3 on 3 hockey – blazing fun,  but how to play it well? 

In hockey today,  3 on 3 is all the rage. From youth Mites to the NHL overtime contests, and now to your old-timers’ beer league, the trend is clear.  3 on 3 gives players more touches,  more ice, more scoring chances, and a major workout in less time. And it’s a flat-out blast to play.

A big part of the allure of 3-on-3 is its emphasis on playmaking and creativity.  Think pick-up hoops, streetball action, on ice,  with the minimum bit of structure, the good essentials of hockey  in rinks.

Once you do get your team playing, the question arises of how you are supposed to play as a team on the ice.  We’ve all been taught the do’s and don’ts  of positional play for 5 on 5, but not 3 on 3. However, just going with the flow,  when you are matched up with a comparable team that is outplaying you, does not cut it.

So what are the stripped-down strategies and tactics that work best for teams and players to cover the ice and compete best in 3-on 3 hockey?

On strategy and tactics, below are a few insights and  links I found in my first look into this on the Internet.  Oddly, however,  these sources appeared a bit dated,  from around 2011. Our  studio rink in Madison,  Wisconsin being on the small end of 3-on-3; some of the positional schemes may not work, though designating a D-man is interesting. But I found the individual strategies and team tactics dispensed most relevant:

1. It is not 3 on 3, it is 1 on 1 three times

2. If your team doesn’t have the puck, take a man

3. When your team gets the puck, escape the man

4. Forecheck aggressively in 0-zone on the puck and the puckcarrier






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