What is Pulling the Goalie in Hockey?

what is pulling the goalie in hockey

Last updated on November 3rd, 2023 at 03:59 pm

During the final minute or so of a close hockey game, one team might pull their goalie to add an extra skater on offense. That might appear odd because pulling a goalie leaves an empty net, which means there is a strong chance of scoring for the other team. 


If a trailing team decides to pull their goalie, they should perform that late in the third period. Pulling the goalie in the first or second period does not make sense because you still have at least another period to score goals. The concept of pulling a goalie late in the third period means you are going all-in with another offensive player to score.


Generally speaking, a team should pull the goalie when the offensive team has the puck and makes it up the ice with a minute or so left in the clock. Having the puck means that the squad on the ice only needs to focus on scoring, and the extra player can increase the chance of scoring. Teams practice these drills in practice, so pulling the goalie with a minute or so left in regulation can give the ice hockey team enough time to run a play to score.


What about Pulling Your Goalie During a Delayed Penalty?

what about pulling your goalie during a delayed penalty

Teams pull their goalie during a delayed penalty often. Since the delayed penalty means that the play is over once the opposing team regains possession of the puck, coaches swap out their goalie for a hockey player on the ice to try and score. You don’t have much to lose by swapping on your goalie when this delayed penalty occurs.


Does the Goalie Need to Signal Anything?

If a goalie is going to leave their net, they need to raise their arm to then skate to the sideline. Raising the arm signals that they are leaving their post and that another skater is coming on the ice to take their place.


What Happens After the Goalie is Removed from their Net?

You now have an additional offensive player on the ice to score by removing a goalie from the game. If there are no penalty minutes, you will have an even six on six-match. By eliminating the goalie, you have seven offensive players against five defensive players and one goalie. Having this mismatch is similar to a power-play moment.


How Effective is Pulling the Goalie During a Hockey Game?

how effective is pulling the goalie during a hockey game

During the 2019 – 2020 season, teams scored 14.5% when removing the goalie from the net during a one-goal deficit. The previous year was also 14.5% and the year before that was 15%. A success rate from Hockey-Graphs represents either tying the game or moving the match to overtime with a goal.


How Does this Compare to a Power Play Success Rate?

When you compare that to a power play in hockey during the 2018-2019 season, the success rate was 19.7%. One reason why a power play is more successful is due to the circumstance of the moment. A traditional power play is two minutes long while pulling the goalie might be with only one minute left.


Any Success Pulling the Goalie in the Stanley Cup?

While pulling the goalie during a regular-season NHL game might be stressful, imagine pulling your goalie during the Stanley Cup playoffs! Back in 2008, the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Detroit Red Wings did just that. In the third period, the Penguins pulled their goalie during game five while facing elimination with a minute left to try and tie the game. What made this moment so special was that the Pittsburgh Penguins scored, which made the strategy pay off well.


What Happens if Another Team Scores Against Your Empty Net?

A goalie pull leaves the net wide open for the other team to score without anyone blocking the net. If a team scores, they achieve an empty-net goal since there is no goalie. Sometimes, you will see another team score an empty-net goal if they can steal a pass and shoot the puck from a long distance or skate up to the net and casually shoot it into the net.

What Happens if You Score on Your Own Empty Net?

Believe it or not, there are instances where a team accidentally scores on their empty net. One example is if the team is passing the puck around the ice and one of their players misses the pass, and it glides into the empty net. If that happens, the opposing team scores, and the last person on the defense who contacted the puck receives scoring credit.


Can a Goalie Come Back After Being Pulled?

can a goalie come back after being pulled

A goaltender can come back to guard the net after being pulled. One way a goalie can come back is if their team scores with time left on the clock. Since a score requires a new faceoff, you will see teams put their goalie back to the guard of the net for the remainder of the clock’s time.


Conclusion: What is Pulling the Goalie in Hockey?

In summary, pulling the hockey goalie during the last minute or so gives your team an extra man advantage to score. The success rate in the 2019-2020 NHL season was 14.5%, so there is data behind the move that it can work. Not only does the move work a handful of times, but hockey fans find this play incredibly exciting. The end of the game, where one team is putting everything on the line, makes hockey magical.


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