Hockey Goaltending (part 6 of 6)

6. Tactics


Gap Control is about matching the shooter’ speed and controlling the space between himself and the shooter. … If the shooter gets too close to you, he can make a move in tight and get around you. … if there is too much space between you and the shooter, the shooter will be able to see larger portions of exposed net.

  • Wait out the shooter
  • The best shooting position on the ice is the slot. the best defense for a goaltender against a shot from the slot is to be at the top of the blue paint. Use the gauge as a starting point for gap control and match the opposition’s speed from there.
  • Be patient and control your timing

To maintain gap control, … let your momentum carry you forward – more like drifting forward. … The same goes for backward movement. Simply transfer your weight, release your feet backward, and allow yourself to drift.

Types of Breakaways

Straight-On Breakaway. When the shooter gets to the slot, the goaltender needs to be at the top of the paint. … You need to keep your stick lined up on the puck and face the blade of your stick at the puck. … Wherever the puck goes, your stick goes.

Is he going to shoot or is he deking? If the puck is in front of the shooter, he is in a position where he can’t shoot, so prepare to play the deke. If the puck is beside the shooter, he is a position to shoot but can still bring the puck in front of himself to deke you. If the player chooses to shoot, it is essential that you close the five-hole as quickly as possible.

If the player dekes, … move into a butterfly slide to follow the shooter to either side. Make sure you have enough backward momentum to enable yourself to slide to either post to make the save.

Breakaway From The Wing. The same principles that apply to the straight-on breakaway, except the shooter will be more prone to deke the goaltender. It is important for you to be aware of whether the shooter shoots right or left handed.

On a breakaway from the side, you will need more backward momentum and speed so you can get fully across your crease to the opposite post.

Short Breakaways. If the puck is turned over allowing the opposition a breakaway in tight, … move out, hold your position, and make a quick read on whether the shooter is going to shoot or deke.


Keep your head over the puck and your shoulders forward to cover the vertical angles. … (take away space from the top half of the net). … You then release back with enough momentum to move to either post with the shooter.

Poke Check. There are situations when you catch a player with his head down, providing an opportunity to kick the puck off his stick. … If you fully extend your arm and miss the puck, … you are completely committed and exposed. … Instead, use the nonextending poke check; move your forearm forward and jab at the puck with a quick motion without extending your hand up the shaft of the stick.

Defending Penalty Shots. You need to maintain good balance and be patient to try to determine what the shooter is going to do. … really it is about the shooter’s edge control and the rate at which he changes speeds to throw off your gap control.

Power Play

You will want to play a little deeper in the crease and wait for the play to develop rather than being overly aggressive. … You need to be aware of where all the opposing players are on the ice.

When the opposition’s intention is to get the puck moving east to west in an attempt to get you moving laterally. You want to play a little deeper; it is easier to move laterally because there are no opposing players or teammates to impede your movements. … You need to be aware of the backdoor player so you can make a read on the play and determine the best way to get across in time to make the save. .. If the opposing player is far enough out that you can get across and remain on your feet, then that is the best option for you. However, if the player is positioned closer to the net, you are better off to butterfly slide across so that you are in a save position when you arrive at your destination.

When on the power play, your ability to play the puck can have a large impact on your team’s success.

  • Watch the opposition’s bench … you may be able to play the puck up ice and catch them off guard during a line change
  • Keep an eye on the penalty box. … It is important for you to bang your stick on the ice to signify the end of the penalty to your teammates.


When you find yourself facing a screen … establish your position at the top of the crease early. … Use the hand opposite the side from which you are looking to hold off the player who is screening. Create your space.

Look to the shooter’s stick side as often as possible as long as that is the best viewpoint to locate the puck. … It is best to look around the screen, not over or under it. … Don’t pull yourself out of the middle of the net to see the puck. Don’t look under the screen; use your upper body to look around it.

Often, the opposition player providing the screen actually blocks the shot. .. You must be prepared to move laterally in your butterfly to follow the play.

Tips and Deflections

When the shot comes in, drop into the puck and the opposition’s stick blade at the same time. … Meet the puck at the point of the deflection and collapse your body over it. .. If a deflection is farther out, it is important to hold your position and not back into the net.


Remain down in the butterfly and wait out the battle as it ensues in front. If you see the puck in the crease, don’t dive to try to get it. … Choose net coverage by blocking the lower portion of the net in your butterfly instead of diving around the crease. … Take a lower position … stay physically strong and do not get pushed around.

Plays Off the Rush

One-on-One. The opposing forward has two options. He can either shoot or try to go around the defenseman. … if the opposition forward beats the defenseman wide, a breakaway situation will occur.

  • Don’t let up. … You can be beaten with an unexpected shot.
  • Make sure you have enough backward momentum in case the shooter pulls you across the crease.
  • Make sure you maintain good gap control and do not get caught flatfooted.

Two-on-One. The opposing player has three options: he can shoot to score, shoot it off the goaltender to create a rebound, or pass it to his teammate.

You need to have discussions with your defensemen in practice about how you are going to position yourself in a two-on-one. … You should play slightly stronger to the puck carrier’s side but be ready to play the pass.

You need to hold your ground and be aware of the nonpuck carrier’s position. If the nonpuck carrier is heading back door, then be ready to butterfly slide and take away the pass play. If the puck carrier shoots far side, you are already in a good position to make the save.

  • Maintain your angle on the shooter. If there is a pass option, play a little deeper in your net in preparation for a butterfly slide.
  • Gauge the speed of the opposition skaters early. Know which hand the shooters are.

Two-on-None. You should prepare for multiple passes back and forth. … You will need to play deeper in your net. The faster the play develops, the deeper you need to be in your net.

  • Be patient
  • Stay on your feet as long as possible
  • Read which hand both players shoot with

Three-on-Two. Hold position at the top of the crease. … If the opponents are far and spread out, you need to be able to push out and hold the top of your crease. If one player is going hard to the net and the pass comes across, you will need to butterfly slide to make the save.

Since a three-on-two is a slower developing play than the two-on-one, you can beat the pass by staying on your feet. Communication with your defenseman is key: “I got shot, I got shot.”

  • Stay with the puck carrier; hold the top of the paint as long as you can