What's Buzzing:

Buzzing The Net

WHL's 'dry scrape before overtime' trial run has some bugs to work out

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net


View photo

Flames prospect Morgan Klimchuk and his Regina Pats had a WHL-high 12 OT wins last season (Larry MacDougal, The Canadian Press)

Flames prospect Morgan Klimchuk and his Regina Pats had a WHL-high 12 OT wins last season (Larry MacDougal, The …

An idea is only as good as the execution. Generally speaking, it feels more like a legitimate outcome when a hockey team seals a regular-season win during 4-on-4 overtime instead of during the shootout, derisively called the 'circus' or 'breakaway relay.'

The Western Hockey League is trying to foster some better play in overtime by adapting the NHL's new rule of having Zamboni drivers 'dry scrape' the ice before teams begin the 4-on-4 session. The intentions are noble, but it's turned the usual two-minute breather between the third period and OT into a 10-or-more-minute mini-intermission. That would likely not occur in NHL buildings, which usually use two Zambonis to repair the ice between periods, but it is an issue in major junior level.

Moose Jaw Times-Herald beat writer Matthew Gourlie said it "took nearly 12 minutes to do the dry scrape — two-thirds of a normal intermission — and they played 34 seconds of overtime" before a game last week. It was a similar story during an Edmonton-Saskatoon preseason game that was knotted after 60 last weekend in St. Albert, Alta.

As Guy Flaming described it:

"As we saw on Sunday in St. Albert ... Les Lazaruk, the [radio] voice of the Saskatoon Blades, timed it. It took 11 minutes and 20 seconds to dry scrape the ice. Basically, what you're doing, is you basically flood the ice but without water. You're dragging the Zamboni across the ice, cleaning the sheet, you suck up all the snow. The ice is definitely better. And there's no water so you don't have to wait for it to freeze. It's quicker than a normal intermission but you're setting up to play, at most, a five-minute period.

"... Sitting there seemed like half a hour. It was a long process. (The Pipeline Show, Sept. 3)

Off-handedly, the majority of major junior hockey buildings only employ one Zamboni; without that infrastructure, an otherwise good idea is probably dead in the water. The other drawback to giving teams an unofficial third intermission is that it takes away from the spontaneity and free-formness of the 4-on-4, which is one part of the game that is hard to overcoach.

It is not clear if the WHL has a problem with an excessive number of games that after tied after 60 minutes going to shootouts. The number of regular-season games requiring overtime has been very inelastic over the past five years. The percentage of games that go to a shootout is also trending slightly downward, although it's such a small sample I wouldn't make any firm conclusions. Somewhere around 55 to 58 per cent of OT games need the 'circus.'


WHL extra time statsOT SOSO%
2010 140 82 58.6
2011 139 79 56.8
2012 130 73 56.2
2013 134 73 54.4
2014 142 77 54.2

If the endgame is limiting shootouts, adopting the Ken Holland idea of splitting regular-season overtime into 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 segments seems more logical. The Central Canada Hockey League just became the latest Junior A circuit to do so; it will decide games with a seven-minute OT that starts 4-on-4 and drops to three-a-side following the first whistle after the 4:00 mark.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

View Comments (1)
  • More Argentina players may retire from internationals - Aguero

    (Reuters) - Sergio Aguero and other Argentina players could follow the lead of captain Lionel Messi and retire from international football after losing the final of the Copa America on penalties to Chile for the second straight year. The … More »

    Reuters - 6 minutes ago
  • Flexibility is the name of the game as Germany set marker

    Flexibility is the name of the game as Germany set marker

    By Karolos Grohmann EVIAN, France (Reuters) - Germany coach Joachim Loew has not used the same starting 11 in any of his team's four matches at the Euro 2016 so far and is unlikely to do so in their quarter-final clash with either holders Spain or … More »

    Reuters - 17 minutes ago
  • Britain's King may appeal against Rio snub

    (Reuters) - Olympic champion Dani King is considering appealing against the British Cycling decision to leave her out of the country's road race team for the Rio Olympics, the rider has said. King, who won the track team pursuit gold at the 2012 … More »

    Reuters - 20 minutes ago
  • Factbox: Profile of Lionel Messi

    (Reuters) - Factbox on Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi, who said he was quitting international soccer after Sunday's loss on penalties to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final and failing again to lift a major trophy with his … More »

    Reuters - 22 minutes ago
  • Chile prove hard nut to crack for South America's best

    Chile have never beaten Argentina in open play in 27 Copa America meetings in 100 years yet have twice in 12 months dashed the hopes of Lionel Messi's team of lifting a major trophy. A second successive victory on penalties in the final against … More »

    Reuters - 22 minutes ago