Why You’re Not On The Power-Play

[ posted by Kim on 3rd of October, 2016 ]

Everyone wants to be on the powerplay.

And everyone gets upset when they’re not on it.

Today, I want you consider why your coach may
have decided not to put you out on the powerplay.

(Note: this could easily be written in the context
of a goalie not getting a big start against a hated
rival or a player not playing in the final minutes of
a close game).

So I’m going to share a little story with you from my
own hockey career that will hopefully help you
understand where us coaches are coming from when
we make key decisions during the game.

When I was playing NCAA Division 1 hockey at Dartmouth,
I scored quite a bit. I was in the top 3 of our team scoring for
at least 3 years. And I rarely played on the powerplay. In fact,
the year I lead the team in scoring for the majority of the season,
I barely played on the powerplay at all.

Weird, right?

Usually the snipers get all the powerplay minutes.

Well here’s the thing. I wasn’t exactly a pretty scorer.
I was more of a bull in a china shop kind of scorer.
The kind of scorer who scores 95% of their goals from the
hashmarks down. I scored because I had no fear of going to the net
hard and always had my stick in the right place at the right time.

I excelled at reckless abandon.

Reckless abandon usually isn’t something we want on the powerplay.

I might have been a key powerplay player on a powerplay
that shovelled pucks to the net and I simply had to bang ‘em home.

But that’s not the kind of powerplay we ran back in college.
We slowed it down. We set it up. We waited patiently for seams
to open up.

Patience with the puck wasn’t something I excelled at.
And so I didn’t play a lot on the powerplay.
And it bothered me a lot.

How could a top scorer not get a lot of powerplay minutes?

What was the coach thinking?

And that’s when you need to STOP.

You’ll never really know what the coach is thinking.
It wasn’t until I was a few years in to my coaching career,
which was nearly a decade after I stopped playing college
hockey, to understand why I wasn’t a key cog in our powerplay.

And while I may not have been the type of player to run our
finessed powerplay, I definitely did one thing right…

… I shut up and did the work.

I didn’t roll my eyes when the powerplay units got extra practice
and us penalty killers were told to go to the other end and wait.

In fact, I decided to make sure that I never gave that powerplay
a millisecond of time or a centimeter of space. I was the best
damn penalty kill practice player you’ve ever seen. I’m sure I
pissed off more than my fair share of teammates penalty killing
like crazy in practice.  But I made them better – and I got a lot
more penalty kill time as a result.

So when you’re wondering why you’re not on the powerplay
or the penalty kill, or why you’re not getting the big start or
getting on the ice in the final minute, remember this…





We have to make a choice.
Sometimes we get it right
and sometimes we get it wrong.

But you need to stop worrying about things you
can’t control and focus on the things you can control.

Work harder. Focus on the little things. Be better.

Your friend and coach,


Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS
Director & Founder, Total Female Hockey

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