New NHL style appeals to Mustang

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 1:29 PM ET

Jamie Chamberlain sat in the seats and watched for two months while recovering from a fractured sternum.

He's seen the NHL and major juniors attempt to fix a game many said was broken.

The Western Mustangs captain likes the repair effort and says it's time Ontario university hockey did the same.

"The new NHL is a great game and it would be great if they could implement that in the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport)," Chamberlain said last night as the Mustangs defeated the Windsor Lancers 4-1 before 1,050 spectators at the John Labatt Centre in his third game since recovering.

The officials who work the OUA are assigned by the Ontario Hockey Association, with most of them working at the Tier 2 junior A, junior B and senior levels, where the new standard of rule enforcement is not being observed.

A handful of OHA referees also work in the OHL and "I do find that some of the refs that do ref in the OHL, they do sometimes call the stick infraction that might not get called," Chamberlain said.

"There's a lot of clutching and grabbing in our game, like there was in the NHL and the OHL, and you've just got to battle your way through it."

Chamberlain, from Sarnia and in fourth-year criminology, said the emphasis needs to be on a skating and finesse.

"I don't think they considered it, but now maybe that they've seen how it's gone in the pro leagues, they will have a look at it in the off-season. (But) at this point in the season, I don't think they could implement it. It would be too tough of an adjustment."

Chamberlain, who played four years in the OHL with Peterborough and Kingston, said with what he's seen in the NHL and OHL, he wasn't aware of how much interference had crept into the game.

"Now the game is a lot smoother-skating, guys are getting to the net and there's a lot more finesse. I think it was time. Something had to be done."

Mustangs coach Clarke Singer is of two minds.

"All around hockey, there are some issues and questions about it," Singer said when it was suggested it might improve the appeal of the university game.

"It depends on what's 'improve.' As a coach, specialty teams are something you don't want to spend the whole game on. You want to play five on five."

Lancers coach Vern Stenlund, who played for the London Knights for three seasons in the mid-1970s, is "a big fan" of the new standard.

"I say let guys through the neutral zone and use body position (to stop them). And if you can't, too bad," he said.

"We play a big non-conference schedule in the United States (where the NCAA is calling it tight), so our first eight games of the year, we're getting called for interference. So you just get used to it, then you come back here and you're back to tug-and-grab.

"I know there's conflicting views from coaches. Some don't want it changed, so it's going to be a contentious issue when we get to the nationals this spring and have our national meeting with our two brethren (the Canada West and Atlantic conferences)."

GAME GLANCE

Mustangs 4, Lancers 1

Western goals: Sal Peralta (2), Mike Rice, Kyle Piwowarczyk

Windsor goal: Brent Mahon

Next: The Mustangs next OUA game is Jan. 5 at the John Labatt Centre against Queen's at 7 p.m.


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