WLA rule changes aim to speed up game, excite fans

Fans of the Western Lacrosse Association could be the winners this season. Because every game will likely have a winner.

Tuesday, the league announced a new sudden death overtime format for regular season games as well as other rule changes it hopes will make games more exciting and fast-paced.

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Instead of a 10-minute extra period which full sides play to its timed conclusion even if a winner hasn’t been determined, regular season games that are tied at the end of regulation time will now be decided by an extra five-minute period in which each team has only three players on the floor plus goalies.

WLA commissioner Paul Dal Monte said the new format will be a boon for fans.

“We continue to strive to improve the excitement and entertainment value for our fans,” he said in a press release. “Three-on-three lacrosse in a sudden death overtime format will showcase the tremendous speed and skill of our great players.”

During the overtime, teams will be allowed to pull their goalie for a fourth attacker, and — like hockey — when a penalty is called the opposing team will be allowed to add a player to the floor for the duration of the power play.

The new format will only be used during regular season games. Playoff games that are still tied at the end of the third period will still be decided by a traditional 5 on 5 contingent of players.

A new 30-second shot clock will also be implemented on teams that are playing a man short because of a penalty so they can’t maintain possession of the ball until they return to full strength. This change to the league’s rules brings it in line with procedures used in Major Series Lacrosse as well as this year’s Mann Cup national championship final.

The WLA kicks off its regular season on Thursday, May 23, with a game between the Langley Thunder and New Westminster Salmonbellies. The Coquitlam Adanacs begin play on Saturday, May 25, when they host the Burnaby Lakers at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex at 8 p.m.

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