June 8, 2012 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Rules Committee Holds Off Visor Legislation

Variety of Other Rules Tweaks Will Be Implemented

CHN Staff Report

The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee has made their recommendations on changes to the rulebook, but one change that has not been requested is generating the most interest.

The committee has been investigating a change from the requirement of full face shields to three-quarter visors. According to its own survey, 83 percent of current college hockey players would prefer the change, and almost all of the coaches.

But the committee has decided to hold off on formally requesting the change during this season. Any request would have to be approved by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards. The ice hockey committee plans to continue working with Competitive Safeguards to collect data and assess the situation over the next two years.

The coaches generally believe that switching to three-quarter visors would reduce the chance for serious injury by improving peripheral vision and eliminating the aura of invincibility, which they believe creates more reckless play.

The committee and coaches also believe that technology has improved to the point where three-quarter visors are a good replacement. The committee also plans to work on other equipment issues in conjunction with the visor issue to help reduce serious head injuries, such as requiring softer padding on equipment.

The rules committee has plans to meet with the Competitive Safeguards committee next week to review the data that's been collected and work on what to do going forward.

According to an NCAA News article, "The committee hopes that a partnership with the competitive-safeguards committee and other hockey organizations (for example, National Hockey League, USA Hockey, United States Hockey League) will lead to the use of visors.

"Committee members understand the challenge of explaining how removing a piece of protective equipment may have a positive impact on student-athlete safety."

Full cages were implemented in 1978 as a way to protect eyes and other serious facial injuries. It was not originally meant to protect against concussions, which weren't as prevalent at the time. The committee believes that three-quarter visors can continue to protect the face from most injuries, while also addressing the concussion issue.

Other changes

Meanwhile, the committee submitted a series of other changes for approval. The Playing Rules Oversight Panel will meet next month in order to give final approval on these, but it's largely considered a rubber stamp.

* The biggest change will be moving towards the NHL rule on net dislodgement. College hockey has been strict about disallowing goals if the net becomes dislodged at all before the puck goes in. Now, like in the NHL, if the posts remain in contact with the pegs or pins, the referee can allow the goal if it's determined the puck would have entered the net anyway between the normal position of the goal posts. This is only true if it's the defensive player that dislodged the net; if an offensive player did it, the goal will be disallowed.

* Again, moving towards the NHL interpretation, goals will be allowed off the skate as long as there's not a "distinct kicking motion." The rules committee has become more and more lenient in recent years, attempting a variety of different interpretations. This finally gets it in line with where the NHL currently stands.

* Without consensus on where to go with the overtimes, the committee recommended that the option be given for non-league games to play 4-on-4 for 5 minutes. If teams can't agree, the fallback will remain the usual 5-on-5 for 5 minutes.

* Going back to the original rule, and away from what the NHL is doing, college hockey will again make hand passes illegal in all zones. And, as with the icing rule, the team called for the hand pass will not be allowed to change its players before the ensuing defensive-zone faceoff.

* Beginning in 2013-14, a two-referee, two-linesman system will be mandatory in men's ice hockey. Additionally, goal judges are no longer required for NCAA games and will only be recommended.

* The committee voted to allow a postgame review of disqualification penalties by the on-ice officials. The conferences will be consulted on how best to implement a procedure. With plenty of video evidence available to officials these days, it was only natural that postgame reviews should be allowed.

* Michigan State coach Tom Anastos has been named the new chair of the committee, effective Sept. 1. This is not a trivial move, given Anastos' administrative experience, which will come of great use as the committee continues to work with the NCAA on the visors issue.

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