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3-on-3 overtime may be eliminated in college hockey

BEMIDJI -- Time may be up on 3-on-3 overtime and shootouts in college hockey.

The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee approved a standardized overtime format Thursday that would require all conferences to only use a five-minute, 5-on-5 overtime period. Instead of continuing to a 3-on-3 period and a shootout, games still deadlocked after the 5-on-5 overtime would end in a tie.

The proposal could be approved during a July 25 conference call by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel. Until then, a comment period will take place with schools and conferences giving feedback.

Leagues had previously been allowed to play a 3-on-3 overtime and/or shootout for conference points after the required 5-on-5 overtime.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, which includes Bemidji State, has used a 3-on-3 overtime and shootout in men’s games for the last two seasons. The National Collegiate Hockey Conference has used the 3-on-3 and shootout format for the last three years. The Big Ten, as well as the WCHA women’s league, have used a shootout only.

The three eastern men’s leagues -- Atlantic Hockey, ECAC Hockey and Hockey East -- end their games after 5-on-5 overtime.

The 12-person NCAA Rules Committee that approved the change has no members from the WCHA, NCHC or Big Ten.

BSU men’s head coach Tom Serratore is not a fan of the proposed change.

“I’m not happy with it,” he said. “I’m disappointed, obviously. I think we’re taking a step back. We’re one of the only leagues in the world that doesn’t eventually go into a 3-on-3 overtime/shootout type format.”

BSU women’s head coach Jim Scanlan agrees with his colleague.

“I’m against it,” Scanlan said. “I’m a little bit confused as to why the NCAA is not allowing the leagues to determine how they want to award the extra point like they’ve done in the past.”

Every major professional league in North America -- including the NHL, AHL and ECHL -- plays 3-on-3 overtime in the regular season, as does the USHL and the three Canadian major junior leagues.

Scanlan sees the value of ending games with a definite result, and not a tie.

“Determining that extra point is important,” he said. “I think also recognizing a tie for PairWise (Ranking) purposes is important. I think that’s the reason everybody felt we should keep the 5-on-5. But I think the extra point was good. I certainly wouldn’t oppose going 3-on-3 like the men. I think there should be some way you can determine who gets the extra point.”

After two seasons of 3-on-3, Serratore had hoped the WCHA’s format would ultimately take hold nationally.

“We were hoping that eventually all of college hockey would go to it,” Serratore said. “College hockey right now wants one standard overtime procedure, which I understand. College basketball, college football has one standard overtime. So we understand that.”

But Serratore believes the game is losing the entertainment value that 3-on-3 provides, for fans and players alike.

“It’s a fan’s game and I think we’re taking some excitement away from the fans,” Serratore said. “And I also think the players enjoy it. They love it. Anytime you start a 3-on-3 or shootout, you have every fan in the building standing up. They’re excited and entertained by it, and I think we’re taking that component away.”

Other rule changes

The NCAA Rules Committee also approved several other rule changes that could be finalized next month. Among the proposed rule changes:

  • Teams will be allowed to dress 19 skaters, rather than the current 18.
  • Video review will be allowed when a player ejection is being considered.
  • Slashing has been redefined to encourage better enforcement and will be specifically identified as an illegal defensive tactic.
  • Players coming off the ice for line changes must be within five feet of their bench before another player takes the ice for the substitution to be legal.
  • Teams will receive a timeout in overtime, even if they used their timeout in regulation.
  • A player who catches the puck must immediately place it on the ice for play to continue legally. A minor penalty will be assessed if a player catches and conceals or throws the puck.
  • To reduce the number of video review situations, coaches must use a challenge to review goals scored where a potential high stick is involved or plays where the puck touches the netting out of play and leads to a goal.
Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

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