Scott Sandelin on the Power Play

Minnesota Duluth had the 16th best Power Play in NCAA DI Hockey this season, converting at a 20.5% clip. The head coach at UMD, Scott Sandelin, took some time to talk at the convention about the Power Play and how they teach and coach it.

  • Every player and every line will get a chance on the power play at some point during the season. They believe that you never know who might help or fill a role on the PP so they give every player an opportunity.
  • Duluth uses two PP units and each has a slightly different system/look. This is to generate different types of pressure and force their opponent to prepare for different threats.
  • UMD practices the PP twice per week but at different times during practice. This is an attempt to vary the timing and approach to practicing special teams.
  • Practice style will vary, working inzone, full ice, vs pressure, vs no pressure (5v0), players with their sticks turned over, etc. Practicing vs no pressure gives players the opportunity to have success and build confidence, while adding pressure helps players to understand what they will be facing going into the weekend.
  • They will work with a mock PK until once per week to simulate their opponent’s PK.
  • Overall, Duluth establishes a basic framework for their PP and then lets their players creativity take over from there. They establish options and then look to attack certain areas on the ice. They believe in keeping things simple, making the easy play, and allowing players to use their skills.

One of the biggest challenges of coaching the Power Play is finding a balance between overcoaching and undercoaching. They struggle with it just like any other coaching staff in the country. The Power Play is a big part of any team’s ability to generate offense and when it struggles it is easy to feed into those struggles with more coaching and more pressure. When UMD struggles, they will make sure that the players are relaxed and confident, allowing their abilities to take over. The success of their Power Play last year and in past seasons speaks to the success of their methods.

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