Pulling Your Goaltender in Hockey

One of the more unique rules in hockey is the ability to pull your goaltender and add an extra skater on the ice. This creates a mock power play situation where your team has the advantage of more potential goal scorers on the ice. There are a few situations in which it is prudent to pull your goaltender for an extra skater, but most are out of desperation. Here is a guide to pulling your goaltender in hockey.

The first coach to pull their goaltender in an NHL game was Art Ross in the 1931 Stanley Cup Semifinal against the Montreal Canadiens. Art Ross’ Bruins were down 1-0 with 40 seconds left to play when he pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they were unable to capitalize on having an extra attacker and the game ended 1-0.

The purpose of pulling your goaltender is very simple. It adds an extra skater, usually an attacker, to your team, which gives you an advantage in numbers against your opposition. It is usually an offensive move, a last ditch attempt to score a goal at the end of a game. Here are the two scenarios in which teams most often pull their goaltenders:

About to lose at the end of the game. A team will often pull their goaltender when they are losing by one goal with anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds left. The Chicago Blackhawks pulled their goaltender with 90 seconds to play when they were down 2-1. They managed to score to tie the game, and then scored again 17 seconds later to beat the Bruins 3-2 to clinch the Stanley Cup.

On a delayed penalty call. When the other team commits a penalty, the referee does not whistle until that team regains the puck. Therefore, the team who committed the penalty would not be able to get a shot off on goal once regaining possession. The opposing team can pull their goalkeeper and have an extra attacker on the ice and not have to worry about being scored on until the other team regains possession.

Pulling your goaltender in hockey can work to your advantage, as it did for the Blackhawks in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup. It also opens your team up to the possibility of getting scored on if you lose the puck. Make sure you practice extra attacker scenarios if you attempt this in a game.