The NCHC has implemented several new playing rules and policy changes for the 2015-16 season, including a new overtime and shootout format.
All of the rules and policy changes were passed by the NCHC’s Board of Directors during the offseason.
After being one of just two conferences to use a shootout the last two seasons, the NCHC will be the first college hockey conference to use a 3-on-3 overtime format to decide the extra point in the standings after a conference game ends in a tie.
“I think others around the world of hockey have shown what great excitement 3-on-3 overtime can bring to the game,” NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton said in a news release. “We look forward to bringing this same excitement to NCHC student-athletes and fans during the coming year.”
Any conference game that remains tied after regulation will play the NCAA-mandated 5-on-5 five-minute overtime period and if one team scores, they receive all three points in the conference standings, while the losing team receives none. The game also counts as a win and loss nationally in the PairWise rankings. If no goal is scored, the game is considered a tie with both teams receiving one point in the conference standings and it is also called a tie nationally, also the same as previous seasons.
Beginning in October, if a conference game is still tied after the 5-minute overtime, the two teams will then play a 3-on-3 five-minute overtime period for the extra point in the conference standings, keeping all conference games worth three points. The result of the 3-on-3 overtime will not affect the PairWise rankings as the game is still considered a tie. If a team scores during the 3-on-3 overtime, the winning team will receive the extra point for two points in the standings and the losing team will receive the one point for the tie. The final score of the game will still reflect a tie, however.
If the game is still tied after the five-minute 3-on-3 overtime period, the game will then go to a sudden death shootout for the extra point, rather than the three-man shootout that occurred during the NCHC’s first two seasons. Each team will get one shooter, if one shooter scores and the other doesn’t, that team wins the shootout and extra point in the standings (two points total). If both shooters score or neither scores, the shootout will continue with another round until a winner is determined.
Statistics accumulated during the 3-on-3 overtime period will not count in the conference or national statistics. Only statistics recorded during regulation and 5-on-5 overtime will count for statistical purposes, but the lone exception is a game misconduct or game disqualification penalty issued during the 3-on-3 overtime or shootout, which would be recorded at the five-minute mark of the 5-on-5 overtime.
All other penalties will be enforced during the 3-on-3 overtime, but will not count in conference or national statistics. A penalty called during 3-on-3 overtime will result in a 4-on-3 power play (or 5-on-3 power play if a two-man advantage).
Nonconference games at NCHC member venues will follow the same overtime protocol upon receiving consent from the visiting nonconference opponent.
In addition to the overtime changes, all NCHC member venues will now use NHL-sized nets during all home games, the home team will wear its white or light-colored jerseys and visiting teams will wear colored or dark jerseys during the first half of the season and beginning with conference games only on January 1, 2016, the home team will wear its colored or dark jerseys and the road team will wear its white or light-colored jerseys. This change in jersey colors only applies to regular season conference games and will not apply to non-conference games after January 1 or to any NCHC or NCAA post-season games.
Another policy change for 2015-16 is an increased travel roster size for regular season conference games. NCHC teams are now allowed to travel 23 players on road series, one more than the 22 that was previously allowed for conference road games. There is no travel roster limit for nonconference games.
In addition to changes on the ice, the NCHC also created more opportunities to recognize student-athletes for their work in the classroom. The Board of Directors approved a postgraduate scholarship to be awarded to one graduating NCHC student-athlete each season who plans to continue his studies in graduate school. Each school may nominate up to one student-athlete per year with the winner selected by the schools’ faculty athletics representatives and announced annually at the NCHC awards ceremony.
Lastly, the NCHC approved a player-safety measure as the conference now requires all member institutions to comply with the NCAA Concussion Protocol Review process. All NCHC teams are required to submit their Concussion Safety Protocol Checklist through the NCAA process annually and document to the conference the completion of the review.