goalie leave in hockey

Why Does The Goalie Leave In Hockey?


Hockey is an exhilarating sport filled with fast-paced action and strategic maneuvers. One intriguing aspect of the game is when the goalie leaves the net. Many spectators wonder why a team would risk leaving their goal unguarded, but there are several reasons behind this strategic move. 

In this article, we will delve into why the goalie leaves in hockey, exploring the different scenarios, tactics, and benefits associated with this strategy.


Why Does the Goalie Leave in Hockey?

Pulling the Goalie for an Extra Attacker

When a team is trailing in a game and desperate for a goal, the coach may decide to pull the goalie in favor of an extra attacker. This tactic is typically employed during the game’s final minutes when a team needs to close a goal deficit. By removing the goalie, the team gains an additional skater on the ice, increasing their offensive potential and creating more scoring opportunities.


Delayed Penalty Situations

In hockey, when a team commits a penalty, the opposing team is given a power play. However, if the team with the advantage saves another penalty before the whistle is blown, it results in a delayed penalty situation. During this time, the team on the power play has the option to pull their goalie. By doing so, they create a 6-on-5 scenario, maximizing their chances of scoring before the play is stopped.


Last-Ditch Effort in Overtime

Overtime in hockey is an intense period where teams compete to secure a decisive victory. When the game reaches overtime, teams often adopt an aggressive approach to secure a win within the shortened timeframe. As part of this strategy, coaches may choose to remove the goalie in overtime to gain an offensive advantage and increase their chances of scoring the game-winning goal.


Generating a Late Power Play

Occasionally, when a team is trailing by one or two goals in the final minutes of a game, they may choose to remove their goalie to create a late power play opportunity. This risky move involves sacrificing defensive stability in favor of an additional attacker. By pulling the goalie, the team can create a 6-on-4 or even a 6-on-3 scenario if they are able to draw additional penalties from the opposing team. This strategy aims to maximize the offensive pressure and increase the likelihood of a comeback.


Strategic Timeout

During high-pressure moments in a game, coaches may call for a strategic timeout. This pause in play allows the coach to gather the team, discuss tactics, and devise a plan to overcome their opponent. In some cases, coaches may opt to pull the goalie during a strategic timeout to gain a momentary advantage and disrupt the flow of the game. This unexpected move can catch the opposing team off guard, leading to confusion and potential scoring opportunities.

Goalie Leave In Hockey

FAQs About Goalie Leave In Hockey

Is it common for teams to pull their goalie?

Pulling the goalie is not a common occurrence in hockey and is typically reserved for specific situations, such as when a team is trailing and requires an offensive boost.

Are there any risks associated with pulling the goalie?

Yes, pulling the goalie carries inherent risks. With the goalie out of the net, the opposing team has an easier path to scoring an empty-net goal. Additionally, if the team on offense loses possession, they are vulnerable to a quick counter-attack.

Can the goalie re-enter the game after being pulled?

No, once the goalie has been pulled, they cannot re-enter the game unless there is a goaltender injury or special circumstances arise.

How often does pulling the goalie result in a goal?

While pulling the goalie increases the offensive pressure, there is no guarantee of scoring. The success rate depends on various factors, including the skill of the team, the timing of the pull, and the defensive prowess of the opposing team.

Has pulling the goalie ever backfired?

Yes, there have been instances where pulling the goalie has backfired, resulting in an empty-net goal for the opposing team. However, coaches weigh the potential risks and rewards before making this decision.

Are there any alternative strategies to pulling the goalie?

A6: Yes, instead of pulling the goalie, coaches may choose to employ other tactics, such as employing an aggressive forecheck or making strategic line changes to generate offensive pressure.



Understanding why the goalie leave in hockey requires a grasp of the strategic elements involved in the game. Whether it’s pulling the goalie for an extra attacker or utilizing other tactics, coaches employ these strategies to maximize their team’s chances of scoring. While the decision to remove the goalie is not without risks, it can be a game-changer in certain situations. As spectators, appreciating the complexities and calculated risks involved in this strategic move adds to the excitement and drama of the game.

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