Growing the game

Longer games, adding a contest on tap for high school hockey

BIG RAPIDS — Tim Blashill only sees positives.

The Big Rapids hockey coach likes the two new changes the Michigan High School Athletic Association have made beginning this upcoming season.

Incidentally, the positives are the same, he said.

CHANGES: High school hockey will institute two new changes for the upcoming season – the addition of one more game and 17-minute periods. (Pioneer file photo)

The first change will see periods last 17 minutes instead of 15 minutes. The second change will see schools be able to add a 25th game to the schedule and in the process, drop one of the two scrimmages it had.

Both changes will help with the progression of hockey overall, Blashill said.

“This allows coaches to get more people on the ice and also develop players,” he said.

The periods extended to 17 minutes have existed for a few years, Blashill said, but it was up to the host school if it wanted to play 15 or 17 minute periods.

Blashill generally went with 15 minutes for home games because that was the length for postseason contests. The Cardinals did play a few games through the course of the last season at 17 minutes, including the tournament in Sault Ste. Marie.

“We’ve always had the option, but I wanted to play the regular season games like the postseason,” Blashill said.

Besides developing and getting more players on the ice, Blashill sees another benefit from longer periods.

“The Midgets and Triple A teams play 17 minute periods and up to 40 games in a season, so this puts us more in line with them,” he said.

The bigger change, according to Blashill, is the addition of a 25th game.

High schools could schedule 24 games for the regular season with two preseason exhibition contests. Now, schools will have 25 games, but lose one of the exhibition contests.

“Again, this allows us to compete with other organizations and gives us a chance to find another quality opponent,” Blashill said.

Though no date has been established yet, Blashill said Big Rapids and Muskegon Mona Shores have agreed to play each other as their 25th game.

As with any change, Blashill believes there is one drawback to the changes.

“Historically, we aren’t a team that is going to roll four lines,” he said. “But I think overall, there are more positives than any detriment.”

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