Stricken with the flu over the weekend. I was unable to attend the puck drop on the pre post season. I hear, and see, as reflected in the scores that once again Cleveland put together some very solid teams, and for a seemingly 3rd year in a row, Sylvania. We are again seeing a nice spike, that was anticipated, in the depth of the 96's. Which is mirroring past cycles of about 3-4 years. It should be a good pre-post season.
We still need our states HS coach to band together and make a stand at the state level. Fixing the hockey model. Where it is imperative there be establish two division and two titles. As well as rule changes and clarifications. We have some serious officiating issues, those being directly related to the fact that Ohio has elite level players. Who just because they skate faster, are far more advanced, are better along in fitness levels, hit harder. Hitting hard is NOT a penalty. Hitting a player with in moments after he dishes the puck is not a penalty ( and if his head snaps and hits the player its NOT CONTACT TO THE HEAD, one could well argue that, that is a head butt). The next issue no one is going to like, its a third rail, but here goes. Fighting, needs to be allowed. Why? Fighting prevents injuries, and in no way am I referring to the inglorious pre scripted bouts that are abound in Jr hockey and pro, just the in the moment bouts that come from cheap as hell play and stick work. I am seeing way way way more nasty uses of the stick than ever before, cross checks to the back of the head and a good fight will for most of these players be an abrupt end to the issue. The issue being those who are hacking away at ankles, and legs, or spearing and butt ending will learn quickly just how intolerable their seedy dirty play is, head on, toe to toe. The Rule on fighting should be... 1. first offense in a game a 5 min roughing. 2. Second offense in a game 2 and 10min roughing and 3 3rd offense delay of game, 2 min, 10 fighting major and game misconduct and ejection.
Next its on the docket that the NCAA will be going to visors. HS hockey should mirror this move, for all the same reasons.
Aside from another season of more of the same, and living under state set of guidelines for a sport that is not run by hockey minded people, we will have a good season and make due. I will make one preseason prediction right now. That being, that this years state champion will be from Cleveland, and will be a public school. Even with Ignatius on the war path, and the St Johns day schoolers at their best.
As I was looking over the protected lists from the various Jr hockey leagues this weekend a few things jumped out. One, lots of Ohio players and Ohio HS in particular have made the leap, far more than in years passed. This is a statement to the hockey world that Ohio HS and its broad scope of modern coaches are developing talent, but more so still, that the teams are not just watching, they are seeing the same. That two, and we see this written all the time. There are good Jr hockey leagues and bad, and that you can not advance if your not playing. Case and point the NA3HL. The NA3HL, which has special provisional tenders with he NAHL, that do not count against the 9 tenders each team posses out right at the start of each season, had only 2 players matriculate to the NAHL this season. The EXACT same number of Ohio HS players. So its a nasty double edged sword, but one where the player is left wielding the blade. Work hard and you can advance from anywhere, but its far better to start some where, and to do so you only need to look a franchises- coaches-leagues track record of historical placements.
Ohio's early spotlight players coming in the next submission.