By Jackson Taylor
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) has announced several new playing rules and policy changes for the 2015-16 season. The changes were passed by the NCHC’s Board of Directors during the offseason.
The NCHC will be the first college hockey conference to use a 3-on-3 overtime to decide the the extra standings point after the game ends in a tie. The rule will only be in effect during conference games. According to NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton, the the decision was made to bring more excitement and fairness to overtime.
As is standard in all NCAA hockey conferences, conference games that are tied after regulation will play 5-on-5 plus goalies for five minutes in overtime with three conference standings points up for grabs. The winner of this overtime period receives three points in conference standings and the loser receives none. If the teams remain tied after the 5 minute overtime period, each team receives one point and it is officially ruled a tie. Then the teams will engage in a 3-on-3 plus goalies 5 minute overtime to compete for the third point. The result of this 3-on-3 overtime will not have an affect on the PairWise rankings as the game is still considered a tie. Statistics collected in the 3-on-3 overtime will not count in the conference or national statistics
If no goals are scored in the 3-on-3 overtime period, the game will go to a sudden death shootout for the extra point. This is different than last season’s 3-man shootout format. Each team will send out one shooter and if one shooter scores and the other doesn’t, that team wins the shootout, gaining the extra point. If both shooters score or if neither score, another round of shootouts ensues until a winner is determined.
NCHC Overtime Broken Down
Regulation ends in a tie.
5-on-5 (plus goalies) 5-minute overtime period.
If still tied, 3-on-3 (plus goalies) 5-minute overtime period.
If still tied, sudden death shootout. Each team sends out a shooter for one shot.
Another big change that the NCHC has made is that starting in October, all NCHC members will use NHL-sized nets during home games. An NHL net is 40 inches deep at its base and 18 inches deep on top of the goal. A typical NCAA net is 44 inches deep at the base and 20 inches deep on top. The smaller depth inside the goal will presumably allow more scoring chances as players will have more room to maneuver around the net.
A series of smaller changes that will not directly affect the game were also made. One of these changes is that the home team will now wear their colored or dark-colored jerseys and visitors will wear white or light-colored jerseys during the first half of the season, opposite of last year. The NCHC also made a policy change that increases travel roster size for regular season conference games. This year, teams can travel 23 players to road games, as opposed to last year’s limit of 22. As per usual, there is not a limit for non-conference games.
The NCHC also announced there will be a post-graduate scholarship given to one graduating NCHC student-athlete who plans to go to graduate school. The student-athlete will be selected by NCHC schools’ Faculty Athletics Representatives.
Another off-the-ice policy change is a new player-safety measure that requires all NCHC institutions to comply with NCAA concussion protocol review processes.
As a member of the NCHC, Omaha hockey will experience the new rules beginning in their season-opening series at Minnesota State on Oct. 9-10.