Traditional 5-on-5 overtime periods may finally be purged from college hockey.
On Friday, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee recommended that starting next season teams play a five-minute, 3-on-3, sudden-death overtime period in regular-season games.
All proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to meet on July 22.
If neither team scores during the 3-on-3, the game will go into the books as a tie in the eyes of the NCAA.
However, conferences could elect to go on to a three-player shootout to be used for points in the standings or to decide an in-season tournament game.
All NCAA Tournament games will retain the sudden-death, 5-on-5 overtime format.
If approved, NCAA rules would fall in line with virtually every other league in the world.
The National Hockey League went from a 5-on-5 overtime format to a 4-on-4 for the 1999-2000 season and then moved to 3-on-3 starting in 2015-2016.
The American Hockey League and the ECHL, the NHL’s top minor leagues, also feature 3-on-3 overtimes as do Junior leagues such as the United States Hockey League and the leagues in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, which send a lot of players to U.S. colleges.
“We want to get in line with the rest of the hockey world,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said.
He also believes the 3-on-3 overtime will create more excitement for the fans since there will be so much open ice.
What must still be decided is the allocation of PairWise percentage points. The PairWise rankings mimic the NCAA Tournament selection committee process.
With the 5-on-5 overtime, the winning team earned 100 percent of the points and the loser got nothing.
There is strong sentiment among college coaches that, under the 3-on-3 overtime proposal, the losing team should receive 45 percent of the PairWise percentage points and the winner should get 55 percent, Gendron said. The feeling is that a team that plays to a tie after 60 minutes has earned something, especially with only a brief 3-on-3 overtime to follow.
Three-on-three situations during regulation, which are caused by multiple penalties, are extremely rare.
In the NHL, if a game is tied after 60 minutes of regulation, each team earns a point toward the standings. The team that scores in overtime or wins in the shootout gains an extra point.
Last season in college hockey, if a game was tied after the five-minute overtime, the game was considered a tie by the NCAA. But leagues were allowed to extend overtime to provide for the awarding of extra league points.
Hockey East, Atlantic Hockey and the ECAC Hockey League did not extend their games after the 5-on-5 overtime, but the Big Ten, Western Collegiate Hockey Association and National Collegiate Hockey Conference followed it with first a 3-on-3 and then a three-player shootout.
The western leagues awarded three points to the team that won in regulation or the 5-on-5 OT, two for a 3-on-3 or shootout win, and one to a team that lost in the 3-on-3 or the shootout.
That is a possible scenario for all conferences next season.
Gendron hopes all the leagues will unanimously adopt the same overtime — either adding the shootout after the three-on-three or not adding it — so there will be uniformity.
One thing the 3-on-3 overtime likely will do is reduce the number of ties in college hockey. Last season, there were 125 ties among the 1,049 NCAA Division I men’s games, which was nearly 12 percent of all games.
The other significant rule change proposals involve faceoffs.
The Ice Hockey Rules Committee has proposed that teams be allowed to choose from which offensive zone faceoff circle the puck will be dropped when it starts a power play or after the opponent has iced the puck.
It also proposed that players guilty of a faceoff infraction be warned but not get ejected from the circle. But, if the same team is guilty of a second violation, a two-minute bench minor penalty for delay of game will be called.