Might We Propose? Potential Rules-to-Be

The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee submitted 22 proposed amendments to the rule book, to take effect at the commencement of the 2010-11 season and to become eligible for review following the 2011-12 campaign. The panel also recommended three experimental rules – which would only be enforced in non-NCAA contests – and noted two “future considerations”, to be revisited at a future date. Here are those items, courtesy of Rules Committee Chairman Forrest Karr and the NCAA:


Rule: Stopping play when video review is imminent

Explanation: In games with video review, when a close play occurs at the goal and the referee is certain he/she will review the situation, play shall be stopped when no advantage is gained, similar to a stoppage for an injured player.

Rationale: Currently, there is no rules support to stop play in these situations. Allowing some referee discretion would save potential issues with the opposing team scoring a goal, penalties assessed, etc.

Rule: Half Shield allowance (men’s play only)

Explanation: To work with the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport to research and study the use of half shield facial protection and the potential impact on NCAA competition.

Rationale: The committee believes that the technology of the half shield facial protection has improved in recent years and plans to work collaboratively with the men’s college hockey community and the sports medical and athletic training community to determine if this type of protection is appropriate for NCAA competition. Many other similar age levels (Olympic competition, juniors, etc.) allow the use of the improved half shield protection.

Rule: Delayed penalty enforcement

Explanation: If the non-offending team scores during the delayed penalty, the penalty would still be enforced and that team would receive a power play.

Rationale: Would provide the non-offending team an extra opportunity to create some scoring chances.

Rule: Contact to the Head

Explanation: Alter the language to read: “A player shall not target and make contact with an opposing player’s head or neck area in any manner or force the head of an opposing player into the protective glass, boards or goal cage.”

PENALTY—Major and a game misconduct or disqualification at the discretion of the referee.”

Rationale: This is an important safety issue and the committee is concerned about some violent contact that has occurred in the game and caused injury. To make this rule more clear, any time a player targets the head or neck area of an opponent, it must be a major penalty and a game misconduct penalty at a minimum. This rule is not intended to cover incidental contact or contact with the head that occurs that should be a minor penalty (e.g., unintentional high stick, body check where the contact is initiated at the shoulder or torso, but the follow through makes some contact with the head). Clear direction is being provided here to assist officials, coaches and players with this rule.
The committee expects a heightened awareness to direct contact to head, but it should be noted that many contact to the head fouls in previous seasons that were minor penalties should remain minor penalties (for example, an incidental high sticking foul would remain a minor for high sticking).

Rule: Defensive team shoots puck out of play from defensive zone

Explanation: When a delay of game penalty is not called, the team that shoots the puck directly out of play would not be allowed to change its players.

Rationale: This would provide some penalty for a defending team that shoots the puck out of play directly. If the puck is ruled to be deliberately shot out of play, a delay of game penalty may still be issued.

Rule: Faceoff location – Shot off of goal and out of play

Explanation: When the puck is shot by the offensive team and it hits the goal cage and goes out of play, keep the faceoff in the offensive zone.

Rationale: The offensive team seems to be penalized unfairly for this faceoff location.

Rule: Hand Passes

Explanation: Require that a hand pass must be “deliberately directed to a teammate or create a gained advantage” for this rule to be in effect.

Rationale: Too many hand passes are being called that are not truly hand passes. For example, a defenseman is trying to hold the line at the offensive blue line and the puck deflects off of the player’s glove and goes to a teammate in the neutral zone. This was not deliberately directed and therefore should not be a violation of the hand pass rule. This change will assist officials to properly administer this rule.

Rule: Hybrid Icing

Explanation: New rule that would mirror a system used in some junior leagues where the linesmen judge which player would touch the puck first if an icing is in effect.

Rationale: To add an element of touch-up icing used in professional levels and eliminate some whistles in the game without compromising safety.

Rule: Shorthanded team not allowed to ice the puck

Explanation: Enforce icing at all times of the game.

Rationale: This change would remove a contradiction in the rules that allows a team that has violated the rules in one area to violate another rule in order to compensate for being shorthanded. This would provide more scoring opportunities for the power play team and could encourage more skilled play from the defensive team.

Rule: Obtainable pass

Explanation: Remove this provision in the rules.

Rationale: This rule has created more difficulty for linesmen to judge icing calls and some teams have used this rule to their advantage without making a skilled play.

Rule: Overtime

Explanation: To have goalkeepers change ends of the ice before the overtime period begins.

Rationale: This rule would make line changes more difficult for both teams and will lead to scoring opportunities and a reduction in the number of tie games.

Rule: Overtime

Explanation: To have goalkeepers change ends of the ice before each overtime period when games are played to a winner (20 minute, sudden death periods).

Rationale: This rule would continue the progression that is natural to the game. The overtime periods are intended to be an extension of the game; teams change ends during regular play and this would be consistent.

Rule: Awarding goals

Explanation: To allow a goal to be awarded during a breakaway situation with an empty net if the player is fouled.

Rationale: This has occurred in a handful of games and a goal was awarded as “obvious and imminent.” The committee believes this was the right call, but rules support was not clear.

Rule: Use of timeout to change players

Explanation: If a team ices the puck or creates a stoppage that does not allow a change of players and then calls timeout, it would be allowed to change its players. Only the team that calls the timeout would be allowed to change its players in situations where players are not allowed to change.

Rationale: If a team chooses to use its timeout to change players, it should be allowed to do so.

Rule: Penalty enforcement

Explanation: Make most penalties consistent with respect to what the officials’ options are (e.g., minor, major, game misconduct, game disqualification).

Rationale: There are some situations where officials have intended to enforce one penalty, but the option wasn’t there. For example, excessive roughness carries a disqualification only. Some other penalties stop at game misconducts.

Rule: Holding Teams at end of periods

Explanation: At the end of the period, the home team must wait to be released from the bench by the referee, unless the exit to the lockerroom is in the bench area. Players are not to enter the ice if the exit to the lockerroom is through the bench. The penalty for this rule would be a warning and then a bench minor.

Rationale: This would help avoid the crossing of teams and help officials to better administer the game.

Rule: Players refusing to play the puck

Explanation: When there is a stalemate, the officials shall stop play and administer the rule that caused the stoppage.

Rationale: This would allow officials to shut down a play in a stalemate before frustrations create a hostile situation. For example, during an offensive team’s power play, an offensive player high-sticks the puck to a teammate in the offensive zone. The player does not want to touch the puck which would cause the faceoff to be in the defensive zone. The defending player is content to allow as much time to tick off the clock as possible, to kill more of the penalty time.

Rule: Commercial Logos

Explanation: Allow messaging behind the goal and consider allowing commercial logos in the attacking zone, outside the circles?

Rationale: Many institutions and conferences have placed a logo behind the goal even though technically illegal.
Some institutions have requested the ability to put advertising or team logos in the attacking zone near the blue line.

Rule: Net specifications

Explanation: To align the recommended specifications of the netting with the NHL’s.

Rationale: To assist institutions and facilities when purchasing nets appropriate for the college level.

Rule: Jerseys

Explanation: Clarify that the number shall contrast the overall jersey color. This rule is recommended immediately, but will be mandated starting with the 2012-13 season.

Rationale: In some cases, there are teams that use white numbers that are outlined in the darker color, which are difficult to see.

Rule: Disqualifications in the last game of season

Explanation: Clarify that these disqualifications carry over to the following season if a player has eligibility remaining. Any carry-over disqualification are not part of the progression procedure.

Rationale: In the rare case that this happens, it is important to have this in writing so there is no confusion.

Rule: Goalkeeper prevented from playing position

Explanation: To officially legislate the approved ruling that has been used the past two seasons in these situations. The penalty should specify that a goal is disallowed in these situations; currently it notes the faceoff location.

Rationale: Clarity. This rule has been enforced properly, but it eliminates any issues.

Experimental Rules

(Note: all following text is inferred from notes only; it is not part of the official committee submission and therefore has no explicit explanation or rationale.)

Rule: Hand passes legal in all zones

Explanation: Deliberate hand-passes will be permitted in all zones, at all times.

Rule: Delayed penalty situation – puck must be possessed by offending team outside the defending zone

Explanation: The offending team must possess the puck beyond its own blue line in order to draw the whistle for its penalty.

Rule: Four-on four overtime

Explanation: Teams will play four-on-four in overtime, the same as the NHL.

Future Considerations

  • High-sticking the puck shall be allowed when it does not put any other player at risk (e.g. in open ice, or when alone in front of the net)
  • Teams and/or players will serve the full two minutes for minor penalties, regardless of power-play goals against. (Writer’s note: sound familiar?)


    • Sad to agree as I saw Lowell get smoked by a Michigan team that is good not great. No dominant team and the bottom four stink.

  1. Regarding Notre Dame it’s shocking the disconnect between the supposed level of talent on this team and the performance on the ice.

    More drafted players than any other HE team (and more than all but two NCAA teams) and they can’t put together a single period of decent hockey most nights. Take away the 7 games against Lake State, Niagara and UMass and the record is just 3-10-2. Toss in the supposed benefits of playing in a state of the art facility full of all sorts of hockey-specific training bells and whistles and the picture looks even more confusing.

    Youth or inexperience can be blamed for some of the troubles in the play early on, but not after 3 months of games and practices. It also loses some potential for blame when you see how another equally young team in BU is playing. Yes they have a dynamic, likely Hobey Hat Trick finalist freshman skating every night, but one player alone is not responsible for all of the turnaround that team is seeing from last year.

    A change behind the bench is sorely needed. Whether or not that is a complete housecleaning or just getting an associate head coach who can turn around this program is the question. At 6.1% the Notre Dame power play is the worst in the NCAA, not just this year, but the worst in at least a decade among ALL NCAA teams. Those players, in that facility being that bad screams for major changes.

  2. While UConn is good, and likely getting better, beating the same team 3 times in a little over a month’s time is a tall task for any team. Statistics say that the Huskies were due vs UML. I’m hoping it’s a reality check for the River Hawks entering the most critical part of their schedule.

  3. UCONN is good enough to steal a playoff series. Rob Nichols is a great goaltender and he could do just enough to steal a couple games for them in a playoff series. I would not want to play UCONN in an opening round series.

    • If the season ended today, they’d get Notre Dame in the first round. Pretty good draw for UConn, I’d say. Though, it could be looked at as the Battle of who shows up. You never know what you’re going to get with either team on a given night.


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