Carolina Thunderbirds to start home games with a shootout for some reason

In one of the weirdest, strangest, and most controversial moves we’ve ever heard, at any level of hockey, the Carolina Thunderbirds announced a new rule for all of its home games, starting this weekend against the Port Huron Prowlers.

The team announced Wednesday morning that it gained league approval to start games with a shootout. That’s right, so before the puck is officially dropped and actual hockey starts, the fans will get treated to a skills competition. Oh, and this shootout counts, so if the game goes to overtime and nobody scores, then you already know who the winner is because the shootout already happened. Get there early I guess.

The shootout will happen for sure at both games this weekend, then after that will be up to a fan vote on if it will continue.

From the Thunderbirds’ website:

Winston-Salem, NC – The Carolina Thunderbirds have received league approval to experiment with a new rule for all home games at the Fairgrounds Annex for the remainder of the 2018-19 regular season. All Carolina Thunderbirds home games beginning with the November 30th game against Port Huron will feature a five-man shootout prior to the opening faceoff to settle a potential tie at the end of overtime.

Thunderbirds President/GM Scott Brand crafted the rule in hopes to give fans extra incentive to arrive early to games and to make overtime more exciting for fans.

“As a hockey guy, I am not big on shootouts, but its part of today’s game and the fans seem to like it” Brand said. “With the advent of 3 on 3 hockey, shootout are becoming a very rare event and for those fans that like it, this is a way to satisfy them.”

The shootout is only intended to settle ties at the end of 3-on-3 overtime should nobody score in the allotted time. If the game ends in a tie, the winner of the shootout from the beginning of the game holds the tiebreaker and claims the extra point at the end of the night.

“My thought was let’s try it and give it a chance, let the fans vote on it and see if it works. I am sure like the icing rule, we will need to make some tweaks overall, but I think it could add more excitement and marketing opportunities for the game” Brand said.

Since the Thunderbirds’ inception they have only played in one overtime game in the Fairgrounds Annex and it was a playoff game so regulation overtime rules at the time did not apply.

After the opening weekend for the experiment, fans will be given a forum to voice their opinions on the shootout rule.

We at Bus League Hockey have known this rule was in the works for a couple of weeks, and had debating back-and-forth about it since the rumors started, and what we’ve settled on is this:


We really don’t see the point or appeal of it. In our minds, the whole point of a shootout is that there is drama and that a guy coming down needs to score to keep it going, or possibly win it. And now by putting it before the game, all the drama is removed from it and it will likely be five guys from each team shooting in front of a half-full arena while the fans are out buying snacks and drinks, rather than at the end where everyone is on their feet cheering.

The other thing that makes no sense, if you’re going to roll out this rule, then why is it only in Carolina? Why not make every team try this rule at their next home series, have fans vote on it and see a collective, league-wide decision made? It’s akin to baseball having the designated hitter in one league, pitchers hitting in the other league…and then one team has 10 players bat in their home games for some reason.

The other side of that though, as the release mentioned, is that it tries to make overtime more exciting for fans, and sort of calls to mind soccer’s aggregate scoring system when teams play a two-game set. You know going into overtime who won the shootout, so one team has extra incentive to try to score to make sure that it doesn’t come down to the shootout. So if overtime happens, one team will be trying all-out to get that winning goal, while the other team is going to hunker down and play prevent defense.

But how have fans taken to the announcement so far? Well, not good, to put it mildly.


So fans, what do you think about this new rule where Carolina home games will now start with a shootout?



2 thoughts on “Carolina Thunderbirds to start home games with a shootout for some reason

  1. IF a team can propose a rule change, and it get approved by the 3 owners, why dont one of the teams suggest getting rid of the shoot out altogether and reinstitute ties with 1 point per team in the event there is no sure winner after the OT?


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