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2 on 2 Hockey article in USA Hockey Magazine

There is a great article in USA Hockey Magazine about the benefits of 2 on 2 hockey and how it is being used to prepare for the olympics, here is the article,

and you can play in our 2 on 2 league starting in February


Small Games On A Big Stage
February 10, 2010

By Harry Thompson
USA Hockey Magazine

After weeks and months of practices and games, leave it to Mark Johnson to bring the game back to its basic form.

Halfway through Tuesday’s practice at the UBC Thunderbird Arena, Johnson orders the nets be placed along the side boards at one end of the ice and drops the puck on a spirited game of 2-on-2 cross-ice hockey.

Players battle for pucks in front of the net and along the boards. Bodies join and leave the game as the action ebbs and flows as pretty passing plays are interrupted by spectacular saves.

At one point Johnson halts the action to pose the most fundamental of hockey questions.

“What is the object of this game?” the U.S. coach shouts.

For players who have spent the better part of the fall and winter training with their coach, they can sense that such an easy question must be a trick. They look at each other and then back at Johnson.

“The object of the game is to score,” he says so matter-of-factly that players can only question their own fundamental knowledge of a game they have played for the better parts of their lives.

Leave it to the son of a coaching legend and an Olympic hero in his own right to bring the game back to its simplest level just days before the start of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

“Sometimes we seem to forget that hockey is a game, and you have to have fun, especially at this time of year,” Johnson says afterward.

“Players and teams tend to get tired of doing drills and the repetitiveness of it. You need to create something in a game setting, especially something where there’s competition. The players like that. These kids are competitive and they want to win so if you can set something up like that you’re going to get a pretty good intensity.”

On the other side of the glass, several members of the Chinese team, the American’s first opponent, watch white and blue USA practice jerseys bump and battle for loose pucks, angle one another out of the play and scramble for rebounds in front of the net.

“That’s the great thing about small games. You’re working on your skills but ultimately you have one team against another team so there’s still a competitive rivalry out there,” says three-time Olympic veteran Julie Chu.

“You always want to win so you’ll see us going hard at it, maybe even too hard at times. But then we tap each other on the shin pads and skate away knowing that we’ve pushed each other a little bit harder today.”

With only a handful of practices on the docket before the U.S. team’s Olympic odyssey takes off on Feb. 14, the coaching staff is doing just enough to keep their players sharp without tinkering with team chemistry.

“We’re not going to reinvent the wheel in the last few days,” Johnson says.

Now that the team is settled into the Olympic Village, the U.S. coaching staff will use the next few days to establish a daily routine so the players can get comfortable with their surroundings while eliminating any undue surprises or distractions.

“Your routine has to be the same as what you’ve had over the last six months,” Johnson says. “We have to stick to that and not do something that we haven’t done up to this point in relationship to preparing yourself for a game.”

And that includes remembering the very fundamentals of the game.

Harry Thompson is the editor of USA Hockey Magazine and will be covering the Olympic hockey tournaments for You can also check out his Olympic blog and Twitter posts at


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