LARRY MAHONEY

Potential rule changes would be positive development for college hockey

Posted May 04, 2012, at 7:36 p.m.

You’ve all heard the phrase ‘It’s a no-brainer.’ Or, in Maine lingo, ‘a no-brainah.’

That’s what all four potential rule changes for college hockey are.

They should all be implemented by the hockey rules committee for next season.

We are talking about:

1. Four-on-four (skaters) in overtime instead of the current five-on-five.

2. The three-quarter face shield to replace the full face mask.

3. Any puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate, as long as he doesn’t draw his skate back and deliberately kick it in, should be a good goal.

4. If the puck enters the net while the net is temporarily off its moorings, the goal should count if the referee rules it would have been a goal if the net had stayed on its moorings.

It is tough enough to score goals without having rules that make it even more difficult.

The four-on-four overtime, which is used by the NHL and most other leagues, is terrific.

It opens up the ice and enables the highly skilled players to showcase their talents during the five-minute OT.

It puzzles me that a survey revealed that roughly half of the nation’s 58 Division I coaches were against it, according to Maine coach Tim Whitehead, who is a member of the rules committee. Twenty-five of the 58 teams had at least five ties this past season. Sixteen had six or more.

Harvard had 11 ties.

In the NHL, if a game is tied after the regulation 60 minutes, each team gets a point. The team that scores in overtime or wins the ensuing shootout gets a second point.

Please, no shootouts.

I’m sure the NCAA can come up with an equation which adheres to that blueprint for the Pairwise Rankings that emulate the NCAA Tournament selection process.

The primary reason the NHL awards a point to each team after regulation is to encourage both teams to attack for a goal in order to earn the extra point.

If they didn’t both get a point, the inferior team would be more likely to sit back and defend to try to earn the point.

Personally, I’d like to see the NHL go to an eight-minute, four-on-four overtime.

The three-quarter shield is the only one of the four potential changes that also has to be approved by the NCAA’s Committee of Competitive Safeguards.

This will give players better peripheral vision and will enable them a better opportunity to avoid a potential concussion-causing collision.

That’s especially true if the puck is in their skates and they’re having trouble finding it. When your head is down, that’s the time you can get really clocked.

By having improved peripheral vision, they’ll be better able to showcase their abilities.

The fact their jaws and teeth will be more exposed should encourage players to keep their sticks down and think twice about blocking shots.

Knowing your opponent has a full face mask makes it open season for reckless sticks because players know their opponents aren’t in jeopardy.

Full face masks are rare in hockey after the players reach their teenage years.

Most leagues just use a half-shield.

It’s time for college hockey to conform.

The kicking-the-puck rule is like a handball in soccer.

It’s vague and open to interpretation by the referee.

So let’s make the rule clear.

A player can’t deliberately swing his skate at the puck.

If he directs it into the net by tilting his skate or if it simply deflects in off his skate, it’s a goal.

You can’t allow a player to swing his skate at the puck because the kicking motion could be potentially dangerous. Skates are extremely sharp.

A disputed goal because the net has come off its moorings should be a judgment call for the referees.

If the net is off its moorings when the puck crosses the goal line, the goal is supposed to be waved off under the current rules.

But if the refs feel it would have been a goal if the net hadn’t elevated off its moorings, it should be allowed.

The way the rule currently reads would result in a disallowed goal under that scenario.

We need clearer rules to reduce the amount of time it takes to conduct a video review.

And we need more goals and fewer ties.

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