NCAA committee recommends new overtime rules for 2016-17 season

The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee has recommended four-on-four overtime for the 2016-17 season.

During its annual meeting on June 7-9 in Indianapolis, Ind., the committee recommended that all NCAA regular season games that are tied after regulation go to four-on-four action for five minutes. If the game is still tied, the committee has also approved an experimental rule where teams would play three-on-three for five minutes, and then use a sudden-death shootout to determine a winner.

Conferences can decide on whether they wish to implement the three-on-three overtime and shootout.

The proposal, which must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on July 20, will not affect postseason tournament games — conference or the national tournament.

“In our review of the game, it is clear that goal scoring is continuing to trend down,” said committee chair and Michigan State coach Tom Anastos in a statement. “After a thorough discussion of the overtime process, and seeing the success experienced by the National Hockey League and others using four-on-four, we believe this change will be a positive step for NCAA hockey. Our committee is charged with finding a balance in making changes that we believe will have a positive impact on the game, yet respect the traditions of the sport. We feel the changes we have adopted meet those objectives and will enhance our brand of hockey.”

Other notable recommendations:

• The committee proposed moving the hash marks on the faceoff circles in the offensive and defensive zones from the current four feet to five feet, seven inches, so there is more separation between players. That would be a preferred distance, which allows for flexibility in compliance by teams. NCAA championship competition will have the wider hash marks, however.

• For officials and players, it is now mandatory to wear helmets any time they are on the ice, with the exception of the playing of the national anthem.

• A coach’s challenge will be required for video replay to be used to review goals relating to off sides, except for the last two minutes of the game and overtime. Officials will review off sides during the last two minutes and the extra time. In postseason tournaments, all aspecdts of video replay will be utilized by referees, including off sides, without the need of a coach’s challenge.