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The Auburn Hockey Report 12/31/21

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Icing, emergency backup goalies, and scheduling stuff.

Image via Ben Dodds, Auburn Hockey

Welcome back to the Auburn Hockey Report, the internet’s foremost (only) annual publication covering the Collegiate Hockey Federation’s Auburn Tigers Hockey Club. This week’s entry into the series will be brief, given a lack of general happenings around the team and the club leagues, but there’s still some content worth discussion for today.

To read last week’s edition, click here.

First Period: Crash Course

We’re changing things up a bit for today. Since I didn’t have much time or energy to solicit reader questions for this week, I decided a little rules explainer for something basic would be in order. While I don’t want to spend huge chunks of each week explaining a bunch of stuff you could find in the NCAA or NHL’s rulebooks, going over a few basic points of how hockey works doesn’t seem like it’ll hurt anybody. “Crash Course” will be breaking down one or two rules in hockey and providing background on why they exist.

Icing

Icing is a funky rule that most people watching hockey struggle to understand. With most of the other regulations and facets of play taking place on the rink, people often get confused by seemingly random stoppages that pepper games. In reality, many of these pauses in play are caused by “icing,” a rule that is something between a penalty and, well, not a penalty. The Chicago Wolves, an AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, succinctly define it as such:

Icing is when a player on his team’s side of the red center line shoots the puck all the way down the ice and it crosses the red goal line at any point (other than the goal). Icing is not permitted when teams are at equal strength or on the power play. When this occurs, play is stopped and the puck is returned to the other end of the ice for a face-off in the offending team’s zone. Icing the puck is not called if: the goalie leaves the crease to play the puck, even if he does not touch the puck; if an official rules an opposing player could have played the puck before it crossed the red goal line; an official may waive off the icing call if he deems it was an attempted pass.

Why does this rule exist? Well, it didn’t until the 1930s, when teams began taking advantage of the lack of repercussions for launching the puck to the opposite end of the ice whenever they were playing defense. Theoretically, without icing being a rule teams could go up one goal and then just dump the puck into the other zone until the clock ran out. That wouldn’t make for a very entertaining game, so the rule was invented.

In the early 2000s, an extra incentive to prevent icing was added in the midst of the NHL’s peak of trap-style play (a system that slowed down the game and reduced scoring to unprecedented lows). In an effort to speed the game up and prevent repeated icings, the league ruled that when the puck is iced, you aren’t allowed to replace the players who were out on the rink when said icing occurred.

In hockey, this is a big deal. Getting line changes (substitutions of your groups of players) on a frequent basis is of enormous importance; players typically don’t take shifts for more than a minute or two and like to refresh themselves with brief stints on the bench at frequent intervals. If you have a bunch of tired guys stuck taking a face-off in their defensive zone, that’s a problem. Repeated icings can crush your team’s endurance and eventually lead to opposing scoring chances and goals.

The exception for icing is when your team is on the penalty kill. When one of your players takes a penalty (let’s say he slashes someone on the wrists with their stick), they sit in the penalty box for an amount of time (usually two minutes) while their team plays with one less player. To compensate for this enormous disadvantage, the penalty killing team is allowed to ice the puck as much as they want with no consequences, helping them run more time off of the clock until their penalized player can return.

For an additional, simplified, yet still informative explanation, here’s noted hockey fan Snoop Dogg:

Second Period: Fireside Chat

It’s been a quiet week in the front office, mostly occupied by waiting for things to happen. Here’s the rundown.

What we’ve been working on:

  • Finalizing the details of the apparel store set to launch by the second week of January
  • Getting feedback on how to run the program from UGA hockey’s leadership
  • Contacting Liberty University’s club sports department to ask about fiscal and structural information behind their program
  • Contacting NC State’s student video workers to ask about their production equipment and strategy
  • Developing a social media content calendar
  • Working through jersey orders

Not a ton to talk about, obviously, but rest assured that just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that everything ground to a total halt. Auburn Hockey never truly stops running.

Third Period: Three Big Things

  1. There are some rumblings that Auburn’s road game against UGA in February is going to be something special. The details are still being worked out and I can’t reveal the specifics yet, but fans should get excited and consider buying tickets the moment they’re made available.
  2. An ACHA D-III goaltender started a game after getting the call to be the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies’ emergency backup goalie. Coming out of Grand Canyon University, Brady Devries got to fulfill his dream of playing professional hockey, if only for a moment, and nabbed a win in his debut. An amazing story worth keeping an eye on, as the current ACHA rules would rob Devries of his remaining eligibility in the league after having played an ECHL game. Hopefully the league’s brass makes the right call on that one.
  3. Hearing that Auburn and Vanderbilt are looking to cement some games in the 2022 season, although I’m not sure if anything is a done deal yet. Will look to bring more updates on this and next year’s scheduling situation in the next edition.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Apologies for the abbreviated content, but when there’s not much hockey being played in the ACHA/CHF it can be difficult to come up with anything newsworthy. Until next time, good day, and good hockey.