By: Jesse Gilbert/dawg-park.com Contributor
The SPHL has revealed several new rule changes for the 2019-20 hockey season following their annual Board of Governors meeting this week. The majority of the rule changes are to the playoffs, specifically to the format of how playoff opponents are selected.
Last season the Rail Yard Dawgs finished 5th overall in the regular season, putting them at risk of being selected by the top seeded Peoria in the challenge round. As we all know Peoria selected Roanoke over 8th seeded Fayetteville likely due to travel distance and the regular season matchups going in the Rivermen’s favor.
A 1 seed versus 5 seed round 1 matchup will not be happening again this year as the SPHL has decided to replace the challenge round in favor of a more traditional playoff seeding structure. The top 4 seeds will no longer be selecting their round 1 matchups from the pool of bottom 4 seeds. Seed 1 will play seed 8, seed 2 will play seed 7, seed 3 will play seed 6, and seed 4 will play seed 5. Additionally, after round 1, the SPHL will re-seed the first round winners again according to the regular season results. All playoff matchups will continue to be a best-of-three series.
Teams will additionally be able to carry a 20th player on their roster going into the playoffs but only if the 20th player is an amateur player signed to an amateur try-out contract within the last 2 weeks of the regular season.
The last change announced is that all teams will no longer have to scratch a roster spot when a player is suspended. They will be able to field the full 19 spot roster no matter the suspensions.