Overtime should be more exciting for players and fans next year in the SJHL. Numerous changes were made at the SJHL Annual General Meeting, the biggest of which was going to a three on three overtime.
“It’s going to be exciting, especially for the fans,” Kevin Hasselberg, Battlefords North Stars Head coach and General Manager, said. “We saw how it opened up the game in the NHL and we as a league wanted to follow what they do. The dollar isn’t hard to come by so if we can entertain our fans that much more by doing this then why not?”
Last season, teams played a five-minute four on four overtime. A shootout followed if it was still tied after the period. Aside from going down to three on three the rest will stay the same.
“You’re always making adjustments and always trying to advance your team. I like the challenge that exists with it and it’s certainly going to be a lot of fun,” Hasselberg said.
The changes won’t influence the way Hasselberg drafts or builds the North Stars. He says he builds his teams with the post season in mind and the overtime rules haven’t changed for the playoffs.
Player safety was also a big subject at the meeting regarding changes to disciplinary actions.
“It holds our coaches and our players accountable for their actions on the ice.” Hasselberg said. “With players getting bigger and faster and collisions getting harder, it makes it more difficult for officials to police the game. Why not put the accountability on the teams to police the game a little bit themselves.”
Suspensions for hit to the head penalties will go from a two game suspension to four. Match penalty suspensions will go from three to five games. Players will sit out two games for cumulating three goalie interference penalties and an additional two games for every ensuing penalty for the rest of the season.
Hasselberg said he does not see these new regulations as changes but as an adaption of the Hockey Canada way of thinking.
“There were a lot of boarding penalties called last year that should have been checking from behind. At the end of the day it’s all about player safety. We don’t want to see players leaving with injuries that could have been prevented,” he said.
The league will open its regular schedule mid-September. Training camps are set to get started late August.
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