The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee has had a change of heart.
After voting in June to prevent leagues from extending the five-minute, five-on-five overtime periods so there would be uniformity, the committee has overturned its decision and will allow leagues to implement their own overtime rules after the five-minute, five-on-five OT.
If the game is tied after the five-minute overtime, it still will go in the books as a tie in the eyes of the NCAA.
Leagues then may go to a shootout or reduced-manpower format after the five-minute period for a chance to earn an extra point for the league standings.
This will not affect the University of Maine and its conference, Hockey East, nor the Eastern College Athletic Conference or Atlantic Hockey because all three leagues adhere to the NCAA overtime rule and not playing beyond the five-minute overtime period.
But the National Collegiate Hockey Association and Western Collegiate Hockey Association went to a three-on-three five-minute period after the five-on-five OT, and if the teams remained tied after that they went to a shootout.
The Big Ten went directly to a shootout after the five-on-five OT period.
Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna, chairman of the rules committee, said that after the panel votes to pass a rule change, member schools and other college hockey followers may offer their opinions on the change and that can lead to it being overturned.
“We listened to the two leagues that have the three-on-three and the shootout, and they enjoy it and said the fans enjoy it. So we figured why should we stop these leagues from doing it?” Bertagna said.
He noted the process always has allowed for the committee to reconsider its initial decision.
Bertagna said college hockey is the only elite level of the sport that hasn’t tried a manpower reduction in overtime.
The National Hockey League and American Hockey League go to three-on-three right after regulation and then to a shootout if no one scores in the three-on-three. Both previously used four-on-four overtimes.
Bertagna said college coaches are a “conservative group by nature” and don’t want to risk losing valuable Ratings Percentage Index points in a three-on-three scenario.
Each team currently receives 50 percent of the points if a match is tied after the five-on-five overtime. An overtime winner gets 100 percent of the points.
“If each team was guaranteed a 45 percent (points) value if they were tied after 60 minutes and were playing overtime for just 10 percent (of the points), they might be fine with (reduced manpower overtimes),” Bertagna said.
Interconference games must adhere to the NCAA’s five-on-five, five-minute overtime rule.
Regular-season tournaments may extend to 20-minute overtimes or beyond to decide advancement or a champion.
Hockey East reduces playoff field
Hockey East will reduce its conference playoff field for the 2018-19 season from all 11 member schools to just the top eight teams.
“That was the athletic directors’ decision,” Bertagna said. “My guess is that the coaches would have liked to include everyone.”
He said part of the reason behind the athletic directors’ decision was financial.
Teams that host playoff games must pay the league a guarantee, “and some of the schools wouldn’t have drawn well enough (in the preliminary round) to meet the guarantee. That wouldn’t have been a problem at Maine because they draw well,” Bertagna said.
In other news, Bertagna said there have been “casual discussions” about adding a 12th Hockey East team, “but nothing has gone beyond that.”
He added that the league had a good showing at the NHL draft with 21 current players and incoming recruits selected, the most of any of the six NCAA Division I conferences. A total of 67 college players and future college players were picked.
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