Anyone who has ever played or watched hockey knows the utter frustration that comes when the opposing defenders poke the puck out of your team’s offensive zone. Nothing disrupts a team’s rhythm more. Not only do the attackers have to skate back to retrieve it, but the entire team must skate back over the blue line before taking the puck back in.

Michigan coach Red Berenson knows the feeling. In an effort to save himself some headaches and make sure that NCAA officials were doing their best to create a more offensive game, Berenson decided to give his two cents on the matter.

“I was just thinking one day while I was on a road trip,” Berenson said. “I hate to see the puck come over the blue line by an inch and then everybody has to pull out and play a delayed offside game. It pretty much allows the other team out of the zone.”

Berenson proposed a rule change that has come to be known as the “Berenson Boundary.” Instead of hockey’s typical offside rule, which prevents players from crossing the blue line before the puck, the new rule makes the center line the boundary of the offensive zone once the attackers have crossed the blue line.

The actual effects of this change remain to be seen, but if it’s put in place permanently, it would allow for extra space to create new offensive schemes and make it tougher to clear the puck from a team’s defensive zone.

Berenson’s proposed solution has been approved for use in NCAA exhibition games this season and will be featured in tomorrow’s Blue and White game and the exhibition game against Toronto on Sunday. For this weekend, Berenson has no special strategies to capitalize on the extra space.

“I don’t want to get our team too worried about it,” Berenson said. “I just want to play it with those rules and see what happens. I told the Toronto coach the same thing. It’s just an experimental rule. I can’t tell you if it will be beneficial to our team playing good hockey or not, but we’re going to try it.”

But the Wolverines have started to think about the rule’s impact. Freshman Andrew Cogliano is familiar with the rule and believes a permanent change would alter the face of the power play.

“I think it might force the points to be higher on the power play,” Cogliano said. “It could allow for more two-on-ones in the zone. But we really have to play the game to see what will happen.”

In addition to the proposed rule change, this weekend will give Michigan fans their first look at the team’s 11 new freshmen before the regular season begins next Friday. The freshmen class features two first round draft picks – defenseman Jack Johnson and forward Andrew Cogliano – and Billy Sauer, the heir-apparent to the goaltending position vacated by Al Montoya’s departure for the NHL.

“I can’t tell you that we’ve decided (on a goaltender),” Berenson said. “I’d like to see Billy get in there and get off to a good start. We’ll see whether we need Noah (Ruden) to come in and help him or not.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.