), What is a Linear Crossover? – The Hockey IQ Newsletter
Using the linear crossover adds combines skating efficiency with raw speed, and the world’s best players are using them highly effectively. Greg Revak notes that Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid—among other top hockey players—are often using linear crossovers in all aspects of their game, while players such as Mikael Backlund and Derick Brassard have been seen to use them in advantageous situations as well.
In practise, the world’s best players use linear crossovers to replace forward strides, and it becomes an engrained skating technique that keeps players literally steps ahead of their opponents.
Mangiapane’s use of linear crossovers
The 2021 World Championships concluded with Mangiapane picking up a gold medal to complement his MVP award. He was the spark plug that willed Canada going from near-elimination right to gold. He provided offence for a team that needed it. He provided tenacity for a team that needed it. And he provided speed—well you guessed it—for a team that needed it.
The Mangiapane goal that caught my eye was during Canada’s game versus Italy, where Canada eventually won 7–1. Shortly after Cole Perfetti opened up the scoring, Mangiapane added to Canada’s lead to make it a 2–0 game. Here is the goal of interest:
Skating out of Canada’s defensive zone
Starting from the bottom right corner of the video, Mangiapane (#88) and Peter Hochkofler (#13) of Italy are essentially starting from the same spot in Canada’s defensive zone by the boards. Adam Henrique passes the puck and Connor Brown picks it up right by Canada’s blue line.
At this point, Mangiapane had already created a decent gap between himself and Hochkofler simply by 1) being a bit quicker to react, and 2) using linear crossovers. Mangiapane initially takes three forward strides, but as he reaches the Liga Stavok logo (the green “Ли́га Ста́вок”) on the ice, he transitions to linear crossovers with just two more forward strides taken right as he crosses his blue line. Looking at the video, when Mangiapane actually exits the zone, Hochkofler is already a stick’s length behind.
Neutral zone puck retrieval and acceleration
Then, chasing the puck that Brown sent towards centre ice, Mangiapane continues to use linear crossovers to retrieve the puck as Italian defender Daniel Glira (#21) opts to peel back. Glira’s decision to defend instead of attempting to intercept the puck was made in lieu of not giving Mangiapane a full 1-on-0 breakaway in case the interception failed.
So not only does Mangiapane skate from zone-to-zone, his path also included lateral travel to retrieve the puck—all while using more crossovers to create an even bigger gap between himself and Hochkofler. Between the two blue lines, Hochkofler goes from being the sole chaser to essentially dropping out of the play—completely unable to keep up with Mangiapane.
Out of the ten forward strides (with zero linear crossovers) Hochkofler took to try to get himself back in the play, nine of them were spent getting himself from Canada’s zone to finally crossing his own blue line. By the time he took his tenth and final stride, the play was already over for him as Mangiapane was well ahead and already dealing with Glira in a 1-on-1 battle.
Offensive zone carry-in
Meanwhile, right when Mangiapane picks up the puck, he pretty much just passes the centre line. A few final crossovers and he’s at full speed entering the offensive zone with full control of the puck. With only Glira in between Mangiapane and Justin Fazio (Italy’s goaltender), Mangiapane uses the speed that he already built up to keep his forward momentum, and instead focused on deking out Glira with some fancy stickwork. Mangiapane doesn’t take another stride between entering the zone and taking his shot, simply cause he doesn’t need to with the speed that he generated.
The shot that Mangiapane took wasn’t a highlight-reel shot, but it was taken at an unsuspecting position that ended up beating Fazio anyway. But it wasn’t so much the goal that he scored, but rather it was the skating sequence that really shone for Mangiapane. He started from in between the boards and the lower faceoff circle in his own zone and used linear crossovers all the way to creating a 1-on-1 opportunity that turned into the eventual game-winning goal.
For the Calgary Flames, Mangiapane has been one of, if not their best forward at 5v5 hockey. While he might have been their best kept secret (just one season ago, people unfamiliar with the Flames had him left exposed for the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft), he has definitely left his mark on the hockey world at large now.
Thanks to Mangiapane’s performance at the World Championship, and thanks in part to the power of the linear crossover, he comes back to Calgary with shiny new hardware. Borrowing the words of Don Cheadle’s debut as Colonel James Rhodes in Iron Man 2, I like to imagine that Mangiapane would say something similar: “Look, it’s me, I’m here, deal with it. Let’s move on.”
Except in his case, no one is moving on. It’s Mangiapane’s world, we’re just living in it.