Hockey East Look To Change Refs, OT System

Hockey East is considering two major playing changes, according to published reports.

The league coaches voted 5-2, with two abstentions, in favor of a four-referee system, with two referees and two linesmen. Currently, all leagues use a system with one referee and two assistant referees.

The coaches also voted 4-3, with two abstentions, in favor of a 4-on-4 overtime period, similar to what the NHL uses. In the NHL, teams receive two points for a win, one for a tie, and one for an overtime loss. It remains to be seen whether Hockey East would adopt that format, or a winner takes all approach.

The changes would not take effect until the 2004-05 season. In that time, Maine coach Tim Whitehead said he would recommend the changes to the entire NCAA.

“The two referee-two linesmen system would give us better ice coverage and it would also allow us to add some young referees to the old boy network,” said Whitehead to the Bangor Daily News. “Everyone talks about getting some new, young referees in the game but they need opportunities. You could pair a new referee with a veteran so he could learn from him. Each referee would be responsible for half the ice [instead of the whole sheet]. The same for the linesmen.”

Whitehead said the two votes against the new system, actually voted for a 1-1-1 system, with one referee, one assistant referee and one linesman.

“We felt one referee can’t cover the entire ice sheet and the two assistant referees were being distracted by their multiple responsibilities so they were missing some icing and offsides calls,” said Whitehead.

Hockey East was the only conference to experiment with a shootout during the ’90s.

Athletic directors still have to approve the changes.