Your Goalie Doesn’t Show Up: Now What?

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your goalie doesn't show up
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What to do when your goalie ghosts the game

By Warren Tabachnick

When your goalie doesn’t show up it should not be cause for panic. Rec hockey is all about fun, camaraderie and the love of the game. But every now and then the unexpected can happen, like your trusty goalie not arriving for the game for whatever reason. When the net is left empty, it’s time for the team to put their heads together and come up with a game plan.

This article explores what to do when your goalie ghosts the game, ensuring your team still has a decent shot at a win—or at least turn a lousy situation into a fun time on the ice.

1. Call in a Sub

The first and most straightforward solution to your missing goalie dilemma is to call upon a substitute netminder. Chances are you have a teammate who has dabbled in playing between the pipes, or someone who is itching for a chance to shine. Many leagues allow skaters to switch roles in such situations, and it can be a great way to solve the problem.

Substitutes may not have the experience of your regular goalie, but they can bring a refreshing and unexpected dynamic to the game. Encourage your substitute goalie to relax, have fun and embrace the unique challenge. It might lead to some unforgettable moments and laughter on the ice.

2. Rotate the Position

If you are in a tight spot and can’t find a substitute goalie, consider rotating the position among your skaters. This can level the playing field, as everyone on the ice will get the chance to experience the pressure and excitement of playing in the crease. (It can also be a great opportunity to appreciate your regular goalie’s skills and dedication.)

Rotate the position every period or even every few minutes, and make sure to keep the lines of communication open with your teammates. Everyone should have a chance to guard the net, and they will likely appreciate the challenge.

We offer one caveat: In many instances, the opposing team may use the opportunity to psyche out the skater that is standing in for the goalie. One such tactic is to wind up and take a shot at the net, as the hapless player without the proper goalie equipment cowers in the crease. Just remember to keep the game light-hearted and fun, as it’s all about enjoying the moment.

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3. Go for the Extra Skater

Another creative approach is to play the game with an extra skater on the ice. This can add an exciting element to the action, as it drastically changes the dynamics of the game. With an extra player, you will need to focus on controlling the puck, maintaining possession and capitalizing on scoring opportunities.

The absence of a goalie means there is more room for your team to make plays, so use it to your advantage. Encourage your team to unleash their offensive creativity. And remember that defense becomes crucial, as any turnover can quickly turn into a scoring chance for the opposing team.

4. Borrow a Goalie from Another Team

The hockey community is often a tight-knit group, and many teams are understanding when it comes to such situations. Sometimes, the goaltender with the team coming off the ice before your game may be looking for some additional ice time. It can be a win-win situation, as it ensures that both teams can enjoy a competitive game.

Make sure to show appreciation to the borrowed goalie by offering them a post-game beverage or extending other courtesies. It’s a great opportunity to build connections with other teams in the league and maintain the spirit of camaraderie.

5. Make It a Skills Competition

If none of the above options is viable, you can transform your hockey game into a skills competition. It’s a fun and entertaining way to make the best of a challenging situation. You can organize a series of competitions, such as a fastest-skater competition, a hardest-shot contest, or a shootout competition.

These skill-based activities can highlight the individual talents of your team members and provide a break from the usual game format.

6. When Your Goalie Doesn’t Show Up, Focus on Sportsmanship

When your goalie doesn’t show up it can be a frustrating experience. But remember that the essence of rec hockey is enjoying the game, regardless of the outcome. Maintain a positive and sportsmanlike attitude, both on and off the ice. Encourage your teammates to do the same, and respect your opponents’ understanding and flexibility in such situations.

In the spirit of good sportsmanship consider organizing a friendly scrimmage, and if your opponent agrees combine your teams to ensure that everyone gets to play.

Finally, rec hockey is about more than just the final score. It’s about the relationships, the love of the game and the memorable moments you share with both your teammates and opponents. When your goalie ghosts the game, it is an opportunity to think creatively and appreciate the flexible and friendly nature of the hockey community.

So the next time your crease is empty, remember these tips and enjoy the unexpected adventure that lies ahead.

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