The early reviews are in on the WHL’s new three-on-three overtime format – it’s a hit!
In an attempt to reduce the number of games that are decided in a shootout, the WHL and NHL have adopted the new overtime format this season.
Those at Saturday night’s game between the Pats and the Warriors got their first taste of the new wide open way to try and break a tie.
“I think it’s more entertaining. It’s far better than the shootout,” said head coach John Paddock.
“You can see there’s going to be opportunities if you make a mistake or fall down.”
When even coaches – who are naturally defensive and often attempt to keep pucks out of the net rather than going for it – like the new format, the hockey world must be on to something.
Right now, NHL and WHL teams are trying to figure out how they’re going to approach overtime.
On Saturday night, both the Pats and the Warriors opted to go with two forwards and one defenceman. Even though the Pats had success in their home opener, how they approach overtime might change throughout the year.
“We’ve watched some of the NHL games played that we learned from,” said assistant coach Dave Struch.
“It’s a difficult situation. I’m sure we’ll experiment in a couple of different ways.”
So far, there’s two different ways that coaches have tried to play three-on-three. Some have opted to send out a couple of defenceman with the forward and basically play it like a five-on-three penalty kill. There’s also the approach the Pats and Warriors took with a couple of forwards. At that point, it becomes more of a man-on-man coverage situation rather than playing a position on the ice.
“You don’t want to lose your man. If you do, he’s got a lot of ice to make things happen. I guess you could say it’s high risk, high reward,” said forward Sam Steel, who scored the game-winning goal for the Pats on Saturday.
With so much open ice, an even higher premium is also placed on having possession of the puck.
“I’d say it’s all about possession. The last thing you want to do is give them the puck, it could be a while until you get it back,” said Steel.
“It’s different that’s for sure but it’s enjoyable.”
NHL Central Scouting is out with players to watch list for the upcoming draft. Steel and forward Adam Berg are the only two members of the Pats to make the list.
Not surprisingly, Steel received an “A” rating, while Berg was given a “C”.
“It’s really early in the year and there’s a lot of change but I guess it’s good to be noticed early in the season,” said Steel.
The 2016 NHL Draft is set for June in Buffalo, N.Y.