On the offensive side of the puck, players have a lot of freedom. Aside from keeping a forward high at all times in case of a turnover, there’s not really a set of rules – just find a way to get the biscuit in the basket.

There is one scenario, however, where there’s a script: the 3-on-2.

Everybody wants to be the high guy. He doesn’t have to skate as hard, doesn’t get involved in any contact, and likely gets the puck in the slot for a shot.

Laziness and glory? Yes please.

In rec hockey, it’s a battle. Nobody goes to the damn net. You just float in three abreast, and wait to turn the puck over.

Mid. Lane. Drive. – somebody’s gotta bite the bullet here, guys.

Players are taught to move the puck out wide, have the guy in the middle be the workhorse and charge through to the net - the other forward wins, and gets to be the high guy. (Note that “high” doesn’t necessarily mean he helps the trio form an equilateral triangle. Just gotta find that soft spot.)

The reasons it should (almost) always happen this way are pretty clear: first off, if the defenseman doesn’t go with the middle guy who’s heading for the net, he’s got a short breakaway. You just make the easy pass to him behind the d-man’s wheels.

But he will go with him for the reason just mentioned, so you’ve pushed back at least one d-man, leaving room for the high guy when he inevitably gets the puck.

The other defenseman can’t cover two guys, so he won’t commit to either guy until it’s getting close to the forward’s “shot or pass” decision time.

Some coaches will encourage both forwards without the puck to drive the net (and for a shot from the puck carrier), because they’re idiots and North American coaches adore dumbing down the game for our players. (We play the game the “right” way, grrr!)

But, this is the rare scenario where I feel like one of those coaches, because executing this right is pretty well undefendable. It makes sense to stick with simplicity here. I don’t think I can tolerate my rec hockey teammates refusing to go through to the net for another shift.

Even if the d-man pressures the puck carrier early, he can slide the puck under his stick to the mid-lane drive guy and you have a 2-on-1 (which I’ve written about how to defend here, albeit somewhat controversially).

It’s the most basic, effective script in hockey if you can count on that one guy. Just because you may not get on the score sheet doesn’t mean you didn’t help your team score.

Comments (7)

  1. Ugh. My team needed this last night. Toughest thing about rec hockey – no practice time. So you have to hope players can pick this up and just do it. Reality – not happening.

  2. on a 3-2 rush what about applying your 2-1 d strategy?

    Have the d closest to the puck carrier force the play, take away time and space. If a forward drives the net, have the weak side D go with him. Sure that leaves an easier situation for the high guy to find a soft spot, but according to your 2-1 philosophy this would work its essentially a mini 2-1.

    If there is no net drive have the weak side D slide to the middle to reduce soft spots.

  3. @skennedy39 – That’s a good point – I’m sure if there was just the odd “hey if we just do this we’ll score more and win more and have more fun” practice session most guys would pick it up.

  4. In my leagues, theres 3 ways to be everybody’s favorite teammate:
    1) drive the net, dig the corners, and passPassPASS to a shooter (defined as everyone else);
    2) play goal; or
    3) be a stay at home defenseman and show up for every game.

    I’m lazy so I go for Door #3.

  5. Hey Justin,

    Excellent articles on rec league pointers… I have been copying and pasting into group emails to the team. Im playing on a team mixed with former Junior players and guys who never played organized hockey so these basics sure come in handy for the newbs. Can you PLEASE put together an article on puck movement out of the zone and the importance of D putting their head up to take a look where they are launching the puck… we have a horrible time exiting the zones because our D lack Lidstrom-like vision and resort to the ring around every chance they get… or just aren’t talented enough to make a pass over 40 ft. haha. Thanks

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