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Serratore against proposed rules adjustments to college hockey

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Serratore against proposed rules adjustments to college hockey
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Going against the wishes of the vast majority of Division I men's coaches -- and all 12 Western Collegiate Hockey Association coaches -- the NCAA Rules Committee recommended major rules changes for this upcoming season.

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Among others, the committee forwarded a suggestion that the NCAA no longer allow a team to ice the puck while killing a penalty.

News of the recommendation -- which needs the approval of the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel in July in order to go into effect -- caught coaches across the country off guard. During their April meetings, the coaches resoundingly voted down the icing proposal.

WCHA coaches voted 12-0 against it. Atlantic Hockey coaches voted 12-0 against it. And Central Collegiate Hockey Association coaches voted 11-0 against it.

"I think it's just a crime," Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. "I've been in college hockey for 18 years and I've never seen anything like this in my life. It was almost unanimous for the entire coaching body. How can the committee overturn the entire coaching body? I think it's sad, the lack of respect that the committee had for the coaching body.

"We didn't spend any time even talking about it because it was so radical. We just voted 12-0 and moved on."

Both Serratore and UND coach Dave Hakstol raised several concerns.

One is the safety issue. Since players are not allowed to change after an icing call, a player could be stuck on the ice for two or three minutes straight on a penalty kill.

Another concern is that the icing rule hasn't been tried on an experimental basis to determine if it works. No North American hockey league uses it.

"It's quite a shock," Hakstol said. "I haven't said much, but I'm going to speak my mind on this. I'm upset about us not having a say in it as a Division I coaching body. On a national basis, we were very strongly against it, if not unanimously against it.

"I'd be in favor of having some language that would allow us to experiment with a couple things in exhibition games. I'd like to be able to make some more educated decisions. But we haven't tried these rules. They've never been tried at a high level. And if this change is made, it's a two-year commitment."

The NCAA is only allowed to alter the rules every two years. This offseason is one of those years.

The rule also would apply to the women, as the NCAA has a universal rulebook.

Serratore said he was on the phone with coaches for much of the day.

"I'm trying to figure out if there's a way we can overturn this," he said, "because this is preposterous. I can't believe this went."

Another major recommendation is that the penalty of "contact to the head" becomes an automatic five-minute major and game misconduct, at minimum.

WCHA coaches forwarded the suggestion that referees have discretion whether to call a minor, a major or add an additional penalty on to the major, but that was not followed.

Hits to the head have come into focus after players in the NHL and college hockey suffered major injuries because of headshots.

"There's no easy answer to addressing the issue," Hakstol said. "It is an important issue to deal with, but I'm very afraid of taking hitting out of the game. I don't like jumping off the deep end. I think you have to address it with some very good facts and a certain degree of moderation. I'm not in favor of not leaving any options for our officials."

Serratore agreed with Hakstol.

"It's a situation that should be at the discretion of the referee," he said.

E The Rules Committee also proposed hybrid icing. Instead of touch-up icing, referees will determine which player is going to reach the puck first by using the faceoff dots as a reference point. A similar form is used in the United States Hockey League.

E It has been proposed that teams change sides for overtime.

E Another proposal calls for a team that scores on a delayed penalty to still get a power play. This rule is not used in other leagues.

"I'm not in favor of that either," Serratore said. "I think if a goal is scored 6-on-5, that should wipe out the penalty. But that's a situation that might happen once a year. I can deal with that.

"The icing, though. . . that's too radical, too drastic. I've never seen something so far-fetched and so off-the-wall. I'm very disappointed in some of the rules and hopefully we can get some of them overturned."

Brad E. Schlossman is a sports writer for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

E The Rules Committee also proposed hybrid icing. Instead of touch-up icing, referees will determine which player is going to reach the puck first by using the faceoff dots as a reference point. A similar form is used in the United States Hockey League.

- It has been proposed that teams change sides for overtime.

- Another proposal calls for a team that scores on a delayed penalty to still get a power play. This rule is not used in other leagues.

"I'm not in favor of that either," Serratore said. "I think if a goal is scored 6-on-5, that should wipe out the penalty. But that's a situation that might happen once a year. I can deal with that.

"The icing, though. . . that's too radical, too drastic. I've never seen something so far-fetched and so off-the-wall. I'm very disappointed in some of the rules and hopefully we can get some of them overturned."

Brad E. Schlossman is a sports writer for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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