It’s hard to have a conversation about Olympic hockey without the issue rink size coming into play. Will the Europeans have an advantage over the North Americans when the men’s hockey tournament begins in Sochi? First, let’s go over the dimensions. Most NHL rinks are 200 feet long and 85 feet wide with 11 feet between the end boards and the goal line. The Olympic-sized rinks in Sochi are 210 feet long and 98 feet wide with the goal lines 13 feet from the end boards. That’s 23 more feet of ice and two more feet of real estate behind the goal line. “All teams are dealing with it,” said Team USA assistant coach Peter Laviolette. “Even the European players, most of them are playing on the smaller ice surfaces here. Some of our guys, Zach Parise is one, played in so many big games, championship games at a younger age, on a bigger ice surface and experienced success.” Perhaps, but it is worth noting that since the NHL allowed its players to participate in the Olympics in 1998, when the Games were played on larger ice surfaces [1998 Nagano and 2006 Turin], Canada and the U.S. failed to medal. And in the two years the Olympics were played in North America [2002 Salt Lake City and 2010 Vancouver] Canada won gold and the U.S. won silver each time. “Vancouver had smaller ice and as a result you saw two North American teams in the final playing for gold,” Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer said. “It might be a different story this time around because a lot of European players grew up playing on bigger ice. The North American teams who play more of a dump and chase are going to need to find a way to dump the puck where they can get it back.” The wider ice presents different challenges for different players. Team USA goaltender Ryan Miller said shooters’ angles change on a wider rink.
Can North Americans overcome Olympic rink size difference?
CSN Washington | Feb 12