Ways to Keep Score in Pickup Hockey

Yes, the majority of pickup hockey games do not keep score. Our platform is targeted at people who organize a weekly game of pickup hockey. For most, that means a similar group of players each week. Keeping score in some fashion with a close, consistent group is a great way to keep the compete levels up. I thought I’d lay out some simple to more advanced methods.

Simple mini-games

Run mini games, each going to a score of 5. This gets the players on the ice keeping score, pushing the pace if they’re down, maybe even playing some D if they’re protecting a lead. Once a winner reaches 5, goalies or teams switch ends and start a new game. In a 50 minute timespot you should be able to get a few of these games in.

mini-games, with weekly winner

This is just a step further in that you keep track of which team wins the most mini-games. This matters more if you are keeping teams somewhat consistent week to week. It certainly will add to the dressing room chirping after the game each week.

Timed games

This is more work, as you need to access the game clock or time on the bench. Running a few timed games makes a big difference in the competition. You’re now playing against the clock rather than the game extending until a team scores 5. In the new game I’m running, we play three 25 minute timed games. With a timed game, you can also pull your goalie and push to regain leads late in games.

Tracking teams and wins

This is next level stuff, I will admit that I’m new to this. We are using our team selection feature, and picking teams at random each week. Using this feature means that we have the full history of who played on which team each game. We’re tracking wins and we’re assigning each player 1 point for a game win and an extra point if their team wins the night. We can then track ‘player stats’ and share them week to week. I’ll keep you up to date how this works as we’re only three weeks in. I’m prototyping this by using a shared google sheet, you’re welcome to take a look if you like. Assuming this works, we’ll build this into our teams feature shortly.

Are you keeping score in your weekly pickup hockey games or doing anything interesting to keep your skaters pushing? If so, let us know so we can share it with others here.

Finding/adding goalies for pickup hockey

I mentioned my personal goalie crisis last week. On the day of our pickup hockey game, we had two goalies drop last minute. That triggered a few questions from some of our newer organizers about how to manage goalies in our platform.

I’ve been playing with a new tool lately, to answer questions like this by just showing how. So I made a quick video that demonstrates how you make someone a goalie in your lineup.

Of course, if you prefer reading, our FAQ is still there. Remember that we have a list of players looking for more hockey. If you need more goalies in your lineup, we’re happy to promote your game and try to find more for you.

Dear Diary: I Started Pickup Hockey Game II

Dear Diary:

I entered into week 4 with optimism of getting back to selling out our game. Boy was I wrong. We entered into gameday with 10 skater spots open. Then around 11am we had one of our committed goalies bail on us. The challenge in this case is that we had two committed goalies all week. That means our platform doesn’t even bother to invite other goalies, as the spots are taken. Goalies dropping out on gameday are a pain.

I’m pretty sure I emailed 50+ goalies but by 4pm we were back to 2 goalies and we only needed 5 skaters. Once again, skater spots kept filling up through the day, with no thanks to me.

At 7:30pm, a little over an hour before we skate, another goalie dropped out because of a family emergency. Two goalies dropping out on gameday is a major pain. We scrambled but ultimately weren’t able to find a goalie last minute so we played with one goalie and a hole-a-goalie at the other end.

No ill feelings towards the goalies. Life happens but it’s tough when multiple goalies dropout on gameday.

Goalie Subs

One part that takes getting used to with our platform, is to just put as many goalies as you know into your lineup. Goalies in your later rounds are only emailed if the goalies in your earlier rounds don’t take your two spots. So you may as well have 30 goalies in your final round. That way you don’t have to chase and send emails if you’re short a goalie, we handle it for you.

So, new lesson learned this week is to take my own advice and get more goalies into our last sub round. Yes, it doesn’t really account for really last minute drops but having lot’s of goalies in your lineup is never a bad thing.

As well, this experience points to a new feature we need to build. When a game goes from being soldout for goalies to having a spot open, we should email all invited goalies to invite them again. This email could be fully automated or require the organizer’s permission. Another consideration, if it’s x hours from gametime should we send an email to the entire lineup letting all the players know that we need a goalie. The latter email shouldn’t be needed if your lineup already has a good large list of goalies in it.

Dear Diary: I Started a Pickup Hockey Game

To date, I’ve personally only ran the occasional pickup game myself. This year I decided to start hosting my own weekly game. I’m eating my own dog food as they say. (Yes that’s a real term, no it’s not worth looking up.)

I thought I’d write in my diary as I go through this season to share my firsthand experience organizing weekly pickup hockey. So, here goes…

Dear Diary,

It’s Brydon here and it’s been a while. Sorry, it’s me not you. So as you know I built this platform to help people run their weekly pickup hockey games. It’s built to make life easier for the organizer and the games better for their players. It works great.

Last week was my 3rd game and I managed to validate two core things so far.

  1. Holy crap, I’ve always said organizing weekly pickup hockey is a thankless chore but I’m not sure I truly understood it. It sucks!
  2. Holy crap, I thought our platform was great but it’s awesome. I can’t even contemplate dealing with this without our tool.

Where my game is at?

We soldout week 1, which was a great start and had me complacent. No problem, this organizing thing is cake. Then week 2 we had two goalies, which is key, but only 13 skaters! We resorted to playing 4 on 4 which was ok but the game slows down quickly.

On the finance side for week 2, that’s 7 spots not sold which translates into $140 uncollected. This is the big problem we’re working to help solve. Most games, including mine, are basically poorly run non-profits. You set the price so that you recoup your costs and you assume perfect attendance as you don’t want to make money on this. The problem is when you have a few weeks like my week 2, you’re done. You don’t ever have a week with 27 skaters to make that up.

Last week, week 3, we ended up with 17 skaters, 5 skaters paying within the final 4 hours before game time. Our games have been great, I feel that demand is building to play in the game. I’m bullish that we’ll sell out this coming week’s game!


What have I learned so far? No one is really committed until they pay, bottom line. Everyone wants you to run a game, it’s just more hockey options for them. Until they pay, you really have no idea if they will play.

Keep pushing and add as many subs to your lineup as you can until you are consistently selling out week after week. You can see below in my lineup view, emails scribbled to protect the innocent, I have 60+ players on my list right now across all rounds but it’s still not enough.

More full timers. We have lot’s of new games like mine that are selling out from the get go. Those tend to have 15 to 20 full time players who have already paid for the entire season. In that case, those players are committed to playing and you’re likely to only need to sell about 5 sub spots each week. The caveat being that we do have people who run game with no full timers and still manage to sellout every week. Those folks have large sub lists(80+) and engaged sub lists.

However you do it, you have to create demand! You create demand by selling out games. Soldout games means more people want to be full time, subs grab spots sooner and it snowballs.

It’s been so good to catch up again diary and clearly my hand writing skills are still top notch….

Site Down

Some of you may have noticed that our site was down yesterday. We were heavily impacted by some changes in our hosting infrastructure. It was a long day but our service should be back to normal today. If you accepted or declined any upcoming games yesterday, please head back to your dashboard and make sure your attendance is correct for those games.

Apologies but outages happen, this is our first major one and hopefully our last for a while. Thanks for your patience and support.

More Kitchener Waterloo Pickup Hockey!

Hey, we have a few weekly games in Kitchener Waterloo who are open to having ‘rookies’ jump in. For each game, you can jump in and grab a spot in this week’s skate using the link below. Or if you can’t make it, register to get invited each week for that game.

Tuesday Night
This is a new game starting this week. It’ll be 30 to 50 age bracket, a good paced skate. They are in need of some goalies right now but will take on lot’s of skaters as well.

Note, this game says Lion’s right now but these are actually at Activa, we’ll update that shortly.

Grab a spot

Friday Afternoon
This is a long standing game. It’s a bit faster paced so make sure you’re up for a good skate and have played the game at a decent level in the past.

Grab a spot

Looking For More Hockey?

Make sure you’ve filled in our ‘Play More Hockey‘ form if you’re looking for more pickup. We’ll email you when we have other games looking for skaters.

Run Your Private Pickup Hockey (get your time back!)

We are clearly not marketers as we have yet to successfully articulate what we do here at 20Skaters. I know this because I get asked the following question way too often….

“Hey, someone who plays in the weekly pickup hockey game I organize told me about your system. They used it as a player in a pickup game this summer and loved it.

I run a weekly game of pickup but my question is, can I just invite my players? I already have a good list of skaters, we’re a good group and I only want to invite them.”

So, my clarification is….yes, 100% yes! That is precisely what we built this for. As an organizer, you manage your lineup of players. It is fully in your control. We do NOT add or even invite players to your weekly game. We simply take all your admin work off your plate.

Selection_187Each week we invite your paid full timers in first. They can accept or decline for free, as they’ve already paid you for the entire season. Then a few days later we start inviting your subs in. Those subs pay online to secure a spot in that week’s game.

On gameday, we email a reminder to everyone who’s committed to playing. That’s it, you are in control, it’s your game!

If you happen to need some new players then we’re happy to spread the word and invite new people to your game. If you get a ‘rookie’ out then after the game you can decide if you want to keep them in your lineup so they get invites each week. Or you can move them to inactive if they didn’t fit in well with your group and they won’t be invited again.

That’s it. You buy the ice and manage your roster, we’ll take care of everything else!

The Good Old Hockey Game….is Back!

For you NHL players who made your team’s roster, the good news is….you get to play in the NHL today! The bad news is you’ll have to wait a bit longer before you can enjoy the game the way it should be played, pickup, with friend…without stripes!

Welcome back!

What Pickup Hockey is all about: First Goal!

There’s no referees, whistles or announcers, just 20 guys playing the game they love. The skill levels vary, the bounces are crazy, and the goalies get little rest. But we love it.

Pickup hockey is about more than competition. That’s why we love what we do at 20Skaters. Helping organizers put an optimal number of players on the ice makes it more fun for eversteveyone. More importantly, we love when we get to hear the tales of glory from our wonderful and growing group of pickup warriors.

Our friend ‘stevetehpirate’ recently broke down the first goal he scored playing drop-in hockey. Not everyone is Sidney Crosby out there; for most of us scoring is hard work. I’ll let ‘steve’ tell it himself, “Got in front of the net. Actually caught a pass. Somehow, put it up top, glove side… blocked. Snagged the rebound and pushed the puck through the swarm of sticks towards five hole. Easy pad save. Snagged the rebound yet again and tucked between the post and the goalie’s skate before falling backwards on my ass.”

It doesn’t have to look pretty. As they say, “there’s no pictures on the score board.” Perseverance is everything in hockey.

We were thrilled that he was sporting his brand new 20Skaters jersey. When we get him the dark version, he might just turn into Alex Ovechkin.

This story reminds us that there’s always that guy out there with you, grinding hard, trying to bury his first, even though you already have 5 tonight. Put the puck on that guy’s stick, and give him the opportunity. It might not work out, because as Steve put it “Give me a soccer net and I’ll still have a tough time.” Yet, when guys like him are scoring, everyone is having a good time.

Because after all, that’s what pickup hockey is all about. As he mentions “conked my head on the ice, which might have hurt if I wasn’t so damn happy.” We were happy for you too!

Handling Last Minute Pick-up Hockey Dropouts

Your phone buzzes. Before you look at it, you already know what the message is going to say: “Sorry man, something came up, I can’t make hockey tonight.” One guy short is fine, but your phone vibrates again, with more bad news. It’s a few hours before game time, and the guys you recently turned away have already made plans.

Last minute pick-up dropouts infuriate the entire squad, and make you look bad as an organizer. When you go into the room to tell them we’re short this week, again, you know they’re going to let you have it. They told you your buddy was unreliable a million times, and they have at least 3 friends who would play each week.

Now instead of organizing a friendly pick-up game, you’ve become some combo of politician, mediator, and judge all in one. Why deal with the hassle? You’re doing this as a favour to the rest of the gang, and these dropouts are killing morale.

Stop Dealing with Dropouts

With 20Skaters, we send out email notifications throughout the week, including gameday reminders to attending skaters. Players have to sign up in advance with our first-come-first-serve system. You can still give you main guys priority, but have a larger list when spaces need to be filled.

We’ve found that the commitment level rises and dropout rates decrease dramatically with 20Skaters. The commitment-phobes with their last minute decisions are forced to make up their minds early in the week – otherwise their spot is gone. How much are you willing to bet that your buddy who cancels last-minute, every other week will get his shit together in a hurry?

hockey3Obviously slackers make up only a percentage of your dropouts. Things come up, including emergencies. You can’t blame guys for ditching pick-up if something more important comes up, because after-all, it’s for fun. Falling asleep on the couch is not an excuse!

Our system is designed to deal with last-minute dropouts, and will send out emails to the guys who didn’t get in, letting them know a space is available. You’re more than welcome to manually reach out, but we take that hassle off your hands. No more frantic calls a few hours before game time; we’ll make sure you have a full 20 Skaters.

Hit Them Where it Hurts

Their wallets. With 20Skaters, your subs are required to pre-pay via credit card in order to save their spot. If they cancel last minute, the money is already in your hands. You get to decide if they get it back or not. If they’ve already paid, we seriously doubt they’ll cancel for anything less than a solid reason. If they do, well, you’re not losing money!

Our goal is always to put 20 skaters, and 2 goalies on the ice, week in and week out for your pick-up hockey game. Last minute dropouts can be a pain in the ass, hurting the quality of your game, and your finances.

Let us be the bad guys. We’ll get your slackers back in line, and back on the ice. You can get back to the beach!