Lake Hockey (A New Type of Shinny and Bandy, for the Robo-Zamboni Era)

Ice sports face a double threat from climate change. Outdoor rinks are being impacted by warming weather in northern latitudes and mountain altitudes, while using indoor rinks or travelling long distances to go on winter-sports vacations could be impacted by carbon pricing.

If you do travel to those colder climates however, or better yet if you live in them already, then in some cases outdoor hockey might become more appealing as a result of rising temperatures. You might also benefit from a great opportunity facing ice sports: the automation of rink maintenance.

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Bandy

Rink maintenance is a labour-intensive job, especially for the enormous rinks used by sports like bandy, which are the size of entire football fields. Automating rink maintenance could make sports like bandy, or like long-distance ice skating, more widely played, particularly in places like Minnesota and Canada where frozen lakes are plentiful.

But bandy is basically just (European) football or field hockey on ice. There’s nothing wrong with that – it looks like an incredible game – but we can also try to come up with a more Americanized version, which could be played on rinks large or small.

So, here is Lake Hockey. You can read the rules quickly below, while you wait for your ice-roomba to finish up outside:

Lake Hockey: uses very long, short shinny hockey nets, no goalies. 1 pt for a goal inside the blue line arc, 2 pts for a goal behind the blue arc, 3 pt for a goal from behind centre ice. Players can pass the puck over the net, but are not allowed to jump over the net themselves or score lacrosse-style from behind the net
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A normal shinny hockey net. Good for playing without goalies, and for keeping the puck on the ice so that you can play without having to wear padding without getting hurt by a shot puck

Lake Hockey uses low shinny hockey nets rather than goalies, but in this sport these nets are allowed to be much longer in length than normal shinny or hockey nets are. Depending on the size of the rink, they could be maybe up to six times longer than a normal net. This makes scoring goals from further away easier, which in turn allows for 2pt and 3pt lines. Goals scored inside the blue line arc are worth 1 point, goals scored from behind the blue arc are worth 2 points, and goals scored from behind centre ice are worth 3 points.

And that’s it, those are the rules.

Lake Hockey can also be played on a smaller, circular rink, in order to create a type of shinny hockey that is somewhat safer for kids (or adults) than normal hockey is. It will be harder to produce as much direct force from a hit into curved boards. There will also be more room between the goal net and the end boards, which will mean that the most dangerous, blindsided hits on players circling behind the net may be less common, and that players will have more room to slow down before crashing into the end boards after driving at the goal net. A puck can also be shot around the boards of a circular rink in a cool way…

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