Minor Hockey Question for All - Shortening the Bench?

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    Acrobat
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    Minor Hockey Question for All - Shortening the Bench?

    Post by Acrobat on Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:27 pm

    This is a question that seems to come to a head this time of year on a regular basis, and since everyone here is extremely knowledgable about hockey, with varying levels of experience playing, I wondered what the feelings would be:

    The rules of minor hockey in the ODMHA (Ottawa District Minor Hockey Assoc.), and most similar associations in the country, explicitly state that no coach is to shorten the bench for any reason. If a player is deemed "not at a skill level to compete adequately", then he/she should be moved to a lower division to play. There is no provision or differentiation made for competetive and house league, nor for differing age groups. Despite this, we have all seen minor hockey league coaches shorten the bench towards the ends of games, in order to gain or preserve a win.


    1. To those that played competitive, if you were the one sitting, how did you feel? And if you were the one playing, how did you feel?
    2. If you played house league, then did you feel/would you have felt different?
    3. What about goalies (Rec and Rep, and what if one is clearly stronger?)
    4. How strongly would you feel about this if a league/tournament championship lay in the balance?
    5. For those that have become parents, did your opinion as a child differ from your opinion now?

    FWIW - every team I have been involved in (coach, assistant coach), I have tried to roll all lines equally right to the end; this has caused a great deal of friction with parents at times, however I've been lucky enough not to have been in a position where it looks like I'm putting my own child on preferentially (in fact, in soccer, I had to pull him off as it was his turn to rotate off, even though he was one of the stronger players on the team).
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    Re: Minor Hockey Question for All - Shortening the Bench?

    Post by Riprock on Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:03 pm

    I cannot relate this to hockey, but when I played competitive basketball, I did not log a lot of minutes compared to the starting 5, and it hurts your development. Had I not have been sitting a majority of the game on the bench in competitive, I'd be logging equal time (or greater) in the house league division. However, it can be argued that because the quality of play is much higher, that there's a greater reward for playing at a higher skill level. Playing with better players can make you better.

    As for house league where equal participation is enforced (though not always followed), I'm a firm believer that a good coach can make any player better.
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    Re: Minor Hockey Question for All - Shortening the Bench?

    Post by Jordo on Tue Feb 17, 2009 8:11 pm

    I played competitive hockey from Novice until about Bantam (8 years) and played a bit of junior B beyond that. Summer hockey in Atom and Peewee.

    I think your question is more geared towards younger years (below Peewee), because as you get older, there's a clear understanding of who the better players are, and who needs to play at pressure points in pressure games....

    Thinking back, I can remember a few times where the coach would roll one or two lines at the very end of games if it was in a tight bind, but for the most part we rolled lines fairly evenly. Obviously ther wasn't line matching or anything like that going on, but it seems to me everyone got their fair share of ice time.

    It's obviously never a good feeling to sit- but in a team atmosphere, you need to recognize that it's for the good of the group. Hockey is a team sport, and every team has different strengths and weaknesses. If you need goals, you're going to put your best goal scorers out- if you need to prevent goals, you put your best defensive players out. Anybody who is a true team player can recognize this and embrace it... in fact, it might even make certain players work harder to be part of the elite group...

    Keep in mind, I've always been in competitive hockey- so I think the field may be a little different if you're talking about House League or recreational hockey.
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    Re: Minor Hockey Question for All - Shortening the Bench?

    Post by Acrobat on Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:47 pm

    I guess part of the question was geared to the parent side of the issue too.

    The first year my eldest son played in net, he was in novice house, and I was a bench assistant coach (torn knee ligaments). After a tournament game that we ended up tying, one of the parents (of one of the weaker kids) asked why we hadn't had our strongest line out for the last 60 seconds or so, to try for a winner. This question came despite the fact that her son was on the ice, but would have been benched to do that. Her point was that by scoring, we would have been guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, instead of being dependent on outcomes of later games.

    More bizarre, we ended up winning the tournament on a goal scored by her son in the last seconds of the final - who was on the ice because we chose to continue rolling the lines rather than stacking it like the opposition.

    I wonder if it should be accepted even at PeeWee or Bantam - parents pay (lots of) $$$ for the kids to play, and so seeing their son/daughter play much less can't be a pleasant experience. The flip side, though, is that in tournaments, winning often means continuing for more games, thus more ice time...

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    Re: Minor Hockey Question for All - Shortening the Bench?

    Post by Guest on Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:59 pm

    If there is ever a kid in house league that isnt played as evenly as someone else, its basically criminal. The higher the level you go up, the more competitive it becomes.

    I played AA my whole life (no AAA in Ottawa in the winter until the last few years) and AA in the summer, and once you hit Bantam everything changes. The scouts are out in full force and coaches and parents all feel the heat in one way or another. Thats the way it is at that level, if parents or kids cant deal with it, then play a lower level. Thats the responsibility of the parents to recongnize this and explain to their kids that the ice time they get may not be as much as it should be.

    So basically, it is on the parents to know what the situation is with their team. I can tell you from expierence that the best players will see the ice more at the level I played in minor hockey, no if, ands or buts.

    I'll give an example. Derek Roy was the best player in the league along with Brendan Bell growing up and the two kids were played as much as everyone else until Bantam. Roy stayed int he league and tore it up in Bantam and Bell had to move on to Jr A because he was going to take ice time away from other kids and he also needed a challenge. Roy was basically never off the ice in his 2 years Bantam and he got drafted in the 1st round of the OHL draft. If he didnt play that much, his development could have defently take a hit and you wouldnt see him wearing number 9 in Buffalo.

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    Re: Minor Hockey Question for All - Shortening the Bench?

    Post by mike8765 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:22 pm

    The rules of minor hockey in the ODMHA (Ottawa District Minor Hockey Assoc.), and most similar associations in the country, explicitly state that no coach is to shorten the bench for any reason. If a player is deemed "not at a skill level to compete adequately", then he/she should be moved to a lower division to play. There is no provision or differentiation made for competetive and house league, nor for differing age groups. Despite this, we have all seen minor hockey league coaches shorten the bench towards the ends of games, in order to gain or preserve a win.

    I've been looking to find the rules pertaining to bench shortening. You have stated that it explicitly states the rules for ODMHA, is it possible to send me a link where I can find this info. I've looked on ODMHA site and can't locate it. I'm realy interested in how ODMHA addresses it.

    Thanks,

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