By: John Raffel
Hockey teams ready for 17-minute periods
Fans who adore high school hockey will be getting six minutes more for their money every game, especially when it comes to the MHSAA tournaments.
MHSAA hockey tournaments will have 17-minute periods, compared to 15-minute frames in the past.
Geoff Kimmerly of the MHSAA communications department said that schools have been allowed to go for 17 minutes during the regular season since 2009-10.
“This is the first year we adopted it for our tournaments,” he said. “Nationally, they've been allowed for awhile to go up to 17-minute periods. The big drive and the reason the schools liked it is six minutes of additional ice, for most of the time, without paying more ice time to the rinks.
“That's a pretty big deal because ice time can be more pricey. This gives us time to be out there for the buck. Plus, you can get more players out there with six more minutes. It will make for longer games and hopefully a better game for same price.”
Going 17 minutes during the regular season is an option for teams, Kimmerly noted. “They can play 15 if they'd like, but our tournaments are 17,” he said.
Ron Miller coaches the Freeland-Nouvel-Valley Lutheran team , the FNV Griffins, and he likes the 17-minute periods.
“I feel that it is a more true perception of the game,” Miller said. “I feel it allows a deeper team to utilize the roster to their advantage.”
"I support this move,” said Big Rapids hockey coach Tim Blashill. “It puts us in line with similar USA hockey teams.”
Blashill noted that bantams (13-14 year olds) play 15 minute periods.
“Ice time lengths seem to negligible; it helps high school hockey compete with AAA teams,” Blashill said. “More game ice can help development – the option [in past seasons] of 17 for regular season and having the playoffs at 15 did not make sense – smaller teams[in terms of depth] might be affected early….but again, the difference is negligible.”
Blashill said that all of his team's home games at Ferris State University's Ewigleben Ice Arena are 17-minute periods, since they're able to control that as the hosts.
“All of our home games we can control,” Blashill said. “We held off last year; all of our home games was 15. Our reason for doing that is all of the tournament games were 15. Once they moved the tournanent to 17, we had no problem moving all our games to 17.”
Home teams can decide during the regular season whether periods will be for 15 or 17 minutes.
“It's still optional,” Blashill said, but he anticipates that almost all his regular-season games will be 17 minutes.
Bill Sipola of Okemos sees both pros and cons.
“We have continued to have 15 minute periods in our league play,” he said. “The negative I see for 17 minute periods is the possibility of games lasting more than two hours of ice. The positive aspect is more time on the ice.”
Ed VanPortfliet of Rockford favors the move.
“We've been playing 17s the past two seasons, and we endorse the move for the playoffs 100 percent,” he said. “It gives us a chance to give more playing time to more players. I haven't found anything negative to the move.”
An additional six minutes on the clock means about 20 more minutes of actual game time, Blashill noted.
“Our bantam teams are at 15 minutes, 13-to-14 years olds...Triple A teams play 17 minutes, so I think it was the natural thing to do," Blashill said. He added that he doesn't foresee the periods ever going more than 17 minutes.
Overtimes are flexible during regular-season tournaments.
"The set thing now is 8-minute overtimes for regular-season games, and the leagues can decide what they want to do like a shootout,” Blashill said. “For our home tournaments, we basically try to do two 8-minute overtimes and probably do a shootout after that.”