Want to win more games? Reduce goals against.

Don’t Seagull In Beer League Hockey

What is Seagulling?

Seagulling happens when one player on your team leaves your end well before the puck in order to get a breakaway pass that leads to a goal. It is a terrible tactic.

Don't be a hockey seagull

A seagull squawking for a pass

If you have a defenceman who can make long, tape to tape stretch passes as well as a forward who can receive those passes and put it in the net consistently then go ahead and seagull.

Of course, if you have that combination of guys and it’s working for you then you don’t need to read this. You’re playing teams that are weaker than you are and that don’t know how to defend against seagulls.

That said, seagulls have no legitimate place in beer league hockey. Even the teams that win by sea-gulling are easy pickings for most teams.

Here’s why:

  • when someone seagulls in hope of getting a stretch pass they leave your team out-manned in your end;
  • the longer you are out-manned the more chances your opponent gets to score;
  • it’s unlikely that the guy sea-gulling is going to score enough to balance out the goals he gives up by his absence.

Why Defending Against a Beer League Hockey Seagull is Easy and Productive

Most beer league seagulls

  • aren’t fast skaters
  • and

  • aren’t particularly good puck handlers.

They’re generally trying to trick you by sneaking behind your D-men. They realize they can’t beat your team with speed or skill, which is why they try to trick you.

Additionally, most beer league D-men

  • aren’t great passers,
  • especially when they are under pressure because they’re outnumbered in their end.

Watch for it and you’ll see it. The other team’s forecheckers pressure your D-man so much he tries the desperation stretch outlet to the seagull. The other team knocks the puck down and renews their attack, maybe even scoring. The seagull then complains that the D-man can’t pass.

If the seagull isn’t a skating threat (if he was he wouldn’t have to seagull) the appropriate D-man can position himself between the seagull and the play. He can knock down or deflect any pass that comes his way, or simply keep the seagull from getting the pass.
That’s all you need to effectively defend against a seagull.

The results are either

  • a loose puck in your own end with only one attacker (the seagull)pressuring the D-man,
  • an icing call against the seagull’s team,or,
  • a turnover.

None of those hurt you, and none of those help the seagull’s team much (they can ice the puck five on five, after all).

Even better, if you keep a D-man watching the seagull, and pressure the defenders at the same time, there’s a great chance that the other team will cough up the puck (if they’re lucky enough to get it) to one of your players while still in their end. This increases your scoring chances.

A seagull is not the same as a good skating and pass receiving forward paired up with a good passing defenceman. A good skating forward stays in the play in his own end until his D-man gets possession, then breaks out quickly and grabs the pass. A seagull floats around outside his own end while his team-mates play 4 on 5.

Look At It From a Defender’s Point of View

If the path to success in beer league is to reduce the other team’s scoring chances then it’s clear that getting the puck out of your end is one of the primary team goals. This is harder to do 4 against 5 than it is to do 5 on 5.

Hockey is a team sport. The forward’s job in your own end is to reduce the amount of time both teams spend in your end. Your wingers must cover their point men, and your center must help your D-men. A forward who abandons his job in your end in order to gamble on getting a goal is being irresponsible. He’s also making a poor gamble with poor payoff prospects. Think about it and decide what you’d rather have: a power play or a chance to make 1 stretch pass? The fact is, when a player seagulls he’s giving the other team a power play. That increases their scoring chances.

Don’t Seagull!

The theme of BeerLeagueHockeyCoach is to reduce goals against. That’s done by, in part, by:

  • playing 5 on 5 in your end
  • not giving up odd man advantages
  • covering the points
  • having the center work with the D-men

Sea-gulling is the exact opposite of this.

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