WHL Introduces New Rules/Play-off Format

The Western Hockey League today announced a series of rule changes for the upcoming 2014-15 WHL Season, which opens Friday evening.

Rule changes for the 2014-15 WHL Season were tested during pre-season and most of the changes adopted by the National Hockey League (NHL):

*Indicates rule adopted by the NHL
1) Overtime
• During the regular season, at the end of the third period of a tied game, there will be a two minute break prior to the start of a five (5) minute sudden-death overtime period (same as in previous seasons).
• *The Clubs must change ends for the overtime period.

2) Shootout
• Should a regular season game be tied after the five (5) minute sudden-death overtime period, the Zamboni(s) will do a dry scrape of the middle of the ice (same as in previous seasons).
• *The Clubs must change ends again for the shootout.
• *The home team shall have the choice of shooting first or second, and the Clubs shall alternate shots.
• *The spin-o-rama type move where the player completes a 360 degree turn as he approaches the goal shall not be permitted. Should a player perform such a move during the penalty shot, the shot shall be stopped immediately by the referee, and no goal shall be permitted. (This also applies on regular penalty shot situations during a game)

3) Tripping
• *A two minute minor penalty will be assessed when a defending player “dives” and trips an attacking player with his stick, body, arm or shoulder, regardless of whether the defending player is able to make initial contact with the puck.
• *In situations where a penalty shot might otherwise be appropriate, if the defending player “dives” and touches the puck first (before the trip), no penalty shot will be awarded. (In such cases, the resulting penalty will be limited to a two minute minor for tripping).

4) No Change Icing
• *When a Club commits a no change icing infraction, a face-off violation by that team will not result in the center being removed.
• *Instead, the center will be warned by the linesman that his Club has committed their first face-off violation. The linesman will then conduct the face-off as quickly as possible.
• *Any second violation by that same Club, on the same stoppage, will result in a bench minor penalty for delay of game (face-off violation) being assessed.
• *If the center attempts to arrive at the face-off spot just as the five seconds elapse to gain an advantage to win the face-off, he shall not be removed from the face-off. The center will be warned by the linesman that his Club has committed a face-off violation. In the event the center then commits a second face-off violation, or the action is actually the second face-off violation, a bench minor penalty for delay of game will be assessed.

5) Puck Out of Bounds
With respect to the attacking Club being responsible for the puck going out of play in the attacking zone, the following exceptions apply, and as a result, the face-off shall be conducted at one of the face-off spots in the attacking zone:

• *Shot at the net that deflects off the goal post or crossbar and out of play
• *Shot at the net that breaks the glass
• *Shot at the net that goes off the side of the net and out of play
• *Shot at the net that goes off the dasher boards or glass and out of play
• *Shot at the net that is tipped or deflected by a teammate out of play
• *Shot at the net that becomes wedged in or on the exterior of the goal net

6) Video Goal Judge Reviewable Situation
• When a goal has been scored and the Video Goal Judge has conclusive video evidence that the puck hit the netting (therefore out of play) and went back onto the ice surface which was undetected by the on-ice officials, this goal shall not be allowed. If the puck subsequently leaves the attacking zone after hitting the net, this play is no longer reviewable by the Video Goal Judge.

The Western Hockey League will have a new playoff format for the 2015 WHL Playoffs. The new format mirrors that of the National Hockey League and is designed to enhance Divisional rivalries in the First Round of the WHL Playoffs.

The Western Hockey League’s Eastern and Western Conferences will use a Divisional/Conference hybrid playoff format, with the inclusion of Wild Card qualifiers, for the 2015 WHL Playoffs. All playoff series are still best-of-seven affairs.

The new format will see the top three Clubs in each Division make up the first six playoff qualifiers within each of the two WHL Conferences. The remaining two spots per Conference will be filled via Wild Cards, with the next two highest-placed Clubs in each Conference earning playoff berths based on their regular season record, regardless of Division.

In the First Round, the Division winner with the best record in each Conference will be matched against the wild card team with the lesser record; the wild card team with the better record will play the other Division winner. The second and third-place teams within each Division will also meet in the First Round.

First-round winners within each bracket play one another in the Second Round with the four winning Clubs advancing to the Conference Championships. Home ice advantage through the first two rounds goes to the Club that placed higher in regular season standings.

The two Clubs winning second round series in each Conference will advance to the third round (WHL Conference Championships), where they will be ranked in order of regular season points.

The Eastern and Western Conference Champions will advance to the best-of-seven WHL Championship Series, with the Club having the most regular season points receiving home ice advantage.

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