The American Hockey League is following the footsteps of the NHL with rule changes for next season.
The AHL Board of Governors has approved the league’s decision to go to a five minute 3-on-3 format for overtime scrapping the 4-on-4 portion. Overtime will be preceded by a dry scrape. If the game remains tied after overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.
The league is also adopting the NHL’s coach’s challenge for video review. The coach will only be allowed to challenge a play if they have a timeout available and will lose the timeout, if the call on the ice is not over turned. The AHL currently uses a single overhead camera to determine whether the puck crossed the goal line, whether the net was dislodged or whether time has expired. According to an AHL spokesman, the coach’s challenge will not extend beyond that.
The AHL will also have changes to its face-off alignment for next season. For all face-offs (excluding center ice) the defending player will be required to put their stick down first. At center ice, the visiting player will place his stick on the ice first.
The league announced the five California-based clubs (Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose and Stockton) will play 68 games each next season while the rest of the league will play 76 games each.
As a result of the difference in games played, playoff spots will be determined by points percentage.
Here’s more from the release:
Teams will receive two points for a win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. The top four teams ineach division ranked by points percentage (points earned divided by points available) will qualify for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, with one exception in each conference: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic or Central Division finishes with a better points percentage than the fourth-place team in the North or Pacific Division, it would cross over and compete in the other division’s bracket.
The 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature a divisional playoff format, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals.
The division semifinals are best-of-five series; all subsequent rounds are best-of-seven.