By Mark Lichtenfeld. Originally published at LetsPlayHockey.com:
By now, just about anyone involved in amateur hockey knows that the 2017-18 season incorporates numerous rule changes which will stick with us for the next four years. And many of these alterations were controversial at first, especially the icing prohibitions for shorthanded teams at Bantam-and-below levels.
So after two full months and nearly 70 games officiated east and west of the Mississippi River, OS will analyze these rule changes and provide competent feedback.
A. The new icing rule
USA Hockey Rule 624 prohibits all icings for most Bantams and younger divisions. If you recall from an earlier column, USA Hockey’s preseason data analysis indicated these shorthanded icings occurred about two times per game. And in fact, that is exactly OS’s observation, and much of this can be attributed to the fast, NHL ice at City National Arena. What’s more, OS has had just a single instance of a coach’s ignorance over the new rule and has never had a parent, uncle or team manager erroneously complain about an icing call against a shorthanded team. Still, this doesn’t mean OS likes the icing rule, and it’s probably just a matter of time before a shorthanded Bantam gets injured on a hard check into the boards as he’s trying to control the puck instead of safely icing it, but that’s a matter for USA Hockey’s insurance carrier – which no doubt approved the rule before mass publication.
B. Nine-dot rule
I take it the hockey community doesn’t even know or care about this rule. It’s as though nobody has noticed that every single faceoff is now on a dot, instead of the exact location of the last play. Even beer leaguers have yet to catch on. I mean, how many times has a defensive team deflected an offensive shot over the glass from 10 feet inside of their blue line and then remained completely silent when the officials bring the puck to the end zone dot for the faceoff? Guess 30 feet of territory doesn’t mean anything. And I know officials have been fudging the center ice faceoff to the extent possible. Whatever. No one has said a word, and it’s definitely not acquiescence by silence because there’s no chance these Squirts, hatchet goons or low-level JV coaches are even cognizant of the rule.
C. Out-of-play deflection off post or cross bar
OS would love to have a goaltender lose it over this rule. You know, taking the faceoff at the end zone dot even though the goalie never touched the puck before the rubber deflected over the glass. Problem is, this scenario has happened just once to OS this season. But it’s just a matter of time.
Unlike prior, outrageous rule changes, like eliminating checking and delayed offsides for 12-and-under, the current major rule adjustments have had no measurable effect on play this season. And the dearth of debate from coaches and players is particularly surprising. Like OS surmises, it’s probably more a factor of unawareness over acquiescence. But the old adage is so very true – a little knowledge is worse than a ton of ignorance.
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