WORCESTER, MA — From its annual meetings in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the American Hockey League (AHL) announced today that the 29 member teams will comply with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) newly mandated rule of end zone safety netting for all arenas. An additional directive stated that the protective glass at the sides of the rinks be at least five feet above the top of the boards.

Worcester’s Centrum Centre has been the proud home of the Worcester IceCats since the team’s inaugural season in 1994. With a seating capacity of 12,316, the Foster Street institution will welcome back IceCats fans for the 2002-2003 home opener on October 19, 2002.

IceCats President and General Manager John S. Ferguson commented that the changes will improve the game for all. “This is an innovation that will keep more pucks in play and make the worlds fastest sport even faster. In addition, the increased spectator shielding will certainly contribute to an improved experience for all of our fans.”

In an ongoing campaign for fan safety, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman initiated a comprehensive study of arenas and the spectator environment. The result was a June 20, 2002 edict for all 30 NHL teams to install the end zone safety netting and adhere to the new glass rulings.

The height and design of the netting configuration may vary, due to structural differences from venue to venue, but must be of sufficient dimension to prevent pucks from entering the spectator areas in the corners and end zones of the rinks. These nets may be connected to the ceiling of the building and extend 0.3m (1′) beyond (below) the top of the glass to the top of the arena or be of a reasonable height.

AHL President and CEO David Andrews noted that installation of the systems must be completed as soon as practicable.