The modifications are intended to put a greater emphasis on the offense.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Central Hockey League has voted to ignore the red line for the purposes of two-line offside passes during the 2005-06 season.
The rule was changed in an effort to open up the neutral zone and provide for greater scoring opportunities.
The change was one of several the league made. The Youngstown SteelHounds will be an expansion team when the CHL opens on Oct. 21.
Also allowing for more action in the offensive zone, CHL goaltenders will be restricted from playing the puck behind their net outside of a specific outlined area.
Additionally, the standard for obstruction penalties will be much tighter than in past seasons, with a greater focus on increasing game flow.
Also approved was the elimination of a penalty for illegal stick curvature.
Two existing rules have been modified. Following the regular five-minute 4-on-4 overtime, the CHL will remain with a five-man shoot-out format prior to proceeding to a sudden-death shoot-out. Only 10 players per team may participate in the shootout, if necessary, before the order reverts back to the first shooter.
Automatic icing will remain in effect; however, the ability for the linesmen to nullify apparent infractions if deemed to be the result of an attempted pass will be tested in preseason games.
Playing for points
While there is no mandate to decrease the size of the goaltender equipment until the 2006-07 season, teams will be preparing their goaltenders as necessary for call-ups according to the guidelines of the American Hockey League.
Many of these changes have been made in an attempt to promote offense and increase the flow of the game, despite the fact that the CHL actually saw an increase in scoring last season.
CHL scoring went up from an average of 5.92 total goals per game in 2003-04 to 6.05 total goals in 2004-05.
The Central Hockey League enters its 14th season of play in October having led all North American "AA" leagues in average attendance for four consecutive seasons.
The league has 15 teams in seven states.