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Studying Hockey Systems for Goaltending : 5 on 3 (2)

Studying Hockey Systems for Goaltending : 5 on 3 (2)

Today we continue the series of articles from coach Hiroki Wakabayashi. Too often young goaltenders think their world begins and ends in the blue paint, learning all the intricate details of our position while assuming the rest of the team game holds little value to them. In this series we focus on the team game and how the systems employed by opposing teams can have an effect on how a goaltender reads, prepares for and ultimately handles scoring threats.

Keys to play against 5 on 3 situations

  1. Know the shooter and conserve your movements
    As discussed above, every power play unit has the primary shooter. No matter how they move the puck around, it often goes to the primary shooter eventually. Therefore, identifying the primary shooter helps you to read and get ready for the shot. You should play inside of the crease against 5 on 3 power play to conserve your movement and catch up with the tempo. As you see the puck gets to the primary shooter, you might want to come out slightly.
    Here, the goalie played inside of the crease in whole sequence, moved across the crease for lateral pass, then regain his position in order to make a big glove save against the point shot from the middle lane. Well controlled movement against the primary threat (middle point) and the secondary option (pass).
  2. Be patient
    You can not over-commit to one shooting or passing option. Do not lock in to VH, RVH or any other position before the shot or pass. Wait till the last second to see the puck comes of the stick and react properly.
  3. Fight to find the puck through the screen
    You can not be passive and slow to find the puck behind the screen. Move your head side to side or up and down to find the puck through the traffic.
  4. Control the rebound
    Catch, trap or cover every possible shot and rebound to get a whistle. Also try to direct the rebound to corners with your stick if the shot finds your toe.
    Here, the goalie fought very hard to track the puck behind heavy traffic, slid back to the right post to potential shot but NOT TO GET LOCKED fully into blocking butterfly so he could slide across the crease for the huge glove save without a rebound.
  5. Be athletic but keep in control
    Playing against 5 on 3 is very difficult to be technically perfect because the shooters have the luxury to wait for the defensive flaws before they commit to shoot. Sometimes you just need to throw a part of your body towards the shot to make the save. Don’t give up and be athletic even in desperate situations.
    However, staying inside of the crease is still important to maintain the control of your body. For super quick backdoor plays, stretch your pad against the post to seal the bottom part of the net so you can cover the most important part of the net, at least.
    Below are the examples of athletic/desperate saves in 5 on 3 situations. All are great saves against grade A scoring chances. You could also find some technical flaws such as losing balance around the post or pure accidents as dropping stick in the sequences which forced the goalies to be desperate at last.Here the goalie was little too much on the far side when the shooter winded up for the shot. Therefore, the shooter faked the shot and moved the puck to the backdoor. The goalie was already down for the faked shot so he had no choice but to stretch his left pad towards the post.

    Below the goalie lost his stick accidentally on the first save but he recovered quick enough to slide across for the second save. Then he was almost locked into VH position on the left post but managed to stretch out for the one-timer from the slot.

    Here the shooter fanned on the one-timer and the puck ended up going to the backdoor slowly. This upset the goalie’s timing badly so he had no choice but sliding halfway and stretching his left pad out as much as he could to make the highlight reel save.

About The Author

Hiroki Wakabayashi

Hiroki Wakabayashi is a USA level 5 certified hockey coach from Japan. Hiroki has coached goalies and teams in Japan, Canada, USA and five other countries in last twenty years. His work varies from professional teams, national teams (Hong Kong), Junior and NHL drafted goalies to youth hockey level. Heroki is currently working with Arizona Jr. Coyotes.


  1. Paul Ipolito

    I know you have to make money but having to watch dumb-ass ads before seeing a video clip makes this a useless article.

    • Kevin Woodley

      Um, those are embedded NHL videos and NHL ads; InGoal does not make a penny from them. But taking that video and extracting it from the League’s video player and then hosting it without ads is a violation of their copyright rules and we are an accredited media outlet with photographers and writers that rely on access to the NHL

      • Paul Ipolito

        Happy Canada Day and thank you for the explanation. I understand what you are saying but the videos really kill the flow of what should be a very informative article. Perhaps there is another source to obtain examples from? Thank you and kindest regards.

  2. jpd

    Nice, every clip had a 30 second commercial in front of it.

    Not worth watching.

    • David Hutchison’s commercials. Sorry, we have no control over those.