NCAA ice hockey rules committee proposes 3-on-3 overtime, shootout for conference games, in-season tournaments

The NCAA men’s and women’s ice hockey rules committee has proposed moving directly to a five-minute, 3-on-3 sudden-death overtime period to decide a winner in games tied after 60 minutes.

If neither team scores, a three-person shootout could be used in conference games or for in-season tournaments to decide which team advances.

In regular-season non-conference games, the result of the game would be a tie if neither team scores in the overtime period.

The rules committee met virtually for four days this week.

The current rules call for a five-minute, 5-on-5 overtime period with conferences given the option to follow that with an additional 3-on-3 overtime and shootout. Four of the six men’s D-I conferences – Atlantic Hockey, Big Ten, NCHC, and WCHA – as well as the women’s WCHA had already adopted that format.

Support by individual coaches in Hockey East and ECAC Hockey for those leagues to adopt a 3-on-3 has been more vocal over the past season.

“Our committee’s job is to do what we believe is best for the game,” said Hilary Witt, women’s ice hockey coach at New Hampshire and interim rules committee chair. “As the game continues to evolve at all levels, we feel it is important for college hockey to evolve with it.”

Rule change proposals must be approved by the NCAA playing rules oversight panel, which is scheduled to discuss the ice hockey committee’s proposals on July 22.

What is not included in the proposal is how the rule change would affect the formulas to determine postseason seeds at each level of NCAA ice hockey – popularized by as the PairWise Rankings. That decision would be made by the championships committees for men’s D-I and D-III and women’s national collegiate and D-III.

The men’s D-I ice hockey championships committee has been meeting this week and will continue conferencing next week.

Additional proposals

The committee also recommended that teams be allowed to choose from which faceoff circle the puck would be dropped at the start of a power play or after icing.

“This allows teams to potentially create more offensive opportunities,” said NCAA men’s and women’s ice hockey secretary-rules editor Steve Piotrowski. “If we can implement rules to create more scoring opportunities, that’s a good thing.”

To speed up the pace of the game, the committee also proposed that officials be allowed to issue a warning on faceoff violations, instead of ejecting the center from the draw. As is the current rule, a second violation would result in a two-minute bench-minor penalty for delay of game.

In the aftermath of COVID-19, the committee voted to remove the current rule that required teams to shake hands after a game. Conferences and schools will determine their postgame protocols, rather than having a national rule.