May 21, 2018
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Hockey East says no to new NCAA rule allowing women players to hit puck with high stick

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
University of Maine women's ice hockey coach Sara Simard Reichenbach watches her team participate in a drill last season at Alfond Arena in Orono.
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved several rule changes that were recommended by the Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee and one of them is an experimental rule that allows women to legally hit the puck with a high stick.

All the rule changes will be effective beginning this season and will be used for at least two years.

Players at all levels of hockey haven’t been allowed to hit a puck above the height of the shoulders until this rule change for women’s NCAA hockey, which opens the door for it.

However, it is up to the individual leagues to approve it and Hockey East has already nixed the idea.

“The athletic directors voted unanimously against it,” said Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna.

“It doesn’t make any sense [to allow it], especially with all the concern about concussions,” said Bertagna.

The only apparent benefits would be the elimination of a few whistles per game and the potential for more goals.

Sara Simard Reichenbach, the University of Maine’s women’s assistant coach, said she also heard in the Hockey East meetings that some coaches thought batting the puck out of the air required skill and players shouldn’t be penalized for a skillful play.

If a player hits the puck with a high stick now, the referee stops play and brings the faceoff down into the offending team’s defensive zone.

Reichenbach noted that the new rule would reduce whistles and produce more goals but she agreed with Bertagna and the league’s athletic directors that it would be dangerous and shouldn’t be implemented.

“I don’t think any league will approve it,” she said.

As for the other significant rules changes that apply to both men’s and women’s hockey:

— There can be a five-minute major called for interference, particularly pertaining to blindside hits that aren’t to the head or neck area.

Players taking a faceoff can’t play the puck with their hand or they will now be assessed a penalty for it. It used to result in just another faceoff.

— During end-zone faceoffs, the defending team’s faceoff taker must put their stick down first. Previously, it was up to the attacking player’s faceoff taker to put their stick down first. Faceoffs in center ice or the neutral zone will continue to require the visiting team player to put his or her stick down first.

— If an offensive team is attempting to score and the puck goes out of play, the puck will remain in the attacking zone.

— On a penalty shot or in shootouts that are used by some conferences, if the goal becomes dislodged by the goalie, the referee can either award a goal if the goalie intentionally dislodged it and the goal was imminent or allow the team to shoot again.

— Video replays can come from any source available to game officials, not just from a television broadcast. Videos can now be used to determine if a goal is scored before a penalty occurs or if an offsides or too many men on the ice penalty is missed and a goal is scored. The play may be reviewed only if the puck remains in the offensive zone after the missed infraction.

— If a player awarded a penalty shot is injured or unable to take the shot, one of the players on the ice at the time of the infraction can take it.


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