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Johnstown Chiefs forward Adam Henrich looks for the puck against Toledo during a game this past season.

In the new hockey world – the one with standardized rules intended to improve the game – special teams play is even more important than in the days before hooking, holding and interference were three words repeatedly scribbled on the official statistics sheet.

“With the new rules, the key is your penalty kill and power play,” Bakersfield coach Marty Raymond said after his Condors edged the Chiefs 3-2 on Sunday thanks largely to a 5-on-3 goal and another power-play tally. “Sadly enough today if you see 12 power plays, if you don’t score on it early, I think it affects the mettle of the team. The same guys keep going over and over without being successful. You’ve got to score early.

“Sadly enough, that’s the way it has to be. You win and lose games on power play, discipline and penalty kill alone.”

And, this is the coach who won a game that featured 23 power-play opportunities – 13 by the Condors and 10 by the Chiefs.

“I found (Sunday’s) game very challenging,” Chiefs coach Frank Anzalone said. “Marty has some good points. I wish he wasn’t correct.”

The Chiefs’ special teams stumbled in three weekend losses in which Johnstown earned one of a possible six points.

Dayton scored a key 5-on-3 goal on Friday in the Bombers’ 3-1 win at the Nutter Center on Friday. Reading netted a 4-on-3 power-play goal after a rare penalty called against Johnstown early in overtime of a 3-2 Chiefs setback on Saturday.

On Sunday, the Chiefs had five first-period penalties and skated short by two players after a stacked penalty situation that led to Bakersfield’s first goal. After four more penalties were called against the Chiefs by referee Jason Rollins midway through the second period, Anzalone had seen enough.

During a stoppage in play, the Chiefs coach had a lengthy and animated discussion with Rollins. Anzalone hopped down from the bench to the boards to get Rollins’ attention. The coach went back on to the bench and continued his discussion before jumping back down to the boards again.

“When I had the conversation with the ref, it was about the aura of the game,” Anzalone said. “It wasn’t about the ref, which is why I didn’t get a bench minor.”

Anzalone isn’t critical of the referees or even the league’s attempt to align itself with the new NHL standards intended to eliminate obstruction and holding in order to add offense. But the coach is perplexed nonetheless.

“I’ll just say one thing,” Anzalone said. “To me, regardless of what the rules are, each call a referee makes from 19:40 on, if you see it and you’re sure, you call it. That’s the way I always thought the game was.

“There are a lot of rule changes and rule adjustments. The referees, their heads must be floating just like coaches. The game is in a difficult time. There is a lot of transition.”

The Chiefs haven’t played smart hockey lately as far as staying out of the box. Bakersfield frustrated the Chiefs on Sunday and on multiple occasions, Johnstown players took penalties when the Condors refused to retaliate.

“Our team was doing a great job of pretty much staying away from penalties,” Anzalone said. “Over the last three games our team has been in the box even more than is necessary. I don’t have an answer to the issue. I think it has to come through the league. We just coach.”

Perhaps that’s what frustrates Anzalone most about the new standards. He’s a stickler for detail whether it’s during a game or a practice session.

“We practice our ‘D’ zone, breakouts, mid-zone, forechecks, and yet I say to myself, ‘Should we just shoot pucks and work on special teams?’ ” Anzalone said, suggesting that the power play has become the most important part of the game. “I started young. I’ve been coaching a very long time.

“I’m starting to question my own beliefs. It’d be like in football if you’d only punt and kick field goals. There’d be no tackles. No passes. I’m not questioning the officiating. I’m not questioning the standards. We’re the ones who took the penalties. There are just so many of them. The league is doing what they think is right for the game and that’s good. But a penalty is a penalty.”

Of course, these are the rules. The Chiefs must adjust or they’ll fall out of contention in a North Division that is tight from top to bottom.

“I’m not knocking the league. I’m assessing,” Anzalone said. “I’m not evaluating. I’m concerned about my own team. I try to do the best I can with the group we have. I will get on my guys harder to be in less of a position to take penalties.

“We had too many 5-on-3’s against us this weekend. In Dayton we gave up a goal on a 5-on-3. We killed off one (Sunday) and got a penalty right away. We lost Saturday night on a 4-on-3. I know the referees are trying. I know the league is trying. We all have to continue to try.”

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Making his points: Maxime Boisclair extended his point-scoring streak to 11 games with an assist on Doug Andress’ power-play goal in Sunday’s loss to Bakersfield.

During the streak, Boisclair has six goals and 18 points, and the Chiefs are 6-4-1.

Andress has three goals and nine points in his past eight games.

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Northern nuggets: Reading rookie Joe Zappala has four goals and six points in his past three games, including a hat trick in Sunday’s 7-4 win over Trenton. Royals goalie Jeff Pietrasiak is 3-0-0 in his first starts, with one of those wins coming Saturday against the Chiefs. ... Toledo rookie Jamie Tardif was tough on Wheeling last weekend. Tardif had his first multi-goal game with a pair in Saturday’s 4-3 win at the Sports Arena and had a goal and two assists in Sunday’s 5-2 victory at WesBanco Arena. ... Dayton is in fifth place with 19 points, but had played a league-low 15 games prior to Tuesday’s visit to Cincinnati. ... Cyclones center Cory Urquhart has a team-best 13 goals, 17 points and eight power-play goals.

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