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New college hockey replay procedure gets final approval

Failed coach challenges will first result in a lost timeout, then a two-minute minor penalty.

012521 S GFH UNDMHOK NCHCReferees MikeHaviland01.jpg
Colorado College head coach Mike Haviland (bottom right) talks with NCHC referees and linesmen during a stoppage in play in the second period of 2020-21 hockey game against the UND Fighting Hawks at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Video reviews will be a bit different this college hockey season.

The NCAA has given final approval to implement a new process for coach challenges. It also has added plays to the list that require a challenge in order to be reviewed.

Beginning this season, if a coach's challenge fails, the team will lose its timeout. If it doesn't have a timeout left, it can still challenge a reviewable play, but if that challenge fails, the team will be assessed a two-minute minor penalty.

Goaltender interference — a commonly reviewed play in college hockey — will now require a coach challenge in order to be reviewed. Previously, officials could review that on their own — and often did.

Offside and high sticking the puck into the net for a goal also will require coach challenges.

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"Committee members think the previous process created significant issues with game flow and put unnecessary pressure on officials to review plays without a formal challenge being made," the NCAA said in a statement.

Officials still have discretion to review other aspects of goals as well as plays where a major penalty is being considered.

The NCAA also issued new guidance aimed at producing fewer ejections and suspensions.

One change came in the wake of an NCAA tournament game between Michigan Tech and Minnesota Duluth this spring.

Tech's star player and Hobey Baker Award finalist, Brian Halonen, was assessed a five-minute major and ejected early in the first period for a checking from behind major. Most observers did not believe the hit warranted an ejection, but that particular penalty carried an automatic one, so the officials' hands were tied.

Now, officials will have the option to call standalone five-minute majors for checking from behind into the boards or contact to the head. An educational video will be developed to show the difference between a standalone five-minute major and one that also warrants an ejection.

The NCAA also added language to clarify that supplementary discipline — suspensions handed out after games by the league — should only be for egregious situations.

Several other rules changes were approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel:

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  • If a player has his or her skate above the blue line, the player will be ruled onside. Previously, the player's skate had to be in contact with the blue line.
  • The length of intermissions can only be 12 or 15 minutes. The NCAA removed the option for 18-minute intermissions. UND uses 15-minute intermissions at home games.
  • Overtime protocol will remain the same. Shootouts in nonconference games will be determined by the host school's conference protocol.
  • Offsides will now be a reviewable play, even if the defending team gains full possession of the puck after zone entry. Previously, if the defending team gained possession at any point during the sequence, offsides was no longer reviewable.
  • Players will no longer be able to go on the ice until warmups begin. The NCHC instituted this policy in 2019 after a comical incident involving Westin Michaud at Western Michigan.
  • Coaches can now challenge whether a skater covered a puck in the crease.

New transfer rules on the horizon

The NCAA is on track to pass new transfer rules next month.

The new rules would give players the ability to transfer an unlimited number of times, but it would implement a window for entering the transfer portal.

The window would open the day after the NCAA selection show in March and last for 60 days.

The recommendation will go to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors in August for final approval.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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