Maine Hockey Journal

Pirates announce schedule format; Rule changes upcoming

(Sorry for the delay in posting for the last few days. I was on a short reprieve for the weekend in order to handle some business items, but all is well now.)

Portland, ME – On Friday, the Portland Pirates announced their schedule format for the 2008-09 regular season, the first as the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.

Like last season, the Pirates will not play any team from the Western Conference, which means those in Rochester who supported the team under the Sabres banner, will not see the their prospects until ’09-’10 at the earliest. However, the possibility remains that Portland could see a Western New York swing with a home game held at HSBC Arena in Buffalo in the near future.

Portland will face the Atlantic Division (Lowell, Hartford, Providence, Manchester and Worcester) 58 times over the course of an 80 game schedule in attempt to keep travel cost at a minimum, while their remaining 22 games will be shared with East Division opponents.

Season Matrix:

HFD – 4H/4A
LOW – 5H/5A
MCH – 5H/5A
PRO – 5H/5A
SPR – 5H/5A
WOR – 5H/5A
ALB – 2H/2A
BNG – 2H/2A
BST – 3H/3A
HER – 1H/1A
NOR – 2H/2A
PHI – 1H/1A
WBS – 1H/1A

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The Pirates also announce six of their home dates for the ’08-’09 season.

– Saturday, October 11th at 7:05 p.m. in the Cumberland County Civic Center (Home Opener)

– Friday, November 14th at 7:05 p.m. at Androscoggin Bank Colisée (Lewiston)

– Saturday, November 15th at 7:05 p.m. at Androscoggin Bank Colisée

– Tuesday, December 9th at 7:05 p.m. at Alfond Arena (Orono)

– Wednesday, December 31st at 5:35 p.m. at Cumberland County Civic Center

– Monday, January 19th at 1:05 p.m. at Cumberland County Civic Center

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At the Annual Board of Governors meeting, the AHL passed several new rules, in which some will get rave reviews and other’s constant boo’s.

Getting a rave review is the AHL finally getting in line with the rest of pro hockey, going with a standard roster of 18 skaters and two goaltenders. As I’ve said in the past, this is about time the AHL came to the realization that they need to add an extra skater because how many times during the regular season, especially during a three-in-three weekend did we see a higher end prospects just worn out after being double shifted for three games. The games should improve now because teams are now able to roll four lines with three pairs of defenseman.

Other rules changes getting rave reviews

Rule 60.3 (“High-Sticking”) now calls for a double-minor penalty (rather than a major) in the event of a high-sticking infraction that causes injury, whether accidental or careless, in the opinion of the referee.

A change to Rule 81.1 (“Icing”) states that “Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player.”

A change to Rule 85.5 (“Face-Off Location”) provides that if a puck is shot off the goal frame, goal post or crossbar, the subsequent face-off will remain in the end zone where the puck went out of play.

One rule change that hasn’t received positive feedback is the delay of game penalty, if a player or goaltender shoots the puck over the glass. The rule has been dreaded by many in the NHL because it creates artifical power plays as inopportune times, something the AHL witness first hand, which led them to drop the rule after one year, but in order to align themselves with the NHL rulebook they reinstated it. – Bad Idea!

Another rule, the AHL has implemented at the NHL’s request to experiment is one minute minor penalties in overtime, instead of two minutes like in regulation. The thought process is when a team receives a 4-on-3 power play for two minutes in overtime they receive a disproportionate advantage compared with a two minute minor in regulation.

While that maybe true, the thought of a one-minute minor is another sign of how out of touch the NHL back office is with it’s fan base, messing with a game when nothing was wrong with it. I didn’t like four-on-four, but I’ve grown to deal with it – the shootout, forget it – but instead of going with a one-minute penalty, why not just add a skater to the team getting a power player. If a team gets a penalty, instead of going to four on three, make it a five on four for two minutes just as you would in regulation.

Seems like a simple fix to me.

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The AHL Board of Governors also approved the transfer of ownership of the Peoria Rivermen to the St. Louis Blues and ownership of the inactive Edmonton Oilers franchise to Rexall Sports Corp., after last week’s approval of the sale of the Oilers by the NHL to Darryl Katz.

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