Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - Submitted by Bernard McNamara
Nothing gets hockey crowds pumped up like a big goal, but do more goals equal bigger crowds? That’s a question the NHL is asking, as the league competes for the sports fans in non-traditional hockey markets. With goals scoring down in the NHL, the league’s Governors and General Managers are considering some radical ideas that could change the way the hockey is played all over the world.
During the 2014-15 NHL season, the league averaged 5.3 goals per game, according to Quanthockey.com. Despite a number of the rule tweaks in recent years to make the game faster, the average number of goals per in game has been declining for the past nine seasons.
One of the more controversial solutions being considered is to increase the size of the goals. Supporters of the bigger net argue the increased in size and skill of an NHL goalie is limiting scoring chances for offensively gifted players. A more tempered response along the same lines could also be to reduce the size of the goalie equipment, increasing the area of the net skater have to shoot at.
While increasing the size of goals might solve the NHL’s problem, the decision could have ramifications for the rest of the hockey world. Would the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) follow suite? Are hockey fans worldwide calling for such a drastic solution to a North American problem? Are we confronted with the same problem in the AIHL?
Over the past five seasons, the AIHL has averaged 7.76 goals per game. In season 2015, goal scoring was up, with an average of the 8.02 goals per game. Last season also saw new individual scoring records for both goals and assists as Newcastle North Stars import Geordie Wudrick lit up the league. It should also be noted that the AIHL individual scoring record has been broken twice in the last five seasons (Addison De Boer 2011, Geordie Wudrick 2015).
It’s fair to say that we love goal scoring down under. The video of Brian Bales penalty shot winner to clinch the Goodall cup has been viewed over the 12 thousand times on Facebook and was shared and replayed around the world.
The AIHL welcomed a slew of offensively talented imports in the season 2015 and crowds were treated to buffet goal scoring treats. As we prepare for season 2016, anticipation only grows as to whether the goal scoring feats of 2015 can be repeated.
AIHL goalies shouldn’t lose any sleep this off-season. There are no plans to increase the size of AIHL goals in the near future. However, as the game of hockey evolves in the other leagues around the world, the AIHL is well positioned to watch these experiments unfold, and refine and grow the game in Australia.