Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Hockey, I understand ... but lacrosse?

I took some time this weekend to enjoy the Dartmouth-Cornell men's lacrosse game, in which the Big Red edged the Big Green, 8-7. This was the first game I have seen in over a decade, and I confess that I couldn't figure it out. It seemed like Cornell was playing a different sport than Dartmouth was.

Hockey, I understand quite well, after 20 years of watching it closely. It basically comes down to three principles:

  1. Failure to clear the puck out of your defensive zone is the source of all bad hockey. (This means that the entire team, including the forwards, must work as hard as possible to get the puck across the blue line.)
  2. If there is a 2-on-1, and you are the 1, prevent the pass not the shot. (The goalie has to play the opponent with the puck no matter what, so the defender's primary objective should be to make sure he doesn't also have to worry about a pass to the opponent without the puck.)
  3. Favorable rebounds far outnumber perfect passes. (The best opportunities arise when the puck is near the net, so when in doubt, shoot.)
Can anyone enlighten me on comparable principles for lacrosse? And what are the rules governing physical contact and contact with the stick?

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pblsh said...
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pblsh said...

You have a nice team to watch this year.

Lacrosse is more like basketball than hockey in its strategies, although its play is more like hockey. Offensive and defensive philospophy is quite similar to basketball, in fact.

Like basketball, it is an offensively oriented game, although good defense play can make the difference.

Offensively, you are working for the highest percentage shot. Good teams have a high percentage of goals to shots. One-on-one isolation, picks, off the ball movement, and passing to the open man all mirror basketball, although the skills are quite different, of course. A lacrosse play, on paper, looks much like a basketball play, except with one more player.

Teams can play a "run and gun" or a slower style of play.

There are rules meant to prevent stalling, although the college game does not have a shot clock.

Teams play man-to-man and zone defenses. Goalies are critically important, as in hockey (the Dartmouth goallie is very good).

The rules on stick checking are much like hockey. Slashing, cross checking, and striking the helmet are all penalties where the man leaves the game for 1 minute, as in hockey. The rules on body contact are similar as welll -- contact from the rear, tripping, leaving your feet, are all penalties. Pushing is a technical foul and the most often called penalty.

The game against Brown this Saturday should be excellent.

Eagle1 said...

I'm slightly modifying your hockey analysis and telling my soccer team players "There are three things to remember..."


Cent21 said...

pbish, I was about to enter a comment similar to yours, but without your great detailed analysis.

I don't understand hockey, having grown up south of the Mason Dixon line. I played lacrosse on the Mason Dixon line in high school, and find the game fascinating to watch when I get the chance, though not as fascinating as the Illinois/Carolina game a few weeks ago.

I'm fascinated these days watching hockey, but I don't have a clue what's going on, except that it seems like an imprecise and more physical version of lacrosse with thicker padding.