WORCESTER, Mass. —The overtime rule used by the National Hockey League has a good chance of being implemented in college hockey next season, according to Ty Halpin, the assistant director of championships for the NCAA.
The NHL goes to four-on-four (skaters) for its five-minute overtime while college hockey still stays five-on-five.
That will be one of the primary topics of discussion when the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee meets in June.
“A lot of the coaches are in favor of it. There will be a lot of discussion,” said Halpin. “But I don’t expect to see shoot-outs (after the overtime).”
Halpin said there doesn’t seem to be much sentiment for shoot-outs among the coaches.
Halpin said the NCAA Hockey Tournament is “one of our healthiest championships” but he said they will discuss ways to improve it in June.
“You want to make it the best possible experience it can be,” said Halpin.”We want to know what we can do better.”
Holding regionals at campus sites could be a topic of discussion if there is a feeling that neutral regional sites aren’t drawing good crowds but Halpin admitted that “If I was a coach, I wouldn’t be in favor of it.”
Halpin predicted that the Frozen Four at the Tampa Bay Times Forum next month is going to be a memorable experience.
“Their organizing committee has done a great job,” said Halpin. “They sent a committee member to each of the four regionals to talk to the winning team. That’s never been done before.”
The Frozen Four will be held in Pittsburgh next season and then Philadelphia the following year as a trend toward the Frozen Four going to NHL sites has become popular. NHL teams are regular bidders for the event.
“The Frozen Four has been sold out every year since the Anaheim one, excluding Ford Field (in Detroit in 2010),” said Halpin, referring to the 1999 Frozen Four which had three Hockey East teams involved: Maine, Boston College and New Hampshire.
Maine beat New Hampshire 3-2 in overtime in the final.
The popularity of college hockey makes hosting the Frozen Four a worthwhile venture economically.
Halpin said one of the reasons for the sell-outs is that there are a number of fans who attend every year regardless of whether their team is involved.
Halpin noted that the NHL franchises that host the Frozen Four have been very accommodating.
“The Washington Capitals let the top seed use their locker room,” said Halpin referring to the 2009 Frozen Four won by Boston University.
Halpin said college hockey’s TV exposure has exploded in recent years.
“It must be up 250 percent over the last few years. It’s crazy. It’s great for the sport,” said Halpin.
The hockey tournament is one of five Division I tournaments that make money for the NCAA. The others, he said, are lacrosse, baseball, basketball and wrestling.
Parking lots very busy
Parking was at a premium for the NCAA Northeast Regional.
Gus Gbarwea, the area manager for Valet Parking of America, said all three of their parking lots were full as was the parking garage next to the facility that is run by the city.
That encompassed 200 cars.,
“This is unusual for a Saturday event,” he said. “But it’s hard to find parking in the city.”
He said he expected a good turn-out.
“Massachusetts is a hockey state, this is a hockey town,” said Gbarwea who noted that the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup last year has given hockey another positive bump in Massachusetts.