1. Communicate with your fellow skaters; both before, during, and after the play! If you're going to pinch in in the offensive zone, make sure you know the winger/center will drop back to cover your spot. Too many times I see the D pinch in and suddenly there's a 3-on-1 coming my way, because there were four of my players deep in their zone.
2. Communicate with the goalie, too, on a few things.
2a. Shots. Some goalies prefer that defencemen try and get in front of the shooter and block the shot with their skates/shin pads/stick. Some goalies prefer that the defenceman get out of the way so they have a clear line of sight. I'm the latter -- I like to have an unobstructed view of the puck. I watch cues that the shooter gives (eyes, body, stick positioning, blade angle, etc.) to get an idea of where the shot is going. I tell this to my D, but still have guys screen me, or try to "stop" the puck with their stick but end up deflecting it in from 5 - 10 feet out.
2b. Passing / dump-ins. Have some method of on-the-fly communication, whether by voice or by gestures. On dump-ins, I signal with my trapper where I'm going to leave or pass the puck, so my defence generally knows where to go. Whenever I sub for a different team, I still gesture but it always seems like a crapshoot whether or not they know where I'm leaving the puck. Maybe 1/3 of the time they skate the wrong way and leave the puck for an opponent to pick up.
3. Skate back! This has been said, but needs repeating. If you gave up the puck and there's a breakaway, don't stand and watch. Come back and, if you can't take the guy out, at least be ready to clear the rebound. There's about a 50/50 chance I make the initial save on the breakaway, but if I leave a rebound the guy often has a second, easy shot if you're not there to stop him.
It's sad but true...the C-level guys tend to be better but don't go all out and play dirty. The D-level guys are usually working a lot harder but not as good and take dumb penalties. But the beginner levels are kind of sad...bad skating and playing and there's usually a couple guys who think they are goons running around making really bad hits.
Don't stop moving (especially in the offensive zone)
Don't just stare at the puck in the defensive zone. Always keep your head on a swivel so you are covering your man. Losing track of your man for even 2 or 3 seconds can be the difference between a goal and saving a goal.
be PATIENT with the puck...take a look before you pass or decide to just shoot it down the ice.
This is something I tell everyone that I play with. New players tend to be so concerned about messing up that their first instinct is to just get rid of the puck as soon as they get possession to insure that they don't make a mistake that leads to a scoring chance. The problem is that just ripping the puck down the ice is almost always the wrong play, and often just as damaging as the turnover that might have happened if you had held onto the puck.
The league I play in now has 8 skill levels, and I have played in all of them. It's amazing how much easier the game gets at the higher levels, solely because the passing is so much better. Trying to chase down pucks that are just cleared down the ice gets very tiring and frustrating, and the person that just clears it is doing nothing to improve their vision and passing ability.
One other thing that I would add is - don't be afraid to ask questions. If you think you did something wrong, or you see a player doing something good that you don't know how to do, ask them how to do it. Your teammates will appreciate your open-mindedness and desire to get better.
heres tips I would give my team (and I do, but they dont listen)
1) stop stickhandling through 3 guys. it didnt work the first twenty times, so knock it off and pass the puck.
2) wingers...cover your point! you guys keep dropping down so low and leaving the points to come into the high slot and score every time. stop it.
3) if your line is off, so should you be. Theres no reason why the line 2 guy has to sit because you didn't want to get off.
4) during the line up to shake hands after a game, if I ever catch you leaving the rink you're not playing again.
5) seriously, pick up nhl 10, make a be a pro and play it. follow the arrows. it wont help your stick handling and it wont help your shot but it WILL show you where youre supposed to be
Be patient with the puck - don't just wrap it around the boards to get it out of your zone
Short shifts - many goals i see are given up when people are staying out there for too long
Cover your points - goalies in most leagues let in a lot of goals from tip ins or bad (rather, lack of) rebound control. if you can prevent the other teams d from shooting it'll help you and your team out a lot.
Skate hard - so many times you see the opposing teams give away the puck because there is pressure being applied to them - may be the other team just dumping the puck with a winger on them rather than carrying it in or coughing the puck up when you forcheck
The biggest mistake you can make in beer league is taking it too seriously. It is suppose to be fun, not the minor pros.
I read the other posts that quote this, and they are pretty true, some guys think that the local team scouts these rec games ( at least it seemed that some guys did in KC in the 90's) ... and it was a beginner league... completely nuts...
*but* - you know I also heard this exact thing: "It's Senior C..." down here in the Sydney area --- where they ream you for about $1000 to play in 20 games (which you also have to pay $15 or so to play -for the ice time).... and you get "games" where the entire team chases after the fricking puck. . . sorry, but if I am playing in a league I am at least expecting some sort of rudimentary coaching ... I know full well that this does not apply to every team down here - or even up there in North America... (I'd played in drop in's at Line Creek in KC that were far more organized than the club team I played in in northwest Sydney).
My point is -- that the attitude presented can have a double edged effect ... it also rationalizes the "I'm a hero.... I'm going in 1 on 5 and never pass... because I'm the hero" attitude -- the same one that rationalizes defensemen pinching in and winding up behind the offensive zone goal line....
Man I miss the mid week semi-drop in sessions in KC (despite whatever I have ever posted about the NHL not fitting in -in that town, it is a great place to play rec league hockey... well it beats hell out of Ice Hockey New South Wales.
Writing from the perspective of somebody who plays D.
1. Use your D partner. If there is nothing up the ice don't be afraid to swing it to the other side of the rink.
2. D Partner give the puck carrying Dman an option.
3. Forwards in the defensive zone. Your main job is to cover the points. Hang in a few feet from them but not to deep into your own zone otherwise your in a dead zone where if the puck comes out the D is wide open and you also aren't doing anything from preventing the other team from cycling out front.
4. Forwards spread out instead of bunching towards center ice when transitioning. Give your D somewhere to pass
5. Learn how to angle the puck off the boards so it bounces to where you think the player will be.
6. If you have nothing in the offensive zone just take a low hard shot on net. Goalies at that level generally give out good rebounds to bang in.
As for my tip, I've been trying to adjust to winger and the best thing I've found to do so far is set a "default" path for faceoffs. Someone mentioned something similar to this earlier in the thread, but I feel it's important to not wait to see what happens and then decided what to do, but rather know what you're going to do pretty much no matter what. As soon as you see the puck hit the ice, you burst as hard as you can along your default path.
For example, on any given faceoff (aside from the defensive zone and faceoffs where I am lined up in the slot and drive to the net) I drive to the faceoff dot or aim for the opposing centre's rear end. This helps my team gain control of faceoffs where neither of the centres win it clean (this happens pretty often in my league) and create quick chances when the other team isn't perfectly set yet. If it is a clean win for either side, I'm generally headed in the right direction anyways. In the defensive zone, of course, you're supposed to head for the point.
This helps me avoid standing around on faceoffs, and when I know what I am going to do as soon as the puck drops, I often get the jump on guys. This is also a good way to draw penalties, since whoever supposed to be covering you probably isn't ready for this in a beer league type setting.
This why I always stress LEARN TO SKATE FIRST!!!!
Can you imagine learning and remembering all that and learning to skate at the same time???
Well, all that stuff is pretty basic. Just go through the list and say to yourself, can I do this one? Can I do that one? Then the ones that you can't do, highlight and then work on them. The other that you can do...don't worry, skip over those because you can do them. Every time you get on the ice, try something new...or not.
But the original poster did ask what you can and can't do, he asked for tips. So there they are. Oh, I pretty sure there are more, it just stuff that I quickly listed off my head. I pretty sure that is I stop and think about it, I could add more for you.
But you can sign up on my site and get all of this stuff for free as well. Yes, I know, shameless plug. It's just that I have been doing the site now for over 11 years and it has a lot of stuff you can use if you want...or not!
Yes, beer league is suppose to be fun. But it also becomes fun when you learn new things.
Dump and chase. Most beer league guys can skate a lot faster without the puck.
I disagree 100%. Here is why.
Most beer leaguers are not in 100% cardio shape. Dumping the puck is a way to chase after a free puck that you probably will not get, then the rest of your shift you will be useless. In my mind, at this level, it is all about puck possession. If you have the puck, do not give it up. Dumping=turnover when you have no legs.
-On a transition zone rush, the guy with the puck crosses the blue THEN makes his play/pass. Avoids offsides from bad communication with guys you may have never played with before.
-Defensemen, STOP wrapping the puck blindly around the boards in the defensive end. This is the weakest of all breakouts. Lift your head and look. There are better outlet passes.
-Forwards, give the defensemen passing options. Do not stay behind a checker, move to free ice.
-Play hard, be involved, always be in a position to receive the puck or fight for it when it is near.
-when the whistle blows, the play and the emotions are dead. No cheapshotting. Play hard when the puck is in play, not after the whistle.
-play with guys you like. Have fun. Enjoy the brotherhood.