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CHL offense
Goals per team, per game
3.12 Shots per game, per game
* Before use of trapezoids
vs. Quad City
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Evansville
When: 8:35 p.m. Friday vs. Quad City
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Radio: All games on 1190 AM
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Komets goalie Kevin Reiter would like to see the trapezoid area behind the net widened to avoid injuries.

Trapped in the trapezoid

Scoring is up, but goalies worry about injuries

As a goaltender who loves to leave the crease and play the puck, Komets goaltender Kevin Reiter isn’t a fan of the trapezoid.

“I worked on playing the puck my whole life, and it’s hampered my ability to go do something,” Reiter said. “I don’t think it’s fair. But maybe it’s a blessing (for the sport). I don’t know.”

In 2005, hockey leagues began putting trapezoidal areas behind the net. Six feet wide at the goalposts and 28 feet wide at the boards, the trapezoids are the only spots behind the goal line netminders are allowed to handle the puck, otherwise, they are penalized for delay of game.

The intent was to increase offense by limiting the goalie’s ability to thwart an opposing team’s forecheck, and it seems to have been successful in that respect.

The CHL first adopted the trapezoids in 2005-06, and scoring increased from 3.02 goals per game, per team, to 3.23 the next season. Shots increased from 32.07 per game to 34.36.

The Komets were in the United Hockey League when the trapezoid was first introduced in 2006, and scoring increased from 3.18 goals per game to 3.36, while shots went from 32.01 to 32.13.

Before the lockout erased the 2004-05 season and the NHL decided to use the trapezoids, its games averaged 2.57 goals per team, then went to 3.09 the next season. That number is now at 2.85, though increased offense can also be attributed to rules changes made to eliminate obstruction of offensive players.

Reiter and fellow Komets goalie Nick Boucher believe there are too many negatives with the trapezoidal system, namely injury. There has been a movement at the NHL level to do away with the trapezoid because hits to the head are a concern.

“When the puck isn’t iced and there’s a race for the puck, you’re seeing more defensemen get plastered into the boards,” Boucher said. “Guys can get hurt. The puck is just laying there, not moving and I’m not allowed to go get it. In the past, a goaltender could go out and make a play, take his defenseman out of a vulnerable position.”

Reiter, whose Komets are 2-8-1 in their first CHL season, agreed.

“Sometimes (your teammates) are yelling at you to ‘Play it, play it,’ and you think the puck is going to get (to the trapezoid) and it never does,” Reiter said. “Next thing you know, they’re getting freight-trained.”

Reiter would like to see the trapezoids widened. Boucher, who doesn’t believe the increased offense is thanks to the trapezoids, suggested inverting the system so goalies can play the puck in the corners but not behind the net.

“The spirit of the rule, they wanted to eliminate goalies from being so active. If that was their true intention, maybe reverse the trapezoid,” Boucher said. “In that case, I’m not going to be able to go out and stop it behind the net. Take that away from me and it’s probably going to set up teams on their forecheck. And that would take away the vulnerable positions.”

Boucher said having the trapezoids eliminates a couple times per period in which he could play the puck. He played in Australia last summer and Reiter played in Europe the last two seasons – neither had to deal with trapezoids – and they both said it was liberating.

“I actually enjoyed being able to wander a little bit more,” said Boucher, adding a wise goalie can still usually react to an oncoming play in time to get to the puck before it crosses the goal line.

“You just have to make a split-second decision. Am I going to try and grab that or not?”

Notes: The Komets released forward Marc Rechlicz, who was scoreless with 26 penalty minutes in seven games. Quad City traded right wing Patrik Levesque, who led the team in goals (30) and points (67) last season, to Mississippi for future considerations.