June 22, 2011 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Rules Committee Discusses Changes

CHN Staff Report

The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee has clarified some rules and added guidance on others as part of its two-year cycle. This is the middle of the current two-year cycle, meaning no actual rules have actually been added or changed.

The main focus for the committee, as it is throughout the hockey world, is contact to the head.

“Progress was certainly made this season,” Ed McLaughlin, athletic director at Niagara and chair of the committee, told the NCAA.com. “We are adding some additional guidance to support what is already in our rules in the hope that players, coaches and officials can better understand expectations with this rule.”

Specifically, the committee clarified that a player does not have to "target" an opponent for the penalty to be called. In addition, they added several bullet point examples for what deserves to be called under the contact to the head rule.

The committee further emphasized, as well, language that already appears in the rules: “A player delivering a check to an unsuspecting and vulnerable player puts themselves in jeopardy of being penalized under this rule.”

“We believe our rule is the most robust and aggressive in ice hockey,” McLaughlin said. “What we saw this year was a good start. We’re trying to take any doubt out of this call and help officials who have only one game-speed view of a play to determine how to officiate this play. We realize this is a big penalty and a serious one, but this approach has worked with hitting from behind and we believe it will work here to adjust player behavior.”

There were several points of emphasis, as well, as there are each year.

* Embellishment and diving will be further cracked down upon

* The committee has provided guidance regarding obstruction along the boards, where the defensive tactic of pressing and releasing an opponent should be allowed, but impeding is not

* Emphasis was placed on "facewashing" an opponent, with further crackdowns expected

In addition, the committee has removed a restriction on the number of players that can dress for exhibition games, pending approval from the Playing Rules Oversight Panel on a July conference call.

The committee, meanwhile, has several areas it is considering for rules changes for the next cycle, and will continue to study them and listen to opinions. These include:

* The committee is strongly considering going to 4-on-4 play during regular-season overtime, and is evaluating options like longer overtime periods. The committee will continue to allow shootouts in conference play, but there is little support for mandating it across the board.

* Expanding the ability to award a goal even after the net is dislodged. Right now, it can be awarded if there is an imminent and/or egregious act by the defense. The committee believes there are some goals that should count in situations beyond this, and plans to adjust these rules accordingly.

* The committee is again taking up the task of face shields and visors, on the recommendation of the hockey coaches. This has been an ongoing issue for decades. The committee has been asked to investigate the potential for voluntary use of partial face shields. A subcommittee was formed to work with the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport to research the matter. [The problem with allowing voluntary use of face shields is that it wouldn't necessarily prevent what coaches are trying to prevent, which is reckless use of the stick and elbows by players who think they, and opponents, are invincible because of the full shield. If only some players go to a half shield, voluntarily, then it keeps them exposed to players who are wearing full shields and may be playing recklessly (theoretically speaking). ed.]

* The committee discussed the options of allowing a hand pass in all three zones (offensive, neutral and defensive) along with the possibility of disallowing hand passes in any zone.

* Current rules require that goal judges be used in NCAA games. With the increasing use of video replay during contests, the committee believes that this rule should be optional in the future and that conferences/institutions may determine if goal judges need to be used.

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