ST. PAUL, Minn. -- National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Josh Fenton has long been a vocal supporter of using three-on-three overtimes in college hockey.

His league was the first to do it. When the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee proposed legislation to force standardized overtimes across the country's six conferences -- sans three-on-three -- Fenton successfully fought it.

On Thursday, during his State of the Conference address at the annual NCHC media day in St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, Fenton revealed hard data backing up his cause.

Fenton said there was a study that surveyed 550 student-athletes across four college hockey conferences asking the players if they wanted three-on-threes as part of overtime. Of those 550 players, 96 percent of them responded that they did want three-on-threes.

Presumably, some of those who didn't were goaltenders, who would see their stats inflated.

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Fenton said he has passed along the data to the Rules Committee, which has the ability to change college hockey's rules every other year. Next summer will be one of those seasons.

There's no doubt that Fenton and others will make a push to make three-on-three overtimes standard -- in one way or another.

Currently, all college hockey games that end in ties play a five-minute, five-on-five overtime. If nobody scores, the game officially goes in the book as a tie.

In the NCHC, Big Ten, Western Collegiate Hockey Association and Atlantic Hockey (new this upcoming season), they play a five-minute, three-on-three overtime for conference points only.

Next summer's push could be for everyone to adopt that format or it could be to eliminate the five-on-five overtime and just go straight into the three-on-three.

Fenton also took time to applaud Atlantic Hockey for joining the NCHC, Big Ten and WCHA by using three-on-threes. The only two leagues that don't are Hockey East and the ECAC.

Ref mics being shipped

Fenton said that all eight NCHC teams should soon be receiving equipment needed to mic-up refs this season.

Barring any unforeseen problems, all NCHC referees will wear portable microphones during games and will explain penalties and goal reviews to the crowd.

The NCHC experimented with this during an exhibition game in Ralph Engelstad Arena last season. It received rave reviews from fans.

NCHC director of officials Don Adam said the league is OK with referees showing personality when announcing calls, but he doesn't think fans will see an NCHC version of Wes McCauley, the colorful NHL official.

Third-place game in question

Fenton confirmed that the NCHC Frozen Faceoff will continue to feature a third-place game this season, but there's no guarantee they'll continue to do it beyond that.