In Canada we all  know how to play hockey.  Its our national pastime , right?

So, if we all know  how to play the game, then why is beer league so crappy and why are you losing so often?

There are probably lots of viable explanations, but they all fall under the same two headings – you’re not playing the game right, and you aren't playing as a team.

Let's get a few things clear before we solve the problem:

- This is beer league.  Its a bunch of grown men past their prime.

- Nobody's making it to the pros from beer league.

- Lots of the guys come for the beer drinking.

The name of the game is fun, not winning at all costs.  Its just more fun to drink beer and bullshit with the boys when you're winning.  With that perspective let’s take a  look at the challenge.

The typical rec hockey team plays 25-30 games during the season. A good example is a Div. 5 team that played 28 games over the winter. They finish in 7th in a field of eight with 10 wins, 14 losses and 3 ties. 87 goals for. 106 against.

We know offense wins games and defense wins championships, but let's get real.  A 7th place team isn'tin the runnning for any championships. If it wasn't customary for everyone to make the playoffs they'd be out halfway through the season.  Let's be more realistic.

Review  the numbers. 87 for, 106 against. That’s a  19 goals more against over 28 games. That’s less than 1 goal per game.

87 goals over 28 games is an avearage of 3.1 goals a game. Any team that scores three goals a game should win most of their games.

106 goals over 28 games is a pretty low average as well – 3.78 goals against per game, in fact.  Mind you, if its higher than goals for you'll probably have a losing average, and no goalie with a 3.78 GAA is going to boast much.

On top of which, everybody knows that   losing teams struggle to score goals.  If they didn't then they'd be winning teams.

The solution is straightforward. If, on average, a team scores fewer goals a game that it lets in, they're going to lose.

If, however, they   score the same number of  goals each game but let in fewer, they’re going to win.

How hard is that math?  Not hard at all. And how hard is it to reduce goals against by one goal  per game? Not hard at all.  Here’s 6 simple ways to do it:

1) Reduce the number of odd man rushes against.

2) Don’t seagull and don't float.

3) Play 5 on 5 at both ends of the ice.

4) Make sure that your team covers the points in your end.

5) Get the center to work with the D-men.

6) Don’t change lines when the play’s going back to, or in,  your end.

Not hard, right?  Simple, and even easy.  I'll expand on each topic in forthcoming articles.  Make sure you search InfoBarrel for them.