In 2015, when the NHL went from 4-on-4 overtime to 3-on-3, it’s safe to say that nobody knew what to expect. The rule was meant to speed up the game in hopes that non-hockey plays, like a shootout, wouldn’t be a deciding factor for teams taking home points. Now, the NHL has found a sweet spot, and the game of hockey is better for it. For coaches, the anxiety of a potential shootout evaporated. For players, doubling the amount of overall puck touches and seizing the right opportunities only helps with development.
The National Sports Center created The Rush, a 3-on-3 cross-ice hockey tournament, that takes place at the Super Rink on President’s Day when kids are out of school.
The Rush will emphasize a fast pace-of-play environment for kids ages 6-10 years old. Players will thrive on pure skill, creativity and play making.
Why 3-on-3? Small area drills and games are utilized by coaches at all levels of hockey. Splitting a rink into thirds allows for more shots, critical decision making and more opportunities for everyone involved.
Wes Walz’s Minnesota Wild Hockey School will offer a week-long camp in five locations with 13+ hours of on-ice training, including multiple 3-on-3 games to teach hockey concepts, led by a professional staff.
Wes Walz, Minnesota Wild‘s all-time leader in short-handed goals, gives 10 reasons why 3-on-3 hockey is beneficial for youth hockey development:
- IT’S FUN
- Players learn how maneuver in tight spaces while having good puck control
- Shots per player increases by six times
- Goalies see over double the amount of shots
- Players learn team hockey concepts in a competitive environment
- Pass attempts per player increases
- There is a constant change in direction
- Quicker game play
- Players learn to play without the puck
- It forces quick decision making
The concept of playing 3-on-3 hockey and small area games began long before the NHL decided to change their overtime rules. Players around Minnesota have their first playing experience outside, on the pond, with their family and friends. Nowadays, coaches are using 3-on-3 and small area games as a regular teaching tool in their practices.
USA Hockey encourages all hockey players to play more small area games like 3-on-3. Players across the state can participate in The Rush and the Wes Walz Minnesota Wild Hockey School to have an opportunity to get more shots on goal, learn how to pass effectively, get open and benefit from playing in tight areas.