INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee is trying to reduce the number of video reviews during games.
The committee on Friday announced in its biennial proposals to change the rules that it is taking a two-pronged approach to address the growing number of video reviews, which in recent years have come under fire for regularly slowing down games.
Firstly, the Committee limits what officials can assess for themselves. If the proposal goes through as expected goalkeeper interference, offside offenses and pucks played with a high stick leading to goals will only be judged if a coach contests it.
Second, there will be penalties for failed coach challenges. A team loses its timeout for a failed challenge. If it has no more timeouts, it will be penalized with a small game delay of two minutes.
“The committee believes this change will reduce the number of reviews while still providing tools to ensure the most important calls are made accurately,” said Joe Gervais, committee chair and associate director of athletics at Vermont. “All parts of the hockey community expressed support for reducing the number of repeat reviews.”
The Rules Committee met this week in Indianapolis to discuss the changes. UND Deputy Athletic Director Erik Martinson serves on the Rules Committee. All proposals will be reviewed by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on July 20 before taking effect for the upcoming season.
While some games require assessment of coaching challenges, umpires still have the freedom to judge other aspects of goals, such as whether a puck has completely crossed the goal line.
Changes to Major Penalties
Officials will also be able to review potentially large five-minute sentences.
However, large five-minute penalties for checking from behind the boards and for head contact no longer automatically lead to a goalkeeper throw.
“We strongly believe that player behavior has improved and remain committed to improving player safety with these critical rules,” Gervais said. “In recent years, the rigid nature of the penalty has led to the eviction of players who do not justify such a severe penalty.”
The game that led to this rule change came in the first round of the 2022 NCAA tournament. Michigan Tech star Brian Halonen, a Hobey Baker Award finalist, was ejected early in the first period for checking a trailing Minnesota Duluth. Most observers didn’t believe the hit warranted a takedown, but the officials didn’t feel they had any wiggle room with the way the rules were written.
Other coaches echoed the feeling that too many players were being sent off for unjustified play.
Now officials can decide whether a major penalty should stand alone or be accompanied by an expulsion (misconduct from the match) or a removal and suspension of one match (disqualification from the match).
The NCAA will distribute a video to show officials what it believes is the difference between a hit that warrants a standalone major and one that should be accompanied by a throwout.
Shootouts in non-conference games
The current five-minute three-on-three overtime format after a goalless regulation will be maintained.
Each conference thereafter has the opportunity to use shootouts for competition points.
The committee has now opened the door for shootouts in non-conference games. When non-conference games are tied after the three-on-three, they will now play in whatever format the host school’s conference uses.
So, UND’s nonconference games at Ralph Engelstad Arena will now have shootouts because UND’s league, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, uses them.
That also opens the door for the NCAA Championship Committee to award Pairwise points for winning shootouts, even though the coaching body has been against it in the past.
- Offside: A player is now considered onside if the skate is over the blue line when the puck enters the zone. In the past, the skate had to be in contact with the blue line.
- Additional discipline: The committee added language to say that suspensions are for serious situations. Coaches felt that there were too many suspensions for hits that did not justify this.
- Video review for offside/possession: In the 2017 NCAA tournament, a winning goal by UND was disallowed for offside, despite the offside occurring long before the goal and having no effect on it. Thereafter, the rule was changed so that if the defending team had full possession of the puck, offside could no longer be judged. That has now changed again. Offside can be re-rated even if the defending team gains possession of the puck.
- Protocols for the match/break: Players must not be on the ice before the pre-game warm-up, which begins approximately 40 minutes before the game. This is a rule the NCHC instituted after former UND and Colorado College forward Westin Michaud attempted to wear a net to the locker room in 2019 to prevent opponents from firing at it. After the intermissions, players not starting the period on the ice are asked to file directly into the bench instead of skating a round or two.
- Break length: Breaks can last 12 or 15 minutes. The committee has removed the option for 18-minute intermissions, which were used in the NCAA regional games. The Big Ten uses breaks of 12 minutes. The NCHC uses 15.
- Covering puck in fold: Coaches can now dispute whether a skater (non-goalkeeper) covered the puck in the crease.
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