Get ready for some wide-open action with your Tri-City Americans this season.

The Western Hockey League, along with the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior League, make up the Canadian Hockey League, or CHL. More NHL players have come from the CHL than any other source in professional history.

When rule changes occur, they usually get passed down quickly to the major junior level.

This is probably the most significant rule change in the last decade. The NHL has decided shoot outs are boring, and take too long. So starting with the 2015-16 season, overtime periods will be played 3 on 3, instead of 4 on 4.

Decades ago, in the sport's early days, overtime was 5 on 5, full strength. But overtimes often took FOREVER.  Then a number of years ago, the NHL went to 4 on 4, hoping to open up the ice with more scoring chances.

But as teams and players have gotten bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled,  teams have learned how to defend and counter each other. All too often,  overtime periods expire with the teams still tied, and it goes to a shootout.

That's when each team picks out one skater at a time, taking turns shooting at the other goalie one on one. Even some shootouts continue for 2, 3 or more rounds.

So to ensure that overtimes truly decide games, only three players from each side will compete. The Americans have already had a look at the new rule, as two of their preseason games went to O.T.  Americans VP of Business Operations, Marketing and Promotions, Dan Mulhausen, says "it's pretty wide open."   Theres "a lot of ice," he said.   At least until they get used to it, fans are going to think it looks weird - seeing only three players aside.

But it certainly has opened up the ice even more, created even more scoring chances, and makes it much harder to trap and defend.  So far, it's prevented any pre-season shootouts in the WHL that we know of.

So get ready for a a little 3 on 3 in overtime this year in hockey.

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