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Ice Hockey: New laws will mean bonanza for fans; ICE HOCKEY: Clampdown on negative tactics will make game more exciting to watch.

Byline: By Matt Bozeat

CASSIDY COVENTRY blaze head coach Paul Thompson predicts goals galore in the forthcoming season.

Thompson has backed the EIHL's decision to follow the NHL's lead and adopt a "zero tolerance" attitude that will clamp down on spoiling tactics and give flair players a licence to thrill the crowds.

Among the other rule changes is the introduction of an extra period and penalty shoot out to determine the winner in the event of a tied game.

Blaze start their Elite League season with a trip to Sheffield Steelers on Saturday and Thompson said: "All the league is doing is implementing the rules that have always been there.

"We are trying to change the way the game is played because we need to take away the clutching, grabbing and holding.

"There should be more offence, more goals and more bums on seats this season. This is a business and people want to be entertained. They want to see goals.

"The best players should be able to show how good they are rather than being stopped by all the holding and grabbing that goes on. There will be more speed and more action. The NHL has shown that these measures work."

The clamp down should benefit the likes of Blaze forwards Dan Carlson and Adam Calder and Thompson said: "It will work in our favour because our forwards are small and nippy.

"There were penalties being called in our pre-season games and it's going to be tough, but theb referees aren't going to take the physical side out of the game."

Thompson has spoken to his side's blue line to ensure they do not attract too much attention from the officials.

Blaze conceded 18 penalty minutes in the opening period of last week's exhibition game with Solihull Barons at the Skydome before showing signs they were getting to grips with the new regulations.

"We've had a meeting to run through everything," said Thompson, "because there are going to be a lot of penalties called in the opening few games. I want to make sure our players can adjust."

Rule changes for the new season

ZERO tolerance for hooking, holding, tripping, slashing, cross checking and interference.

PLAYERS who use their stick or freehand to slow an opposing player will be penalised. Essentially, if you keep both of your hands on your stick, body to body or stick to stick contact is generally fine. Stick to body or body to stick is not.

INTRODUCTION of the NHL system for fighting. A player may have three fights in a game and for each fight ill receive a five-minute major penalty. The third fighting major in any game will also include an automatic game misconduct penalty. The referee may also call additional instigator/ aggressor penalties at the same time.

TOUCH icing will replace automatic icing. Icing will not be called until a defending skater (not goalie) touches the puck.

A TEAM icing the puck will not be permitted to make a line change before the ensuing face off.

I IF A player in his own defensive zone shoots the puck directly out of the playing area, his team shall not be permitted to make a line change prior to the ensuing face off.

TIED GAMES. In the event of a regulation time tie, there will be a five minute period played four on four. If the scores are still tied, there will be a best-of-three penalty shoot-out. Both will get one point if tied at the end of regulation time.

CAPTION(S):

TIGHTENING UP... Players' stick work will be under the microscope now that new rules have been introduced to clamp down on spoiling tactics
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 7, 2006
Words:612
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