By Richard Bright
Is change always a good thing? In sport or business it will always divide opinion. The latest in hockey comes via Hockey Australia as it aims to create more ‘celebratory moments’ this month and find more fans to engage before a revamped league next year.
The 2018 Australian Hockey League (AHL) starts this weekend and will include several rule innovations and game modifications leading up to the AHL Finals on the Gold Coast between October 25-28.
Earlier this year, Hockey Australia confirmed it would establish an ambitious reimagined franchise-style Hockey league in 2019, with this year’s last-ever AHL to be used as a pilot.
The 2018 AHL begins on Saturday with matches between NSW and Queenland in Sydney and Tasmania and ACT in Hobart, followed by SA-WA in Adelaide and NT-Victoria in Darwin.
Among the rules are the introduction of two five-minute PumpPlays, field goal conversions and penalty shootouts for drawn games.
The modifications received some negative reaction on social media ahead of the opening weekend.
Were these improvements drawn up by a disgruntled ex-Nike employee?
I can't look at kids in the face and tell them that we're in a 5-minute PumpPlay. It's embarrassing.
— Amarjeet Singh (@Amj_Singh) October 5, 2018
HA understands the rule innovations and game modifications are a change from traditional Hockey but introduced with a view to creating more ‘celebratory moments’ and excitement for the fans, and also to pilot them before the new league is launched next year.
Feedback will be sought from players, coaches, officials and fans throughout and following the 2018 AHL about the rule innovations and game modifications.
HA chief executive Matt Favier said: “We want to celebrate what will be the final running of the current, traditional AHL but also test and trial some of the new game innovations that we intend to include in the revised league model for 2019.”
I am totally with Hockey Australia(HA) on this one. Why does the world have so many issues as long as HA feels that fans will be able to engage better with these changes?
I've seen hockey fan following dwindle for way too long. Such changes are good for local leagues. Go HA!
— Abhi Jain (@abhijain298) October 5, 2018
A field goal conversion
When a field goal is scored the same athlete will have an automatic one-on-one shootout with the goalkeeper for an extra goal.
2 x 5-minute PumpPlays
Each team possesses a five-minute PumpPlay to use at the end of either the second or fourth quarters, when teams are reduced to nine players each and where that team’s goals are worth double (conversions remain worth only one goal).
The allocation of PumpPlays will be decided by the team which wins a pre-game coin toss. For example, if the coin toss winner elects to take their PumpPlay at end of the fourth quarter, the opposition must use at theirs at the end of the second quarter.
In the second and fourth quarters, the clock is initially set for 10 minutes, then re-set for a further five minutes for the PumpPlay. Play will re-commence with a centre pass taken by the team in possession of the PumpPlay.
No drawn matches
All matches must have an outright result so drawn matches will be decided in a penalty shootout. Match points will be as follows:
5 points for a win,
2 points to each team in the event of a draw,
A shootout will occur to determine the outright winner,
1 point will be awarded to the winner of the shoot-out,
0 points to the loser of the match.