It’s a 2-on-1!
Or maybe it’s a 3-on-2 or a 3-on-1. For the attacking team, it’s a scoring opportunity that it doesn’t want to waste. How can the players take advantage of the situation and score a big goal for their team?
It starts with practice, says Jeff Giesen, the associate head coach for the Minnesota State Mavericks women’s team.
“Repetition in practice so you can recognize the situation,” he said. “Hockey, it’s always changing, so you’re reading and reacting to whatever (the defense) is giving you. So the more you can practice and see different looks and what’s available is going to help you create different attack options.”
Here are some of his tips to take advantage of outnumbered situations:
Keep your head up and read what the defender is doing. Are they moving up on the puck carrier or moving back?
“We always try to enter the puck on the outside and then work it from there,” Giesen said. “Our players are looking through the triangle of the stick. So if the defender is up, try to slide it through to (your teammate) as she’s going hard to the net. If the defender is back, you can go to the front or go to the third person coming way late all the way across.”
Remember that the puck on your stick usually isn’t right in front of you. It’s off to one side or another. So if a defender is playing your body straight up, you’re going to have room to make a play. Find the passing and shooting lanes based on what the defender is doing.
“Some defensemen will overplay the body and have you lined up,” Giesen said. “That’s why we use the term ‘stick on puck’ defensively all the time because, if you’re on me and your stick’s over there, I can still shoot it through your legs or take a step one way and shoot it behind you and use you as a screen.”
Be patient and consider your options.
“Get the goalie moving; get the defense moving,” Giesen said. “Sometimes playing catch on a 2-on-0 or even early on a long 2-on-1 gets them moving” and the defender doesn’t know who to take.
Another option might be to pull up and delay or take a shot off the pad and get a juicy rebound.
Talk to your teammates when you’re on the ice. Communication is the best way to tell your teammates where you are so you can make plays “whether you have the puck or you don’t,” Giesen said. Do this in practice, too, so you get in the habit of doing it in games.
“Say, ‘I’m with you, I’m with you!’ or ‘I’m not with you!’ he said. “The communication piece is one of the biggest things in hockey.”