In case you missed the announcement, the NCAA is set to deploy an arsenal of new rules sure to increase the watch-ability of our favorite game, and lead to more exciting play that is at the same time safer for the players.
At least that's what they would say to you via press release. What isn't mentioned is that the most significant potential rule change (switching from full protective masks to the half-mask universally preferred half visor), was punted again. Now that I've killed your excitement for exploring the rule changes that WERE approved, let's explore the rule changes that WERE approved.
Expanded video replay options and scenarios:
- Goals may be reviewed to determine if they are scored before a penalty occurred.
- Goals may be reviewed to determine a missed off-sides call or too many men on the ice penalty (the puck must remain in the attacking zone until the goal is scored; if cleared before the goal, the play is not reviewable).
- Video used for replays may come from any source available to the game officials (previously limited to TV broadcast footage).
In reality, these changes are designed to prevent some of the controversial outcomes that occurred last year. Most notable is officials will be able to use non-TV footage when they review a play, including computer footage available from streaming services. This will prevent another Hockey East officiating snafu. It's also a common sense rule.
As for potential effects on our Gophers, expect these rules to lead to even more video reviews to count the number of players on the ice when a goal is scored around the time of a shift change. Expect lots of opposition coaches to complain about the distance of players from the bench and their effects on the play. Also expect lots of weird and unexplainable decisions by the referees. If nothing else, college hockey officials are consistent.
In a truly meaningful change, a player who displays wanton violence can receive a major penalty for interference, as opposed to roughing or anything else previously used by officials at their discretion. The release notes the penalty is intended for significant contact that is not to the head or neck area, particularly for blindside hits. In some circles, these hits were previously known as "clean." In other circles, they still are...
Perhaps "interference" means "interference with the opposing players ability to carry out basic life functions."
How will this affect the Gophers? It will likely serve to protect the Gophers more than be used to punish them. They're not a team historically known for bringing the lumber, with a few individual exceptions. Really, this will allow more players to skate through the neutral zone with their head down or looking backwards.
This is a safety rule, but it's hard for me to say it's good for hockey. Here's a videos so you can decide for yourself.
Get ready for this, there are lots of very large and game changing faceoff rules. As always, my number one concern with these rules, as with all college hockey rules, is the uneven enforcement from weekend to weekend, game to game, and period to period. I think we all remember how often interference was called on offensive zone faceoffs last year, but by the end of the season I had almost forgotten that it was illegal.
- The players taking a faceoff are not allowed to play the puck with their hand; a two minute penalty will be assessed (NHL RULES YEAH!)
- For offensive/defensive zone faceoffs, the defending team's player must place his stick on the ice first (used to be the attacking team's player). For neutral zone faceoffs, the away team's player puts his stick down first. It remains to be seen if the linesmen can properly identify the "attacking zone" and the "neutral zone" and the "away team." Reffing is hard.
- If an attacking player is attempting to score (I think this means shooting) and the puck goes out of play, the faceoff will remain in the attacking zone. To me, this means go for the bar-down shot ALL DAY.
- After a high sticking infraction or hand pass, the faceoff will move one zone closer to the defenders goal, based on where the infraction occurred. I actually like this one!
Most of these are not huge changes. As long as there isn't an official named Shepherd or McInchak on the ice, there shouldn't be any problems.
Penalty Shots and Shootouts
Here are some more game changers, in the most technical sense.
- The referee can award a goal or a do-over on a penalty shot or shootout opportunity if he feels the goaltender dislodged the goal intentionally. I think we can thank Tom Anastos for this one...
- If a player is awarded a penalty shot but is injured and unable to take the shot, the coach can designate any player on the ice to substitute in for the opportunity. I hope to at least one coach chooses his own goalie. Goalie vs. Goalie shootout!
Experimental Women's Rule:
A puck can be played with a high stick without penalty or a stoppage in play. Just to clarify, no half visors; yes to high sticking. Can someone tell me what kind of a world we're living in?
The "Look UP" Line
The NCAA will allow, not require, a "warning track" style line to be painted on the ice to warn the player of (get this) his proximity to the boards. Now, the warning track exists in baseball because the player has to be looking away from the approaching wall in order to track the flight of the ball.
There isn't exactly an analogous situation in hockey. So this is about optics more than anything else.
So that's it, sports fans. We can look forward to seeing these rules in action starting in October. What are your favorites?