June 11, 2010 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Rules Changes: Proposal Makes Contact to Head a Major

Icing on Penalty Kills Would No Longer Be Allowed

CHN Staff Report

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee will look to increase penalties for hits to the head, as part of this year's package of proposals it approved. The proposals get sent to the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel in July, which must consider and approve it before final implementation.

One change that was not in the package, however, was one that would allow college hockey players to wear half shields as legal equipment instead of the full shields or visors that is currently mandated. Coaches have long been an overwhelming proponent of this change because they believe players are more reckless with full shields, and thus the game is actually less safe. But the NCAA has always been reluctant to make that change because of safety and liability concerns.

The idea has picked up steam again recently, however, because of two reasons: changes in the technology, and the increased lobbying efforts led by the new College Hockey Inc.

While not in the package, the idea of half shields was sent for further study, the Rules Committee said. "The committee identified the need for additional scientific data before a formal proposal can be forwarded to the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport," according to the committee's news release.

Meanwhile, a "contact to the head" penalty would now carry a minimum of a major penalty and game misconduct or game disqualification penalty.

“Player safety is critically important to the college hockey community,” said Forrest Karr, chair of the committee and director of athletics at Alaska. “Players will be penalized severely for contact that targets the head and neck area.”

The contact to the head rule was first implemented as an automatically minor penalty in 2003.

The committee also approved changes to its icing rule to combine the current automatic procedure with the touch-up system used professionally. In the new model, the official determines which player will reach the puck first, using the faceoff dots as a reference point. If it is determined to be the attacking player, icing is waved off. If it is the defending player, icing is called. A tie goes to the defender.

In addition, the committee approved a rule to enforce icing throughout the game, including power plays. Previously, shorthanded teams have been allowed to ice the puck. This new rule has been used in USA Hockey Player Development Camps.

“In keeping with the committee’s philosophy to encourage skill and create scoring chances, this change will enhance power-play opportunities,” Karr said. “After lengthy discussion, the committee concluded that the previous rule inappropriately provided relief for a team that committed an infraction.”

Interesting, as well, is what wasn't changed. Despite a lot of chatter, and debate, over whether the regular-season overtime system and/or referee system should be changed — neither was. The only thing in the proposed changes is that teams will now switch ends in overtime, as the pro leagues do.

In other actions, the committee:

• Removed the obtainable pass rule. In recent years, this gave the officials discretion to wave off icing in cases where they believed a pass attempt was being made.

• Altered the delayed penalty rule to provide the non-offending team a power play, even if a goal is scored during the delay.

• Appointed Ed McLaughlin, Niagara University director of athletics, as chair.

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