Overtime uniformity for regular-season games will be one of the primary topics of discussion at the annual American Hockey Coaches Association convention that gets underway on Wednesday in Naples, Florida.
The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee can implement rules changes every two years and University of Maine head coach Red Gendron said having all six Division I conferences follow the same overtime format is at the top of the list.
In conference tournament and NCAA tournament games, teams play additional 20-minute, sudden-death periods until one team scores.
Under current NCAA rules, whenever a game is tied after regulation during the regular season, the teams play a five-minute, sudden-death overtime. If nobody scores, the game goes in the books as a tie on the teams’ NCAA records.
But three of the six conferences extend their overtime beyond the five-minute standard and award conference standings points based on the outcome.
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association go to a five-minute, sudden-death period skating 3-on-3 plus goalies. If nobody scores, they go to a sudden-death shootout where if the first team to shoot scores and the other doesn’t, or vice versa, the game is over.
In the NCHC and the WCHA, teams are awarded three points for a regulation or normal overtime win and two points for a 3-on-3 or sudden-death shootout win. The losing team earns one point for a loss in the 3-on-3 or shootout OT formats.
Over the years, some coaches and administrators have felt there were too many ties in college hockey. Reducing the number of players for an overtime period creates more open ice and increases the chances of a goal being scored.
Last season, the nation’s 60 Division I programs were involved in 116 ties among the 1,132 games — 10.2 percent of the games.
In the Big 10, the NCAA-mandated overtime is followed by a shootout with each team having three shooters. If it still tied after the three-player shootout, they go to a sudden-death shootout.
Big 10 teams receive three points for a regulation or overtime win, two for a shootout win and one for a shootout loss.
Hockey East, the ECAC Hockey League and Atlantic Hockey follow the NCAA overtime format and they award their teams two points for a regulation or overtime win and one for an overtime tie.
The NHL recently changed from a 4-on-4 overtime followed by a three-round shootout and a sudden-death shootout, if necessary, to a five-minute 3-on-3 OT followed by the three-player shootout and the sudden-death shootout.
NHL teams receive two points for a regulation, overtime or shootout win and one for a regulation tie.
Gendron said one of the points that must be ironed out is how a single overtime format will be calculated into the PairWise Rankings that mimic the NCAA’s tournament selection process.
The dynamics to be determined include whether a regulation win, an overtime or shootout win will count the same in the eyes of the NCAA or whether a team will be rewarded for an OT or shootout loss.
According to a story by Brad Elliott Schlossman in the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald, in the first 40 years of the University of North Dakota program (1947-1987), fewer than five percent of college hockey games ended in ties.
Several hockey leagues at various levels also reduced the number of players in overtime and implemented the shootout so because they create more excitement for the fans.
Gendron prefers the traditional format that Hockey East uses but quickly added that “I’m not adverse to change if it improves the product.
“But I don’t think changing the overtime format is going to increase attendance at our games. Winning does,” said Gendron.
If the coaches and administrators agree to an overtime format change, it will be submitted to the NCAA hockey rules committee for approval and could be implemented as soon as next season.
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