At the American Hockey Coaches Association meetings this week, the NCAA Hockey Committee will discuss potential rule changes with coaches. This is a rule change year for hockey, so anything potentially goes, as opposed to off-years where only safety rules and modification of recent rule changes are permitted. The biggest topic for the committee happens to be a safety issue. The committee is expected to allow players to wear three-quarters visors as opposed to full face shields. The reduced face shields are being proposed as a safety improvement:
The issue at hand is the potential for increase for certain injuries, particularly dental injuries. But the feeling among coaches and administrators on the hockey side is that a reduced-sized face shield will make the players more responsible with their sticks as well in dangerous hits to the head, thus possibly reducing the number of concussions in the game.
The change was discussed two years ago but the committee did not feel it had the data to support such a change at the time. The NCAA worked with the United State Hockey League to get enough data over the years that now the reduced shields are expected to adopted.
The other big change may be to eliminate ties in the regular season and have a winner and loser in each game. Ideas include a longer, four-on-four overtime followed by a shootout. The Big Ten and National College Hockey Conference have been experimenting with those rules the past year and the committee may expand these overtime rules to all conferences.
Other possible rule changes include:
- Expand the use of video replay to include more types of plays, especially game misconduct penalties.
- Move all neutral-zone faceoffs to center ice.
- Automatic one-game suspension for players who receive a major penalty in the last five minutes of a game.
- Clarify delay-of-game penalties in situations where a team cannot substitute players.
- Prohibit players from leaving their feet to block shots.
- Standardized the depth of nets across all arenas, possibly using the NHL’s new, shallower nets.
Following the discussion at the convention, the next step will be the committee’s meeting in June in Indianapolis where the rules may be adopted. The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel would provide final approval in July.