April 17th, 2018, Kloten and Rapperswil faced each other for game-3 of the League Qualification series. Kloten won 3-2 thanks to Denis Hollenstein’s goal scored after 102 minutes and 32 seconds of play. March 14th, 2019, Bern and Genève Servette faced each other for game-3 of the quarterfinal series. Genève Servette won 3-2 thanks to Johan Fransson’s goal scored after 95 minutes and 49 seconds of play. Finally, March 16th, 2019, Lugano and Zug faced each other for game-4 of the quarterfinal series. Zug won 5-4 thanks to Brian Flynn’s goal scored after 95 minutes and 33 seconds of play.
Yep, we’re talking about the three longest games of our National League. This happened because of the fact that, starting from the 2017-18 season, there are no more shootouts during playoffs games.
Is it right or not to make the players, referees and fans so exhausted?
YES, IT’S RIGHT BECAUSE…
The essence of ice hockey
Ice hockey is a sport for real men that, especially during the playoffs, go beyond the bounds of their physical and mental limits. Essentially, the fact that the game is just extended as normal until someone scores… it’s the essence of ice hockey.
Those who were lucky enough – or unlucky, up to you… – to attend the games played in Kloten, Bern and Lugano… and those who were able to resist until after midnight… had the chance to assist in some real show. To some real battle of nerves.
Shootouts aren’t the best way to establish who is the winner. That’s because, even though if on the one hand the players’ techical skills emerge… on the other hand, shootouts are some sort of lottery. Way too many external factors affect the result during shootouts. We think it’s fairer that it’s a team play and not an individual one to establish who is the winner of an ice hockey game. Ice hockey is a team sport, after all.
NO, IT’S WRONG BECAUSE…
We didn’t ask players what they think, therefore we have no idea what’s their opinion. But to see these guys that, after almost 100 minutes of play, are literally exhausted, with their tongues on the ice and mentally and physically destroyed… well, it’s not healthy.
During the game Bern – Genève Servette, Henrik Tömmernes played 40 minutes and 56 seconds. That’s a record. But what about the referees?! Oftentimes there is a lot of criticism – at times rightly so – but refs must be under optimum conditions in order to stay focused. And let us not forget – even though this was just an accident – that Mark Lemlin and Alex Dipietro were the refs of both games Bern – Genève Servette and Lugano – Zug. In other words, the two refs have had a “time on ice” of 191 minutes and 12 seconds in just 2 days. So much for Henrik Tömmernes’ record 🙂
Especially in Bern, some fans left the PostFinance Arena after the first overtime period. Understandably so, it was a thursday night, after all… moreover, let us not forget that these overtime periods risk being real snooze-festivals when teams are scared to lose. We mean, in a way, it’s not always entertaining.
Personally, we’re in favour of the fact that there are no more shootouts during playoffs games. Because of the three reasons mentioned above.
It’s right that a winner of a playoffs’ hockey game is established thanks to a team play and not an individual one. Then sure, shootouts at times are entertaining… but they’re ok, in our opinion, only during the Regular Season.
Whoever was lucky enough to attend one or more of the three games mentioned at the beginning of this article, probably realizes that the overtime periods became some sort of a second and brand new game. The environment became somehow surreal as the games went on… the buvettes probably run out of beer… the fans were probably even more immersed in the games because of tiredness… and what about the joy of whoever scored the game winning goal? These are feelings you experience only once in a lifetime.
Or rather, if you’re Mark Lemlin and Alex Dipietro, you probably were lucky enough to experience certain feelings twice 🙂
Damiano Cansani, Barbara Kurdziel