There are three kinds of hockey players: forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders (goalies). Unless a team is shorthanded due to a penalty or overtime, each team will have 6 players on the ice during play. The three forwards (the left wing, the center, and the right wing) are at the front of the team, and they try to score the goals. Two defensemen are behind them (on the left and right), protecting their own goal. The goalie, the sixth player, rarely strays far from his area, but he can skate out and pass the puck to the other players.

One of the interesting things about hockey is that all the players have to be aware of and involved in what is going on all over the rink. Every movement of the puck and the opposing team's players demands a reaction from each player on his own team. As such, forwards are still responsible for participating in defense, and defensemen must play a role in the offense.

While forwards and defensemen can generally play any of those positions if needed, goalies are extremely specialized players. They have to stand in front of the net and stop pucks, some of which are traveling at 90 miles per hour or more. They never play other positions, and other players never play as the goalie (with a few rare exceptions).

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