The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee has voted to do away with shootouts and 3-on-3 overtimes, effective immediately.
The decision, among a series of others, came during the Committee’s annual meeting. The rule book is eligible to be changed every other year, and this is one of those years. There has been talk over the most recent two-year period of standardizing overtime across the board, with a lot of discussions generated on the topic among the teams and coaches.
All changes must get final approval from the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will discuss ice hockey rules change proposals during a July 25 teleconference. The proposals will be distributed to the membership for comment next week.
Three of the six current Division I men’s conferences use the shootout and/or 3-on-3 overtime to decide winners and points in league games. In all cases, it comes after the standard 5-on-5 five-minute OT, and the results do not count towards the criteria that determines the NCAA tournament field.
Conferences had flirted with shootouts in the past, but it became a fixture in college hockey in 2013-14, the year the WCHA and CCHA were split into new conferences. The fledgling NCHC and Big Ten conferences implemented shootouts right away, and the new-look WCHA added it in 2016-17. The NCHC and WCHA also used 3-on-3.
“While differing opinions were expressed, at the end of the day the committee strongly endorsed a single overtime option, cleaning up the book and affirming the belief that hockey is played, for the most part, in a five-on-five format,” said Joe Bertagna, Hockey East Association commissioner and chair of the committee. “While the time might come where college hockey will employ a reduced manpower overtime, the prevailing voices on the committee did not see that time as now.”
In-season tournaments, such as the ones during the holidays, or the Beanpot, may choose to utilize the shootout for advancement in the tournament. That is the only time it would be allowed, if they so choose. Those games would still count as a tie for NCAA tournament consideration.
None of the aforementioned three conferences have representation on the current Rules Committee. Five members of the 12-person committee have ties to D-I men’s hockey, including Dartmouth assistant coach David Lassonde, Yale deputy athletic director Wayne Dean, Quinnipiac assistant Bill Riga, Mercyhurt head coach Rick Gotkin and Bertagna. New Hampshire women’s head coach Hilary Witt is another member, and the other six are from D-II and D-III institutions.
“I’m disappointed,” NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton told the Grand Forks Herald, noting that all other major hockey leagues in North America now use 3-on-3 overtime in some way. “We realized our model may not be for everyone and that not everyone wanted it. However, we believe the model of the three-on-three and some aspect of a shootout to get a conclusion was good for the growth and promotion of the sport. … The fact that we put a model in place that worked well for us, was loved by constituents associated with our conference and we now cannot use it … is too bad.”
There were other changes that were sent through for approval, the most notable regarding the allowance of video review for potential ejections.
“When video replay is available, it is important to be sure student-athletes are penalized appropriately,” Bertagna said. “Given the speed of the game, providing this tool will help ensure proper enforcement.”
To address the potential concern of adding to the length of game and prolonged interruptions in play, the committee will provide education to the conferences regarding the preferred protocol for these reviews. Currently, officials huddle and communicate about a play where an ejection is being considered. With this rule, the instruction will be to immediately review the play and expedite the decision.
The committee usually recommends “points of emphasis” to referees as well, and this year, it focused that on cracking down on slashing and late hits. The slashing emphasis follows the NHL’s recent lead in that department.
“In addition to traditional warnings, we are asking men’s officials to watch out for an increase in slashing and late hits, areas that other levels of elite men’s hockey have tackled in recent years,” Bertagna said.
• Each team can now dress 19 skaters, up from 18.
• Each team will have one timeout to utilize in overtime, regardless of whether a timeout was used during regulation play.
• For a substitution to be legal, the player coming off the ice must be within 5 feet of their bench before the substitute may contact the ice.
• The committee redefined slashing to encourage better enforcement and specifically identified this as an illegal defensive tactic.
• A player who catches the puck must immediately place it on the ice for play to continue legally. If a player catches and conceals or throws the puck, a minor penalty shall be assessed.
• To reduce the number of video review situations, coaches must use a challenge to review goals scored where a potential high stick is involved or plays where the puck touches the netting out of play and leads to a goal.