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Three-On-Two Attacks

Three-on-Two Attacks

Excerpt From: Hockey Plays and Strategies

When you catch the opposition in a three on two, you should be able to generate a scoring chance. Although obviously not as good as a two on one, it is still a great offensive opportunity. Because three players are involved in the attack, several options are available to create that great chance. Teams should practice and utilize all four attack options: the high triangle, the midlane drive, the triple drive, and the drive and delay.



Let’s start with the traditional option. Most often in three on two situation, the attacking team wants to force the defenders to play man on man with one player and isolate the other defender two on one. F1 drives wide with the puck, and F3 drives wide without the puck. F2 now trails, looking for a pass for F1 (figure 3.16). The options available for F1 are to pass to F3, to shoot and create a rebound for F3, or to pass back to F2 for a shot from the high slot. They key read for F1 is whether the opposing defenseman goes with F3 on the wide drive. This will give an indication of what is open.

Figure 3.16



A three on two entry with a midlane drive gives the puck carrier even more options. Before entering the offensive zone, players should get the puck to the outside of the ice (figure 3.17). Because the two defenders must respect the outmanned situation they find themselves in, their tendency is to back off and allow the entry. Once the puck is to one side or the other, the middle attacking player drives hard toward the net. F2 drives through the mid-ice seam on the inside shoulder of D2. This is the moment defenders get confused and make mistakes. Because the middle player (F2) is seen as attacking the net and has position to do so, D2 has to vacate the prime scoring are. The middle drive completely neutralizes that defender’s ability to get involved in what now has turned into a two on one. The far-side winger (F3) moves into the middle-ice shooting area closer to the player with the puck. F1 now has the option of driving and shooting, with F2 going to the net; passing through to F2 for a tip or chance to shoot; or passing to F3 for a high slot shot. This attack allows the potential shot to come from the perfect scoring area and also forces the goaltender to look through the screen provided by F2.

Figure 3.17



In a variation of the midlane drive three on two, all three players initially drive deep (figure 3.18). The puck carrier (F1) takes the puck wide with lots of speed. The middle-ice attacker (F2) continues to drive to the net. This time instead of posting up, F3 attacks the net. The player with the puck (F1) presses hard toward the net, driving outside the near defender, and then immediately cuts hard inside. This creates separation and a chance to make a variety of players or take a shot against the grain from the prime scoring area. It is important that F2 and F3 drive hard to allow F1 more space to work with. If F1 is skating down his off side (left hand shot skating down the right wing), he will be in a better position to shoot and make a play because he will have the puck on the forehand.

Figure 3.18



In the world of hockey, as in most sports, speed kills. Outside offensive zone speed has a tendency to back off defenders, and this is where our next offensive zone entry tactic works wonders. The player driving outside with the puck looks as if he will drive the puck hard toward the net, but then just at the right moment, this player pivots or tight turns (always to the outside or away from the defender) and skates back toward the blue line (figure 3.19). This delay creates what every hockey player wants: time and space to make the next move. Initially, the defender will have to give space because he is afraid of the deep drive, and as a result it will take a second or two to react to the delay.

A couple of teaching keys allow this excellent offensive tactic to work. The outside drive player (F1) must “sell” the drive to the net. The perfect time to turn up is when the offensive player is level with or forcing the defender to pivot toward the offensive player. Today’s high-speed, high pace game gives players with the puck very little time to make good plays. This is where creating offensive gaps between the player with the puck and the defenders are critical. Wayne Gretzky, an amazing player, scored a very high percentage of his goals off this tactic of driving, pivoting, gaining middle ice, and shooting.

Figure 3.19



A wrinkle in this outside drive play is being executed often at the NHL level. As the middle drive offensive player (F2) drives toward the net, he doesn’t stay in front of the net but pulls away and finds a shooting “soft spot” (not in the middle of the slot) toward the side of the net where the player with the puck (F1) is turning (figure 3.20). As F1 turns back up ice he makes a quick inside pass to F2.

This is a very effective play off the rush because it drives the defender to the net and then creates separation from this defender, who is reluctant to leave the front of the net. Rush plays like the press and pull are effective because of their drive north and then pull south effect. This play obviously creates better shots (sometimes one-timers) as the drive-and-pull offensive player pulls off on his shooting side (it is much tougher to have impact off the backhand).

Figure 3.20

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