Say this for the Ontario Hockey League, it was quick to react to a new rule that was obviously going to slow down games.
To mirror the NHL, over the summer the major junior leagues adopted the big league's new rule of giving the entire ice surface a dry scrape before the start of the 4-on-4 overtime, rather just freshening up the middle of the rink once a shootout was required. Out in the Western Hockey League, it was quickly discovered that the change entailed significant delays in arenas that only use one Zamboni. Since the OHL does not play overtime in preseason (games that are tied after 60 minutes proceed directly to a shootout), there was probably a slower realization of how the switch would inconvenience fans. Suffice to say, all it's taken is one 11-minute-long de facto intermission between the third period and overtime of a London Knights-Owen Sound Attack game on Sept. 26 to realize it was time to go back to the old rule.
From Ryan Pyette (@RyanatLFPress)
The OHL’s experiment of scraping the entire ice surface at the end of regulation time, however, is over. That’s due in large part to the Knights-Attack game, when it took more than 10 minutes to resurface the ice with just one Zamboni.
“You’re just sitting there doing nothing, waiting for the Zamboni to finish,” [Knights goalie Michael] Giugovaz said. “It was really weird.”
There are four cities in the league — Owen Sound, Sudbury, Belleville and Peterborough — that operate only one ice-resurfacing vehicle.
“In order to be consistent around the league, we’ll revert back to the old way (a couple of Zamboni passes down the middle of the ice before the shootout),” OHL vice-president Ted Baker said. “It was evident it was too much of a delay for the fans and the players.” (London Free Press)
Unfortunately, some would say, the shootout remains and one team will still get an extra point for no apparent reason when 65 minutes of hockey solves nothing. One week into the season is pretty fast for having a rule change, but credit the OHL, though, for seeing this would cause problems in four of its 20 arenas.
Only two games during the league's opening week required the breakaway relay, with Owen Sound coming out on the short end vs. both Kitchener and London. Attack defenceman Chris Bigras is the answer to the future trivia question about who scored the overtime-forcing goal in the game that led to the quick change.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.