Friday, November 28, 2008

Little-Known Rules: Stoppage of Play

I tuned in to the radio broadcast a few minutes ago and heard Hammer mention the puck trickle into the goal after a whistle. I didn't even hear who's end it happened on. That reminded me of something that happened last Saturday when Wheeling was in town.

Near the end of the second period, Wheeling got the puck into the net and the players started to celebrate a goal but the referee was immediately waiving it off. You may remember the scramble down in front of the net, and the fight ensued between Martin and Lord.

This one helped the Cyclones, but you may be wondering why the goal did not count.

The officials blow the whistle to signal the stoppage of play - but that is not the moment that the puck is deemed to be dead. Play is actually considered dead at the point when the referee decides it is dead. The rules acknowledge the delay in actually blowing the whistle.

This is mostly noticed in the goal/no goal situation. The referees stop play when the puck is trapped by the goaltender or when they lose sight of the puck, in assumption that it is trapped. To protect goalies, they have increasingly stopped play sooner than in times past. But sometimes it is not fully trapped or it squirts out, and then gets put into the net.

But, if the referee had already decided play was dead, and then the puck went it, then it is a No Goal situation. This is why the referees will usually waive off the goals vigorously when it happens.

Odd, but true and it makes sense once it is explained.

Rule 32.22 says, in part:
As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How To Act At A Hockey Game

New people at hockey games can be a blessing and a curse. Of course we all want to see new fans, and then we hope they become regular fans and even season ticket holders. On the downside, they don't know the "unwritten rules" of attending a hockey game.

You can't really blame them, did we know all the etiquette at our first games? Probably not. While it might be a little irritating for you and me, do you remember how intimidated you were the first time? Maybe a little, at least?

Hopefully new fans will stumble across this blog entry and learn a thing or two. So, if you are a new fan, WELCOME! we love it that you are here and hope you have a great time at some hockey games. If you are not a new fan, please read these thoughts I have cobbled together. All are welcome and encouraged to leave comments...

Rule #1 - HAVE FUN. You are at the game to have a good time, to see some exciting hockey action, socialize with friends or even seating neighbors you've never met. The object is for everyone to have a good time. That being said, there are some things to be aware of to ensure everyone's good time is preserved.

Beyond that, in no particular order:

If you sit near the tunnel where the officials enter and leave the ice, you'll notice them being heckled. It's OK, they sort of expect it. But there are lines that can not be crossed. Never throw anything at them or reach out in a threatening manner. Watch what you say, be decent about it. What you may also notice is the officials are pretty good about giving pucks to kids, etc.

Watch your language. Yeah, it's a sporting event, and some swear words will probably be tossed out. But there are families and children who are also at the game to have a good time and don't want to hear all the sailor talk. They deserve that. We can all have a good time without sounding like a bunch of goons.

Thunderstruck - the Cyclones opening song. When the lights go out and this song starts, fans should stand and clap vigorously to the beat. It's the beginning of the wave of energy that we all hope carries to the final horn and a Cyclones victory.

National Anthem - have a little respect. Everyone stands and faces the flag. Gentlemen remove their hats. Right hand over your heart (or salute if you're in uniform of some kind). Sing. Go ahead, at least mouth the words. The crowd should face the flag at the end of the building under the restaurant; unless there is a group (military, scouts, honor guard, etc.) in the building, in which case their flag should be faced.

NEVER, ever, throw things onto the ice. It's dangerous for the players who could catch and edge, twist their leg, and injure a knee or something. It disrupts the game, and the HOME TEAM can get a penalty for it. Security will be watching, and if caught you'll get thrown out.

Wait for a whistle. Fans should not be in the isles or climbing through seats while the puck is in play. Not only does bother people trying to watch, but it can be dangerous. The puck, a broken stick, or other objects can come flying off the ice and could injure somebody. Everyone needs to be able to see the action and be ready to duck. If fans are climbing over each other, it could be dangerous. Wait until the referee blows the whistle for a stoppage of play.

Clap when the goalie makes a good save. Proper Canadian crowds are known to show their appreciation for all good saves, from both sides. The guy is putting his body in front of a 100 mph hockey puck, contorting himself in all kinds of funky positions wearing 50 pounds of gear. He deserves the applause.

Also clap when your team clears the zone while short-handed. So if the Cyclones have a man in the penalty box and the play is taking place in their zone, when a Cyclones player finally clears the puck past the blue line, cheer. It's a good thing and helps kill the penalty. Let the players year you and know that you appreciate their efforts.

Always clap when an injured player gets up. From either team. Always.

If I think of more I'll add it. Please leave comments...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holy Goals-Against, Batman!

Well, the Cyclones dropped a 7-6 loss to Elmira and 7-4 loss to Johnstown on Wednesday. It's very unusual to lose a game when you score 6 goals and even a bit unusual to lose when you score 4.

Frustrating, yes. Understandable, well, also yes.

Both Lacasse and Gajewski are first-year pro goaltenders. Goaltenders take very long to develop. Look at some of the goalies in the NHL now who we saw here 10 years ago during the IHL Cyclones and AHL Ducks. Hopefully they will develop over the course of the year and get some help from their goaltender coaches from the parent clubs.

For Example:
Kevin Weekes (New Jersey) - Ft. Wayne and Detroit IHL 1997-1999
Manny Fernandez (Boston) - Kalamazoo Wings IHL 1994-1998
Manny Legace (St. Louis) - Las Vegas Thunder IHL 1997-1998
Tim Thomas (Boston) - Detroit Vipers IHL 1999-2000 (best save % so far 2008)
Evgeni Nabokov (San Jose)- Kentucky Thoroblades AHL 1997-2000 (top winning goalie so far 2008)
Roberto Luongo (Vancouver) - Lowell Loch Monsters AHL 1999-2000 (top shutout goalie so far 2008)
Brian Boucher (San Jose) - Philadelphia Phantoms AHL 1997-2000 (top GAA so far 2008)

So, we are feeling the crunch of being a developmental team.

Look at the bright side - offense is producing. We need some help on defense and in goaltending.

Speaking of Defense, I know there are some detractors of Chad Starling. I sure would like to have him and his +/- stat this season!

I maintain the Alfred E. Newman quote: "What, me worry?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Perspective: 10 games down

We can all agree that starting the 2008-09 season at 0-4 is not a great start. It may have looked gloomy at first; but let's put it in perspective.

First, it is to be expected in minor league sports that the year after a championship virtually always a rebuilding year. With a strict salary cap and predominantly 1-year contracts, not only are other teams in the hunt for champions, but the champion players can get a good raise.

Second, we must remember that champion teams are a very special, even magical achievement. It combines raw talent/personnel, leadership, teamwork, the bonding of players, and ultimately the proverbial "total is greater than the sum of the parts." And then it even takes a degree of luck. We had all that last year. It was an alignment of stellar proportion that is not easy to repeat. Take out any one brick, and the wall is not as strong.

What that gave us last year was, obviously, the best ECHL team of the year. When you look deeper at the records they set, they were arguably the best ECHL team in many years, if not ever. Really, what we saw last year was a team on the bubble of AHL talent.

Now, while this season got off to a rough start, it is clear that they did not waste time getting on the road to recovery. 0-4 to start but 4-0-2 in the last six, bringing their winning percentage back to 0.550. Very early at the inception of this blog I took the position that anything over .500 is good. Fans deserve to expect at least a 50% chance of seeing a win. Last year's .799 regular season record was incredible but anomalous. I think we can safely expect better than .500 but it is unreasonable to expect .800.

Basically, we're back to having a regular ECHL team instead of an inhumanly awesome, on the bubble of the AHL squad.

That's OK.

We should keep it in perspective. In the words of Alfred E. Newman: "What, me worry?"

I'm not worried. In fact, I'm really impressed with what we have seen since the poor start. I like the character I'm seeing. I like the corrective coaching. I like the way the players are developing.

All the pieces of the puzzle are in place. We have a lot to look forward to this season.

Go Cyclones!

Monday, November 03, 2008

A win is a win. 11/1

Call me a bonehead but I completely missed that Gajewski had 49 saves in this game. That's darn impressive no matter how you shake it.
47 saves in regulation, including 24 in the third period.
2 saves in OT
3 saves / 1 goal allowed in the Shootout.

That's virtually a whole game's worth of saves in the third period! and a clutch performance in OT and shootout.

**End Edit**

Again only speaking in terms of stats from leaguestat it looks like the Cyclones had a roller coaster ride in Dayton Saturday night.

Starting with a two goal lead, they allowed Dayton to come back with two. Then they traded 1 and 1, then give up another to let Dayton take the lead 4-3. Rank pulls off the tying goal with less than 5 minutes, forcing the OT and ultimately 5-4 Cyclones shootout victory.

A win is a win.

It looks like they let Dayton back in it - apparently by taking more penalties and not doing so well on the penalty kill.

But in the end, character matters. The boys had the character and the heart to not give up and come back to take the win and the two points.

They seem to be learning fast.