In various blogs, we’ve looked at different formats of 3-on-3 hockey (NHL OT, NHL All-Star tournament, Fours Hockey, etc.) and we’ve discussed the importance of transitioning from offense to defense and defense to offense. In this blog, we look at the importance of puck possession.
As strategists become more experienced with 3-on-3 hockey, there is one conclusion that becomes painfully obvious. Simply stated:
3-on-3 hockey is a puck possession game!
I cannot express it more clearly or more concisely. Once you understand this fact, you will appreciate all 3-on-3 play in terms of puck possession.
The team with the puck controls the play. Defenders can pressure, but with so much ice and with added participation of the goaltender, the team with the puck should always be able to move it away from pressure.
The offensive blueline was once a point of concern. Players intuitively (based on their standard 5-on-5 hockey experiences) attempted to keep the puck inside the offensive zone even when pressured. With coaching and through experience, players were “re-programmed” to prioritize puck possession over holding the offensive zone. It’s better to retreat, maintain puck possession and mount a subsequent attack than to risk losing puck possession (turn-over).
Generally speaking, a team with puck possession doesn’t get scored upon. If your team maintains puck possession, you can control the game clock and methodically stage an offensive attack.
(Some find clarity by thinking of it in terms of basketball, without a shot clock and without an over-and-back line. The players can move the ball around the floor, organize team offense and generate a good shot at the basket.)
Philosophically speaking, puck possession should only be risked when shooting to score. Every turn-over, other than those that occur while attempting to score, is a bad play.
Assuming a scoring attempt is unsuccessful and results in a rebound or an otherwise “loose puck”, efforts to re-establish puck possession, while at the same time avoiding a poor transition (offense to defense) should the opponent gain possession, are the priority.
When teams emphasize puck possession, every face-off becomes more critical. Next time you watch overtime hockey, watch for turn-overs and face-off results.