Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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There's a new dress code in the ECHL, too

The Storm will hold its first "dress" rehearsal tomorrow night against the Dayton Bombers at the Sports Arena.

But Toledo's two goaltenders don't feel fully clothed for the regular season.

As a matter of fact, they're more exposed than ever before.

"You almost kind of feel naked now, like you're not wearing anything," backup goalie Chad Collins joked yesterday.

Just like the NHL and AHL, the ECHL is focused on increasing scoring chances and generating more excitement this year.

It has targeted goaltenders.

Their oversized equipment, long considered an unfair advantage, has shrunk considerably, by approximately 11 percent.

A league edict has reduced the leg pads from 12 inches to 11, and the blocking glove, chest protector, pants and jersey have all been pared.

The circumference of a goalie's catching glove has been downsized from 48 inches to 45, and the pocket is much smaller.

Talk about a heavy burden.

It's sort of like asking a baseball player to use an infielder's glove at first base.

Logan Koopmans, the Storm's starting goaltender, has been using the new gear for a few weeks now - he was in camp with AHL Grand Rapids before getting sent to Toledo Tuesday - and he isn't crazy about it.

"I felt a little more comfortable last year," said the 6-2, 195-pound Koopmans, who is one of two Detroit Red Wings' contract players on the Storm's roster. "I felt like I could just go down to the ice and the puck was going to hit me. Now that doesn't cut it.

"You got to go down and make sure you're doing the little things right. If you don't have your legs tighter or your arms tucked in, the puck is going to go through you because everything is smaller."

Goaltenders who have specialized in stick-handling in past years, such as Collins, will no longer be allowed to act as a third defenseman, or to offer offensive teams an easier time retrieving pucks dumped into the attacking zone.

All goalies will be limited to handling the puck behind the net in a trapezoid-shaped area that starts six feet from each goal post and extends diagonally to points 28 feet apart at the end boards.

Those who play the puck behind the goal line but outside the designated area will be penalized for delay of game.

"I think every goalie is a little apprehensive about the new rules," said Collins, who is 5-7 and 165 pounds. "When a goalie does post a shutout this year, or one-or-two-goal win, a lot of credit should be directed toward them, more so than in the past."

Collins just arrived in town last week. He is still using his old gear, but plans to get fitted for his new stuff in the next two weeks.

ECHL goaltenders must be in compliance with the new equipment regulations no later than Dec. 15.

The league also has three other new rules changes that will lead to more shots and more goals while putting more pressure on the goalies.

The center red line will be ignored in situations that used to result in a two-line pass.

A team that ices the puck can't make a line change prior to the ensuing face-off.

And any player who shoots the puck directly over the glass in his defending zone will be penalized.

"The game is just so much faster now since they changed the rules," Koopmans said. "It's a lot more exciting."

Fans will be on their feet a lot this season.

The action will be nonstop.

Most goaltenders will probably be thankful they have a mask to hide behind, because if all goes according to the ECHL's plan, the league's top scorers will undress them on a nightly basis.

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