While the hockey season is less than a month old, the changes put in place by the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee over the summer are already having a positive impact on the game.

“The emphasis of the rules committee is first and foremost to create and keep a safe environment for the student-athletes,” NCAA secretary-rules editor Steve Piotrowski said. “Then the committee tries to focus on ways to allow players to show their skills and reward players for their efforts.”

One of the main ways the committee did this was by allowing goals to count when the goal becomes displaced as long as the posts remain in contact with the pegs or pins. To allow a goal in these cases, the goal must have been displaced by the actions of a defending team player and the official must determine that the puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goal posts.

RULES CHANGES GO INTO EFFECT
Click here to check out some of the rules changes that have been put in place for winter sports starting with the 2012-13 campaign.

“There have been too many times that goals have been disallowed under our old rules just because the net didn’t lay flat,” Piotrowski said. “This rule gives more latitude to the officials to allow goals that the offensive team has earned.”

Perhaps the biggest change was allowing goals to count when the puck goes into the net off a player’s skate as long as there was not a distinct kicking motion by the player that put the puck into the net.

“This change was another way to enhance goal scoring in a way that made sense,” Piotrowski said. “This makes the rules so much simpler and allows people to identify with it being a goal in that it can be directed or deflected as long as there is no distinct kicking motion by the player. The NHL has had this rule in place for a while now and people are comfortable with the interpretation, so it made a lot of sense to go in this direction.”

There were several other rules new this season, including a rule which makes all hand passes illegal. Before, the defensive team was allowed to hand pass the puck in its defensive zone. In addition, the team committing the violation in its defensive zone is not allowed to change players. Also, if both teams agree before the game, if it goes into overtime, teams can play four-on-four.

• Bemidji State travels to face Nebraska-Omaha this weekend and looks to become the 18th program in college hockey history to reach 1,000 wins. The 2012-13 season represents BSU's 14th at the Division I level, and the 57th year of intercollegiate competition. The Beavers have won 13 national titles at the Division II and III and NAIA levels. In 2009, BSU became the first No. 16 seed to earn a spot in the Frozen Four. Only one team, the 1958 Denver Pioneers in just their 10th seasons, found its way to college hockey’s grandest stage faster. Since the program's inception in 1947-48, BSU has compiled an all-time record of 999-505-94 (.655) in 1,598 games.

• Although barely two weeks into the season, only three of the 53 teams that have played so far (Ivy League teams open the season this weekend) remain unbeaten and untied. New Hampshire is 4-0, while Holy Cross and Denver are 2-0. Miami (Ohio) (3-0-1), Minnesota State-Mankato (2-0-2) and Vermont (0-0-1) have not lost yet, but have all been tied. The last time Minnesota State-Mankato went undefeated through its first four games was 1998-99 when it started 6-0-1 in its first seven games.

• Denver has two sets of brothers for the third consecutive season. Dakota and Jarrod Mermis join Nick and Quentin Shore as DU brother tandems in 2012-13. The Mermis’ are the eighth pair of brothers to play hockey on the same team at Denver, joining David and Evan Wylie (1951-53), Jim and Wayne Wiste (1966-67), Tom and Jim Peluso (1972), Ken and Dave Berry (1981), Kyle and Shawn Ostrow (2009-11), Beau and Wade Bennett (2011-12) and Drew, Nick and Quentin Shore (2011-12).

• Cornell opens its 2012-13 season this weekend looking to increase its impressive mark of recording at least one shutout in each of the last 17 seasons. The last time the Big Red did not post a shutout in a season came in 1994-95 under former coach Brian McCutcheon, as Cornell finished that year 11-15-4. The following year marked the first season for current head coach Mike Schafer, and his clubs have never gone a full year without a shutout.

Notre Dame forward T.J. Tynan extended his season-opening point streak to four games (2-2-4) in the series split with Minnesota-Duluth. Tynan now has 38 goals and 99 points in 87 career games at Notre Dame and needs one point to become the 47th player in the program’s history to reach 100 career points. … Northeastern’s Drew Ellement will play in his 100th career game at New Hampshire on Friday. … Minnesota-Duluth will host Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday, and will honor the 1992-93 Bulldogs, the last UMD team to capture a WCHA regular-season championship, on Saturday. Current UMD assistant coach Derek Plante captained the Bulldogs that winter and averaged a program-record 2.48 points per game (92 points in 37 outings) en route to earning All-American, WCHA Player of the Year and USA Hockey Male Athlete of the Year acclaim. … Bowling Green welcomes back former Falcons’ All-American George McPhee on Friday at the BGSU Ice Arena. McPhee played on the 1979 Bowling Green CCHA championship squad, won the 1982 Hobey Baker Award and is the current general manager of the Washington Capitals. … Mercyhurst is in the middle of an 11-game road stretch to start the season. … Nebraska-Omaha goaltender John Faulkner stopped 11 shots in Friday’s 5-2 win to earn his 40th career victory. He ranks third all-time in career victories at UNO. … Colorado College visits historic James Lynah Rink in Ithaca, N.Y., for the first time as the Tigers meet Cornell in a two-game series Friday and Saturday at the arena that opened in 1957. … Northeastern travels to New Hampshire where it has not won since 2007, going 0-5-1 in its last six trips. … Michigan and Miami (Ohio) meet this weekend with the Redhawks looking to post their first win at Michigan’s Yost Arena since Nov. 7, 2009. Miami’s record in Ann Arbor is 5-45-1 all-time.