Hockey: When is the Right Time to Pull the Goaltender?

In the game of hockey, we have many different plays. Coaches will put in certain players to try and score goals or stop the other team from scoring. The question is when the right time is to do these moves. As a long time, hockey fan, the biggest question is when the right time is to pull the goaltender? Coaches must decide when it is the right time because if they do it too early or too late it could be costly. Let me give some examples of when it is right and wrong to pull your goalie.

One of the games that come to mind when the goalie should have been pulled but wasn’t. In the 1980 Olympics, the United States was playing the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was at the time considered the best team in the world. Late in their semifinal game, the Soviet Union trailed 3-2. As the time ticked down most coaches would pull their goaltender to get an extra attacker. The head coach of the Soviet Union, Viktor Tikhonov didn’t know what to do.

He had rarely been in that position. So, he didn’t pull his goaltender. The United States pulled off one of the greatest upset in all of the sports. They would go on to win the gold medal. The Soviet Union would win the silver medal. If Tikhonov had pulled his goalie maybe the Soviet’s tie the game and continue their dominance. That didn’t happen and the United States went on to become a world dominance in hockey.

I worked with a former AHL goaltender. He told his son, who is a college coach and loves to pull his goaltender, to do it with 10 minutes left in a period. Many people will say that he is crazy. He does that to put the other team on surprise. His opponents at times don’t know how to react. His team has scored many goals when this happens.

Pulling your goaltender is up to the coach. I believe it depends on the moment. In some cases, the coach will do it when he needs a goal. Some coaches don’t know when to do it. There have been so exciting moments when it does happen. On the other hand, it sometimes has backfired. Let us sit back and when it happens let’s hold our breaths.

Do you agree when it is the right time to pull the goaltender? Leave a comment below.
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