You may hate it (as some say they do), love it (as many more seem to), or have no opinion (itâ€™s hard to find anyone camped there)… but one thing appears to be certain.
The shootout is likely to be with us for a while.
Brought in this year by both the WCHA and Hockey East, the device is being used to provide a final outcome to league contests that are still knotted up after overtime.
Purists often argue that settling a result via the penalty shot is something odious. That argument was steamrolled by the NHL when it put in the shootout after the end of the lockout in 2005.
Guess what. They ainâ€™t backtracking on that one.
â€œI played a couple years in minor league hockey,â€ said North Dakota coach Brian Idalski, whose team lost the only shootout it has seen thus far, â€œand we had it. Iâ€™m not opposed to it (at all). Itâ€™s a two-fold thing. As an emerging sport, we have to take the fans into consideration. I was all for it. I know that there are a lot of people who are against it. Itâ€™s nice to leave the rink and having an outcome. So Iâ€™m fine with that. Hopefully it continues to stay in, at least during the regular season.
â€œThat being said, it stinks when you lose one.â€
To date, eight contests (four in each league) have gone to a shootout.
New Hampshireâ€™s Sam Faber took the first-ever shootout attempt in a womenâ€™s collegiate game (at least one that counted), back on Oct. 8 against Boston College goalie Molly Schaus.
Then again, so did the next seven attemptees.
She said the best move one can make in that situation is inside oneâ€™s head.
â€œItâ€™s definitely mental,â€ she said. â€œI was going first. I played with Molly (at the U.S. National camp) so she knows what I do. She knows my moves, and exactly what Iâ€™m doing. I was tossing it around ‘should I do it? Does she think Iâ€™m not going to do it?’ I was thinking way too much. I should have just gone in, see what she would give me, and done it.â€
Goaltenders, many of whom are a little off center anyway, seem less unnerved by the exercise than are the shooters themselves. Or at least thatâ€™s how UNHâ€™s Kayley Herman sees it. And sheâ€™s been on the losing end of two of them (after winning the first).
â€œBring it on,â€ she said. â€œYou just kind of stay in the moment. You canâ€™t get too high or too low. If you get scored on or make a big save.â€
You can count Boston College coach Katie King among the shootoutâ€™s proponents, even though her Eagles have lost their only one.
â€œWe do a shootout once a week, probably. It does make it fun. Itâ€™s kind of like the playoffs. It think people up in the stands are like, ‘(hey) this is fun.’ Thatâ€™s what itâ€™s about.â€
Both Hockey East and the WCHA factor the shootout into the standings differently than do the men’s professional leagues. The losing team gets a point only if they survive the overtime to get to the shootout.
So with every point likely to make a difference in the final league standings, coaches are now starting to prepare their teams a little more studiously for the chance to grab a little something extra.
â€œAs coaches, we start to practice it more,â€ said Idalski. â€œShow some video and teach it more. I think it will continue to improve. We havenâ€™t spent a lot of time on it, but now itâ€™s another element we have to coach. Certain kids seem to have a knack for that.â€
Boston Universiy coach Brian Durocher (1-0 in official shootouts) echoed that thought, with one caveat. Heâ€™d like to see it extended to all four leagues, and in non-conference games, too.
â€œI like the shootout,â€ he said. “(But) my big thing is that Iâ€™d like to have everybody doing it. So that weâ€™re not confusing the fans. Iâ€™d be happy to avoid them, and win in regulation if we could.â€