New rules hardly affecting play of Sound Tiger goalies
By MICHAEL FORNABAIO
Some changes are subtle, some are double-wide obvious, but the AHL's
new rules don't seem to have much affected the way the Bridgeport
Sound Tigers play.
Goaltenders, who are no longer allowed to play the puck in the
corners, would seem to have the most adjusting to do, but
Bridgeport's Wade Dubielewicz and Dieter Kochan said that hasn't been
a big problem.
"In a strange way, it's a little easier," Kochan said.
"For a while, you felt a little caged. Overall, I don't know how much
of an effect it's going to have."
Goalies may play the puck in an area directly behind the net, but
another change has made that a little more difficult. The league cut
the distance from the goal line to the end boards by two feet, from
13 to 11.
A goalie can stop the puck back there for his defensemen, but he
might find himself in a traffic jam, particularly if the opponent has
a forechecker chasing closely.
"It's tight back there," Dubielewicz said. "You get back and stop the
puck, you've got to get out of there quickly."
The goalies have had to learn to time the puck as it skims along the
boards toward the area where they can play it.
Defenseman Richard Seeley said getting used to the tighter goalie-
defense handoff hasn't been too hard. He also noted at the same time
that he had never played with a goalie who handles the puck as much
as, say, former Sound Tiger Rick DiPietro.
The rule is designed to keep goaltenders like DiPietro from getting
to pucks and moving them back up-ice before the attacking team can
"I just try to reinforce dumps, how important it is to get it in an
area where the goalie can't play it," said Bridgeport coach Greg
Cronin, who said he hasn't tweaked his systems substantially in
response to any new rule.
The reduced space behind the net, combined with doubling the red and
blue lines from one foot to two, has added space to the neutral zone.
Seeley, who is in his sixth AHL season, said other rules haven't
forced too much of a change.
"No-touch icing is definitely a little different," Seeley
said. "There's a little less skating for a defenseman, a little less
chance of getting run."
Cronin said it didn't seem like some players had adjusted to the
return of tag-up offside, which allows them to put the puck back into
the zone immediately after their opponents clear it.
Another adjustment is using the entire breadth of the wider blue line
on the power play. Pointmen have grown up knowing that, if the puck
touches the blue line, they are just one foot away from the neutral
zone. Now, a puck touching the blue line is two feet away.
"If they stickhandle on the blue line, it's not that much of a danger
zone," Cronin said. "We've got to move the puck on the power play,
and that's what we worked on this week."
The tricky part this week, since the team has been away from the
Arena at Harbor Yard, is that their practice sheet at The Rinks at
Shelton has the markings that are standard for just about everyone
else, the ones the AHL used last year: one-foot-wide lines, with 13
feet of space behind the net.
Kochan, incidentally, was briefly a teammate of Sergei Zholtok when
they both played for the Minnesota Wild. Kochan remembered Zholtok,
who died Wednesday in Belarus at age 31 while playing for a team from
his native Latvia, as a "good guy" in their short time together.
Former Sound Tigers forward Derek Bekar signed Thursday with the
Dundee Stars in Scotland.