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College Hockey:
Contact to Head Crackdown Among Rules Changes

The NCAA is getting tough on contact-to-the-head penalties and getting creative in an effort to promote scoring when it comes to other rules changes.

Contact to the head will result in a major penalty and either a game misconduct or game disqualification under proposals by the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee unveiled Friday.

The proposals must be approved by the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel in July.

The NCAA has had a contact-to-the-head penalty since 2003, but this change toughens it.

“Player safety is critically important to the college hockey community,” said Forrest Karr, the athletic director at Alaska and the outgoing rules committee chair. “Players will be penalized severely for contact that targets the head and neck area.”

The committee also considered a proposal to allow players to wear half-shield visors instead of full-shield face protection for men’s hockey, but decided that it needed more scientific data before it could forward a formal proposal to the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport.

The most radical changes put forth by the rules committee involve icing.

Instead of no-touch icing, where play is stopped as soon as the puck crosses the goal line, a hybrid system will be used where officials determine whether icing should be waved off based on which player would reach the puck first, using the faceoff dots as a reference point.

If the official determines that the attacking player would reach the puck first, icing is waved off. A tie in the race for the puck goes to the defender, in which case icing is called.

Also, icing will be called even when a team is shorthanded, a rule change that has been used in USA Hockey Development Camps.

“In keeping with the committee’s philosophy to encourage skill and create scoring chances, this change will enhance power-play opportunities,” Karr said. “After lengthy discussion, the committee concluded that the previous rule inappropriately provided relief for a team that committed an infraction.”

Among other changes:

Goaltenders will change ends between the third period and overtime.

The obtainable pass rule was removed.

Teams will get a power play even if they score during a delayed penalty.

Niagara athletic director Ed McLaughlin was appointed to replace Karr as the committee chair.


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