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Greg Johnson | | June 14, 2018

Standardized overtime proposed in ice hockey

The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee approved a standardized overtime format for all regular-season games and in-season tournaments beginning with the 2018-19 season.

When a game remains tied after regulation time, teams will play five-on-five for five minutes to determine a winner. If neither team scores, the result will be a tie. No other options, including alternative formats for points in conference standings, will be permitted.

This change makes all games consistent and removes several overtime options from the rules book.

“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.”

During regular-season tournaments that require advancement, two options will be available after the five-minute overtime is played. Events may choose to utilize a shootout, using the specified rules, or conduct 20-minute sudden death periods. Postseason competition options include 20-minute sudden death periods or the minigame format (utilized in some conference championships).

All rules changes must be approved by the NCAA 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.

Video review for ejections

The committee proposed several other changes to improve its rules. One significant change is to allow the use of video review in situations where ejecting a student-athlete is being considered. Because such calls are critical, and officials must currently make these determinations after viewing the play in real time, the committee believes this change will be a positive.

“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.

For the first time, the committee voted to issue separate points of emphasis for men’s and women’s ice hockey. Some components are shared, but the committee believes it is important to focus on each gender separately.

Protection of the student-athlete remains the top point of emphasis for both genders.

“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. “Representatives of women’s ice hockey on the committee identified a need to clarify the differences between legal and illegal contact and began steps to put measures in place to be communicated to players, coaches and officials.”

Further, both committees believe a renewed focus on respect is appropriate.

“Respect for the game and respect for each other truly must be front and center,” Bertagna said. “We included our concerns over the spread of embellishment in that section. It has grown in both the men’s and women’s game and needs to be stopped.”

Other significant rule changes:

  • The committee redefined slashing to encourage better enforcement and specifically identified this as an illegal defensive tactic.
  • 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.
  • In overtime games, each team will have one timeout to utilize in overtime, regardless of whether a timeout was used during regulation play.
  • The number of skaters allowed to each team will be increased to 19 (current rule allows up to 18).
  • 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.

Greg Johnson is an associate director of membership communications at the NCAA.

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