When it comes to overtime, the Western Lacrosse Association is taking a less means more approach.
Starting this season, overtime games in the WLA will be decided in a five-minute, three-on-three sudden-death format, replacing the 10-minute, five-on-five setup that’s been the norm in the past.
This will bring a faster, more exciting overtime to the floor, WLA commissioner said in a media release. “We continue to strive to improve the excitement and entertainment value for our fans, and [three-on-three] lacrosse in a sudden-death overtime format will showcase the tremendous speed and skill of our great players.”
Teams will be allowed to pull their goaltender in favour of a fourth attacker in the event of a minor penalty or penalties, and the penalized team will keep three players on the floor while the powerplay will add one or two additional runners.
Chris Welch, general manager of the Victoria Shamrocks, said the team supports the changes for a couple of reasons. “Not only will it make overtime more exciting for the fans, it will help out with those games that involve Island - Mainland interplay,” he explained. “The away team is often racing to catch the last ferry, and no one relishes having to find somewhere for 25 or 30 people to stay for the night.”
The new format will be tested in two WLA exhibition games after the three regulation periods, regardless of the score. The overtime period will give players and referees a chance to get accustomed to the changes in preparation for the regular season. WLA playoff games will revert to five-on-five overtime periods to maintain consistency with Canadian Lacrosse Association rules applied to the Mann Cup.
The WLA also approved running the 30-second shot clock when a shorthanded team gains possession, which marks a change from previous rules in which a shorthanded team had no shot clock and could maintain possession until they returned to full strength. The rule change will keep WLA regular season play consistent with Major Series Lacrosse, as well as the playing rules for the 2019 Mann Cup.
The WLA regular season officially gets underway on May 23, when the New Westminster Salmonbellies host the Langley Thunder. The Victoria Shamrocks kick off their season at home at The Q Centre on Friday, May 24 against the Nanaimo Timbermen. The Burnaby Lakers are in Coquitlam on May 25 for a game against the Adanacs.