A special defensive formation in hockey adopted during a 5-on-3 disadvantage to enhance the effectiveness of a penalty kill period.
During a 5-on-3 situation in hockey, the team on defense is typically concentrating their entire effort on preventing the scoring advantage possessed by the team at full strength. The "Iron Cross" is a special formation in which two defensemen, one forward and the goalie position themselves in a diamond-like shape, with the forward at the front, defensemen to the sides, and the goalie to the rear protecting the goal. Imaginary lines running between the two defensemen, and between the goalie and the forward form the shape of a cross. This formation allows for maximum coverage of the defensive zone and allows defensive players to respond to threats from the opposing team.
The "Iron Cross" is also used as a hockey drilling technique to improve player agility. All position players typically participate in iron cross drills to improve their ability to move laterally and to change direction quickly, with or without the puck. A typical iron cross drill will begin at the bottom of the center ice face-off circle, and proceed with skates forward, back to the center, maneuvers to the side and back, then returning to the initial position. The iron cross drill is primarily intended to condition players and increase their aptitude at maneuvering around the rink.