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Great games should never be decided by a shootout. Ever. A shootout simply feels undone, unfinished and decidedly unsatisfying. Reaching a shootout means that two teams battled hard through three full periods of equally skilled hockey and then went into overtime for more of the same. So why after two teams have fought so hard for 65 minutes, why do only a handful of players decide the outcome? That is how it felt last night. Unfinished and unsatisfying, and this is the case regardless of which team ultimately won last night.

The Wichita Thunder and Tulsa Oilers have met six times this season and only two of those games have been decided in regulation with the remainder going into Overtime. One game was decided in overtime and three games advanced to a shootout. HALF of the games between the Wichita Thunder and Tulsa Oilers have been decided in a shootout.

Tulsa 3 @ Wichita 2 (Nov 30 2014) Final SO
Wichita 2 @ Tulsa 3 (Nov 23 2014) Final
Wichita 3 @ Tulsa 4 (Nov 18 2014) Final SO
Wichita 2 @ Tulsa 3 (Nov 2 2014) Final SO
Tulsa 0 @ Wichita 2 (Oct 29 2014) Final
Wichita 5 @ Tulsa 6 (Oct 26 2014) Final OT

This season the American Hockey League (AHL) is testing a new overtime format which has greatly reduced the number of times that teams find themselves in shootouts. Stu Hackel discussed the topic in his article “New AHL overtime rules letting hockey, not shootouts, decide games” in The Hockey News in early November.

Hackel wrote: “After last year — when 178, or 64.7 percent, of the 275 AHL’s tie games went to a shootout – the league adopted a new OT format. Starting this season, tied AHL games are followed by a dry scrape, then three minutes of 4-on-4 and then, if no one scores, four minutes of 3-on-3.” And the result of the changes have been rather astonishing: “Through the 138 AHL games played through last Sunday, Nov. 2, 30 contests went beyond regulation and only five – yes, FIVE — have gone to a shootout. That’s merely 16.7 percent, a stunningly drastic decrease.”

We can only hope that the NHL and ECHL will follow the AHL’s lead and reduce the number of great hockey games that end up in the shootout. Let hockey decide the games, not a gimmick.

StoneWolf Casino Cup Series: 5-1-0-0 Tulsa  (Wichita 1-1-1-3)

Wichita hits the road later this week to play two games in Brampton, Ontario against the Brampton Beast on Dec. 4th & 5th, and they will then face the Elmira Jackels in New York state on Dec. 7th. The team then returns closer to home to play the Tulsa Oilers on Dec. 10th in Tulsa.