NYSPHSAA approves instant replay for postseason


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The Blue Devils defeated Niagara-Wheatfield 5-1 Sunday at HarborCenter in Buffalo. (March 11, 2018)
Sal Maioranao

A major proposal was approved on Wednesday at the annual New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) meeting for the Central Committee in Lake Placid. 

The committee approved the use of video replay in boys ice hockey postseason play when applicable. Replay can be used to determine whether a goal was scored and assure the correct time on the game clock.

The need for accuracy was the central factor in the committee opting for the major change.

“With technology the way it is now, it’s much more prevalent. It’s more obtainable to look at and its not for the regular season, it’s just for our state tournament,” Section V chairperson Scott Morrison said. 

The landmark decision adds New York state to a small, but growing number of states experimenting with video replay. Alabama and New Jersey approved the use of replay in football earlier this year and Morrison wouldn’t be surprised to see other sports follow behind hockey.

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“I think it would be leading to other sports using it. They have the same access that we do for video replay. The sports that have that access, I think that will be happening,” Morrison said.

Momentum began building for the use of video replay last March after the state championships after organizers realized the HarborCenter possessed the replay technology.

“It was presented to us that maybe we should try to this. The Hockey Committee, made up of the sections that play hockey across the state, took it a step further and said if we have this technology in the HarborCenter, what if we had it in other arenas that we play state playoff games in?” Chris Watson, NYPHSAA media coordinator said.

“They agreed that was in the best interest of the sport. They took it another step further and said why not all playoff games and that’s how it worked back to the sectional level. If the arena has the technology then they can use it to check for the goals, the no-goals, and the game clock situation.”

For the head of Section V officials, Joe Carusone, the new rules don’t change much of the job description, but they do offer officials more tools to be accurate.

“It doesn’t really change the job of the officials. We should still be officiating the job the same way we would even without the cameras,” Carusone said. “Having the cameras for any official will be beneficial.

“The bottom line is we want to get the call right, so if we have tools in place that are accessible to us and that we can use to make sure the call is correct then we’re all for it.”

Penfield forward Jack Schlifke, a two-time All Greater Rochester pick, was optimistic about the change as he believes another set of eyes will only improve the game.

“I’m all right with that change, there are only two refs in high school hockey as opposed to colleges or the pros,” Schlifke said. “With only two (sets of) eyes it makes it harder for them to see everything. The extra eyes are really going to help the game and make calls right.”

While the change has been welcomed, it has not come without concern with the main question being just how many venues will have access to this technology?

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Gene Polisseni Center and the HarborCenter in Buffalo are two arenas certain to have the necessary replay equipment, but finding more venues that do and also someone to operate it could be a hurdle.

“Not all the rinks we use currently have cameras or they may not allow us to insert cameras,” Carusone said. “It’s a very big expense at the college level and we would need someone to coordinate using that equipment which is another expense. I’m not sure how that factors into the state and how they’re going to pay for it. With the colleges that do have it like RIT, we have to see if they would even allow us to use their equipment.”

Overall Carusone doesn’t anticipate any trouble implementing replay as a number of Section V officials have experience and training in instant replay use at the college level.

The other major change is the increase of periods from 15 minutes to 17½. Minor penalties are increasing from 1½ to 2 minutes and major penalties are going from 4 to 5 minutes.

Misconduct penalties are also moving from 7 ½ minutes to 10.

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Mike Ferreri, varisty head coach for the Victor High School hockey team, guides his players through practice Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016 at Thomas Creek Ice Arena in Fairport.  (Photo: SHAWN DOWD/@sdowdphoto/, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

It will test the depth of some teams, but Victor’s Mike Ferreri, who coached his team to the Division I state championship last winter, is pleased the NYPHSAA is moving closer in line with national guidelines.

“The main reason was it aligned with the national federation rule book, which we haven’t been in line with as far as time,” Ferreri said. “I think for the teams that have depth it’s going to help some teams out. Having that 2-minute power play is going to force teams to have multiple units for power plays. Maybe it will create more opportunities for kids to get on the ice in those situations. I think there will be some positives for that.”

For Schlifke, the time increase will test conditioning in the offseason and will make competitive contests on the ice even more competitive.

“Longer periods will have a good impact on the game. High school hockey games are normally really close and any game can go either way. Just adding those extra two minutes is really impactful and better for the game.”

Finally, the committee also approved a new six year regional rotation plan after the last six year cycle concluded last season.

“The regional rotation doesn’t change a great deal. The only thing is the at-larges,” Watson said. “Division II gets those at-larges every year because of the odd number of sections and teams we have. This year Section VI will have the at-large and they will have to travel to Section I for a regional playoff game.

“We know that’s a lot of travel for a regional playoff game, but the committee felt like any team that was given an opportunity to be in a state tournament as an at-large team would welcome the opportunity to travel anywhere to play a game because it keeps the dream of a state title alive.”

In most sports Section V teams face Section VI teams in the regionals prior to the state semifinals and finals. With this system in place, Section V regional opponents will continue to alternate on a yearly basis.

“Section V doesn’t always play Section VI in hockey. We’ll play Section II for the regionals (this season) before we get to the semi and finals. We try to rotate that around, it’s trying to prevent the two best teams being eliminated before they make it to the HarborCenter,” Morrison said.

Ferreri believes the rotation will continue to be a positive development and will end being fairer to the tougher regions that produce multiple contenders in the postseason.

“The state’s done a good job, because there was a rotation previously. It’s basically like you draw out of a hat and it just kind of rotates who you pick,” Ferreri said. “I think this is positive, because hockey is a little different from other sports. Not every section may have a team coming out in postseason play.

“I think if you rotate around you won’t have to play the top sections every year for a chance to get into that Final Four round. Selfishly for us, I think Section V is one of the strongest overall and I think Section VI is another of them, so is Section III. We have a lot of quality teams and we’re all in that same region. I think rotating is the fairest way.”

The committee concluded the two-day meeting by moving the 2019 NYSPHSAA baseball championships from week 49 of the standard calendar to week 50. The championships will take now place on Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15 in the greater Binghamton area.

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