USCHO has an article outlining the areas of discussion for potential rule changes to NCAA ice hockey. Seeing as the committee can only change rules every two years, it is important they get it right.
University of Alaska athletic director and former Notre Dame goaltender Forrest Karr heads up the committee and, based on the article, it appears player safety is the top concern, particularly injuries resulting from contact to the head. Karr notes to USCHO that the number of CTH penalties has increased the past two seasons.
“We hope it’s not because more people are violating the rules, more people are hitting to the head,” Karr tells USCHO. “We hope it’s because officials are more aware of it and making the calls more often.”
Two options under consideration are giving officials discretion to call a major penalty and game misconduct or game disqualification, or making contact to the head a standalone penalty instead of having another penalty attached to it.
I’m not sure how that latter one would affect anything. If I understand that correctly, they could just call a penalty for “contact to the head” rather than “contact to the head – roughing” or “contact to the head – elbowing.” But typically any penalty involving contact to the head involves a fist, elbow, or stick to begin with, so it doesn’t seem like to me making it a standalone penalty would change anything.
Other issues of note:
- Half shields instead of full face masks, though Karr said it’s not likely to get decided this offseason. However, Karr said nearly 100 percent (!) of coaches are in favor of half shields. The players want it. The coaches want it. So naturally the NCAA probably isn’t going to go for it.
- Changes to the format of overtime hockey to reduce the number of ties. “My overall feeling was that coaches are not largely supportive of the shootout,” Karr said. “But if we were going to go to a shootout, they’d like to follow the NHL model of a four-on-four followed by a shootout.” Emphasis mine. I’m not a big fan of shootouts. The CCHA was the only league to implement a shootout for conference games last season.
- The officiating system. According to the article, the CCHA is the only conference opposed to the current two referee system. Interesting. I’d be interested in hearing more why, though if it reduces the number of times the referee at center ice blows the play dead when there is a loose puck in the crease rather than, you know, letting the official standing behind the net make the call (not that that has EVER happened to us…), I’m all for it.
- Changing the rule so all goals that go in off a skate count, rather than just those deflected in. Karr said the “iconic” coaches floated this idea. I’m in total favor of it. The way the rule is right now, where you can deflect in the puck off a skate but can’t direct it in, has caused way too many controversies. Time to simplify it—either count them all or don’t count any.
- Changes to penalty enforcement (player remains in box for full minor or double-minor penalty, penalized team can’t make line change—similar to a team who ices the puck, shorthanded team can’t ice the puck, etc…).
- Eliminating the player’s ability to leave his feet or slide to block a shot. Huh?! Who thought up this one? Their theory is that it decreases scoring chances. Well, DUH! Maybe that’s because it’s the defense’s job to PREVENT scoring chances. Hence why it’s called DEFENSE. Seriously, can you imagine this while watching a game… “Penalty to Chris Summers, two minutes for sliding to block a shot.” I’ll stop watching college hockey if this ever becomes reality. Dumb…just dumb.