New NCAA hockey rules proposals aim at cutting down number of video reviews
Fans, coaches and players have all complained about the number of video reviews in college hockey games in recent years.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee is attempting to reduce the number of video reviews during games.
The Committee revealed in its biennial rules change proposals Friday that it is taking a two-pronged approach to addressing the growing number of video reviews, which have come under fire in recent years for frequently delaying games.
First, the Committee is limiting what officials have discretion to review on their own. If the proposal goes through — as expected — goaltender interference, offside infractions and pucks played with a high stick that lead to goals will only be reviewed if a coach challenges it.
Second, there will be punishments for failed coach challenges. A team will lose its timeout for an unsuccessful challenge. If it has no timeouts remaining, it will be assessed a two-minute minor delay of game penalty.
"The committee believes this change will reduce the number of reviews while still providing tools to ensure the most significant calls are made accurately," said Joe Gervais, committee chair and associate athletics director at Vermont. "All areas of the hockey community indicated support for reducing the number of replay reviews."
The Rules Committee met in Indianapolis this week to discuss the changes. UND deputy athletic director Erik Martinson is on the Rules Committee. All proposals will be reviewed by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on July 20 before going into effect for the upcoming season.
While some plays will require coach challenges to be reviewed, officials will still have discretion to review other aspects of goals — like whether a puck completely crossed the goal line.
Changes to major penalties
Officials also will be able to review potential five-minute major penalties.
However, five-minute major penalties for checking from behind into the boards and for contact to the head will no longer automatically result in an ejection, too.
"We strongly believe player behavior has improved and remain committed to enhancing player safety with these critical rules," Gervais said. "In recent years, the rigid nature of the penalty has resulted in ejecting players that do not warrant such a severe penalty."
The play that sparked this rule change came in the first round of the 2022 NCAA tournament. Michigan Tech star Brian Halonen, a Hobey Baker Award finalist, was ejected early in the first period for checking from behind against Minnesota Duluth. Most observers did not believe the hit warranted an ejection, but the officials didn't feel they had any leeway with the way the rules were written.
Other coaches echoed the sentiment that too many players were being ejected for plays that didn't warrant it.
Now, officials will be able to decide whether a major penalty should stand alone or if it should be coupled with an ejection (game misconduct) or an ejection and one-game suspension (game disqualification).
The NCAA will distribute a video to show officials what it believes is the difference between a hit that warrants a stand-alone major and one that should be coupled with an ejection.
Shootouts in nonconference games
The current overtime format — five minutes of three-on-three after a scoreless regulation — will continue.
Each conference has the ability to use shootouts for league points after that.
The Committee now has opened the door for shootouts in nonconference games. When nonconference games are tied after the three-on-three, they'll now play whatever format the host school's conference uses.
So, UND's nonconference games in Ralph Engelstad Arena will now have shootouts, because UND's league, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, uses them.
That also opens the door for the NCAA Championship Committee to award Pairwise points for winning shootouts, though the coaching body has been against that in the past.
- Offside: A player will now be considered onside if the skate is over the blue line when the puck enters the zone. In the past, the skate had to be in contact with the blue line.
- Supplementary discipline: The committee added language to say suspensions are intended for egregious situations. Coaches felt there have been too many suspensions for hits that don't warrant it.
- Video review for offside/possession: In the 2017 NCAA tournament, UND had a game-winning goal disallowed because of offside, despite the offside happening long before the goal and having no impact on it. After that, the rule was changed, so if the defending team had full possession of the puck, offside could no longer be reviewed. That has now been changed back. Offside can once again be reviewed even if the defending team gets possession of the puck.
- Pregame/intermission protocols: Players can no longer be on the ice before pregame warmups, which start about 40 minutes before the game. This is a rule the NCHC instituted after former UND and Colorado College forward Westin Michaud attempted to carry a net to the dressing room in 2019 to prevent opponents from shooting on it . After intermissions, players who are not starting the period on the ice are asked to file directly into the bench instead of skating a lap or two.
- Intermission length: Intermissions can be 12 or 15 minutes. The Committee removed the option for 18-minute intermissions, which were used in the NCAA regionals. The Big Ten uses 12-minute intermissions. The NCHC uses 15.
- Covering puck in crease: Coaches can now challenge whether a skater (non-goalie) covered the puck in the crease.