College hockey may be headed to four-on-four for overtime games after a recommendation from the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee that all regular-season games follow that format for the five-minute extra session, according to an ncaa.com report.
If the game remains tied after the overtime, the committee also passed an experimental rule that has teams skating three-on-three for another five minutes, followed by a sudden-death shootout if the score remains tied.
The University of Maine plays in Hockey East, and the conferences will decide whether they want to pass the experimental rule.
The committee’s proposed rule for four-on-four, approved during its meetings this week in Indianapolis, will not become official until it is approved by the NCAA Playing Rules and Oversight Panel. It will discuss rule changes during a teleconference on July 20 after NCAA members provide comment and feedback.
“In our review of the game, it is clear that goal scoring is continuing to trend down,” Tom Anastos, chair of the committee and head men’s coach at Michigan State University said in the ncaa.com report.
“After a thorough discussion of the overtime process, and seeing the success experienced by the National Hockey League and others using four-on-four, we believe this change will be a positive step for NCAA hockey,” he added. “Our committee is charged with finding a balance in making changes that we believe will have a positive impact on the game, yet respect the traditions of the sport. We feel the changes we have adopted meet those objectives and will enhance our brand of hockey.”
The proposal would not be used for postseason conference and NCAA tourney games, which will still use a five-on-five sudden-death format in a 20-minute period.
The committee recommended the change after holding meetings with conference commissioners and NCAA hockey championship committees. If the overtime proposal is implemented, then some changes will be made to the RPI method to give some credit to a team that loses in the overtime period.