15-second Faceoff Rule Adopted, Plus Others

The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee took careful note during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and noticed something it wants to add to the college game: speed. They’re not talking about better passing or quicker skating, but rather faster re-starts after whistles.

Last week, during its annual meeting in San Francisco, the Committee voted to insert a 15-second faceoff rule that will require officials to drop the puck 15 seconds after the conclusion of the preceding play in an attempt to speed up and shorten the length of the college game. The 15-second faceoff rule was one of a host of rules and points of emphasis adopted during the meetings.

Those who watched the 2002 Olympics saw a significant decrease in actual game time. Whereas the average game time in the National Hockey League is creeping up on three hours, the Olympics saw hockey games completed in a little more than two hours, with medal round games averaging just around two hours and fifteen minutes.

Of note, one aspect of the rule different from its use in the Olympics is television timeouts. College will allow for TV timeouts and not require the puck to be dropped while television is on commercial. The Olympic rules did not make any time of adjustment for television which resulted in goals being scored during commercial on several occasions.

In addition to the new faceoff rule, the committee also adopted five other rule and procedure changes and noted five points of emphasis. The biggest of these will be to modify the current goaltender’s crease by eliminating the area in front of the net outside of the goalposts. Already in use in the NHL, the reduced-size crease will eliminate crease violations.

This new crease will come into play most in during the playoffs and NCAA tournament. When instant replay is used in such events, the instant replay official is directed to “wave off” any goal scored while an attacking team’s skater precedes the puck into the crease. As recent as this past season, the larger crease resulted in many of the disallowed goals despite the fact that the attacker was not interfering with the goaltender.

Other rule changes for the 2002-03 season include:

  • Clipping: The Committee will introduce a new penalty that focuses on hits at or below the knee.
  • Awarding goals: In certain situations where a goal is imminent, officials will have the ability to award a goal.
  • Video replay criteria: The Committee added language that will allow a goal to be disallowed if it was scored as a result of a hand pass or high stick by the attacking team.
  • Two-person officiating system: The Committee voted to eliminate the two-person system from the rules book, effective in the 2003-04 season. The delay in implementation is to allow those conferences that use the system to adjust to the change.

The committee developed five points of emphasis:

  • Intent to injure: Dangerous hits and contact to the head.
  • Sportsmanship: Diving and showing up the officials will not be tolerated. Additionally, officials will read a statement to coaches and bench officials reminding them about the abuse of officials rules.
  • Obstruction: Already a point of emphasis, the committee continues to see a need for obstruction to be emphasized.
  • Speeding up the game: With the addition of the 15-second faceoff rule, the Committee hopes to eliminate downtime between whistles.
  • Checking in women’s hockey: This rule was discussed at length at revised for clarity.

Noted was the fact that all of these rules and points of emphasis still need further definition and the actual wording of the rules will be announced and distributed at a later time.