|Why do players charge on defense? Couple of reasons, one being that their base defense isn't good enough and they feel they need to gamble to get the puck back. Another reason is psychological; I've heard many old guard members say that they charge the very first possession of a challenge match just to keep the opponent guessing. Charging used to be purely gambling, it was all or nothing, it would leave you exposed if you guessed incorrectly.
While researching several defenses, I studied and practiced a Jose type charging defense, one that relies on taking certain shots away from the offense, and forcing them into a shot that can be attacked by charging. Often the result is getting a piece of the puck to stray it's course, or forcing a turnover. I could actually be somewhat effective with this type of defense because like any other defense, it comes down to being able to read your opponents' shots. I didn't stick with this type of defense because I felt there were too many holes, and it wouldn't be consistent enough for me to beat everyone with it.
With the offenses so powerful and deceptive these days, I'm starting to see hybrid defenses that charge when they recognize a certain shot, instead of just out right gambling. There is a huge upside in charging a shot that you can read, because it can be a stuff, or a turnover for you. There actually isn't as much downside as you'd think, because if you were playing a base defense and tried to defend the same shot, you would've misread what the shot was anyways.
Players who play a risky charging defense are the ones that are more prone to pulling an upset, Robbins, Parmley, Thomas. Heck, from what I saw, it was Fletcher's new interference game that included more risky charges that put him over the top at the last Nationals. Colin, the young player from Santa Cruz played much better in his match vs. Mike Thomas, but the only difference is that he didn't know how to effectively neutralize Thomas' charging style. Had he known the secrets to beating a charger, he would've beaten him fairly easily.
Just like in poker, if you are playing against a superior opponent, the correct strategy is to gamble against him. When you are playing a better player, it is correct to take more chances on defense to try to get the puck back. Just know that if you do it against me, I'm going to be two steps ahead of you already :)