Overtime could have a different look this season.
The NCAA hockey rules committee recently recommended all regular-season games tied after regulation go to 4-on-4 overtime for five minutes in an effort to break the tie.
The committee also approved an experimental rule that if the game is still tied after the 4-on-4, teams would skate 3-on-3 for five minutes. And if the game is still tied after the 3 on 3, a shootout would be used to break the tie.
The proposed 4-on-4 rule will be voted on by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel July 20. Individual leagues will decide if they will use the experimental rule.
Any change in the overtime format would not effect postseason games, whether they’re in the league playoffs or the NCAA playoffs.
“In our review of the game, it is clear goal scoring is continuing to trend down,” said Michigan State coach Tom Anastos, who chairs the hockey rules committee. “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,” Anastos added. “We feel the changes we have adopted meet those objectives and will enhance our brand of hockey.”
Seventy-one of the 140 Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s league games last season ended in a tie or were decided by one goal, including 23 ties. Thirty-five of the league games were decided in overtime.
“I would like to see ties broken,” Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said. “I believe our game should mirror the NHL game, and we’re two steps from that. The first step is for our league to break ties within league games.”
Bergeron said the WCHA is considering using the 3-on-3 overtime and the shootout, but no decision has been made. The National Collegiate Hockey Conference was the only league to use the 3-on-3 overtime and the shootout last season, although the Big Ten Conference used the shootout after a 4-on-4 overtime.
If the Big Ten wishes to keep its shootout this season, it will have to go with the 3-on-3 overtime.
“I’m going to be a team player when it comes to that, but our games are getting longer, and our fans are leaving with the game in a tie,” Bergeron said. “I don’t know if that’s the best thing for the fan experience.
“You feel way worse as a coach after a loss than a tie, but I also feel the sport on television, that everyone watches, the pro game, they find a way to break the tie, and we should be doing the same thing.”
The NHL’s 3-on-3 overtime has been wildly popular. The 3-on-3 overtime broke 61 percent of the league’s ties last season, and 45 percent of the ties during the 2014-15 season, If NHL games are tied after the 3-on-3, the games are decided by a shootout.
“I would like to see our game mirror the NHL, and right now they have the 3-on-3 overtime, and it seems like the 3-on-3 is breaking most of those ties, and then a shootout,” Bergeron said. “If that’s what they’re doing, we should be doing the same thing.”
The Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald reported the NCAA rules committee also recommended a change in the weighting system of the Ratings Percentage Index. The RPI is a key component of the Pairwise Rankings, which are used to select the field for the NCAA playoffs.
An overtime win will no longer count as much as a regulation win in the RPI and an overtime loss will not hurt us much as a regulation loss, the Herald reported.
The specific weighting hasn’t been determined by the NCAA Championship Committee, but the Herald reported the most likely numbers are 75-25 (an overtime win would count 75 percent of a regulation win and a loss would count as 25 percent).
The Herald also reported the NCAA coaches overwhelmingly voted in April to keep the mandatory five-minute overtime in a 5-on-5 format, but the rules committee still recommended to change it.
MASON REMEMBERED: Although Bergeron didn’t know former Falcon coach Ron Mason well, he still had fond memories of the second-winningest coach in NCAA history. Mason, who died earlier this month, led the Falcon program to national prominence in the 1970s. His 36-year career also had stints as the head coach at Lake Superior and Michigan State.
“It’s hard to wrap your arms around the impact and the influence he had on this sport and the fact he worked here and sat on this campus at Bowling Green,” Bergeron said. “It’s a sad time.”
In addition to his 924 career victories, Mason developed numerous NHL players. His former players also became coaches, including former BG assistants Tom Newton, Danton Cole and Shawn Walsh. Two of his former Falcons became NHL general managers — George McPhee and Brian MacLellan.
“It’s hard to fathom the number of coaches he’s had an impact on, and the impact he’s had on all of those leaders in our profession,” Bergeron said.
“Since I’ve been at Bowling Green, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to alums who played for him, and we’re trying to leave the program better than we found it. That sounds like what Ron did, and what the players who played for him did. They took this program to a whole new level.”
RULES II: The NCAA hockey rules committee also recommended a coach’s challenge be implemented for video to be used to review goals that might be offsides. The challenge would not be used in the last two minutes of the game and overtime when the officials will review offsides.
The replays at the NCAA level might not be as good as those in the NHL since the college games don’t have all of the technology used on the NHL broadcasts.
“I don’t want taking our games a whole lot longer because of the replays because our games are creeping up on three hours, but we need to get the calls right,” Bergeron said.
SUMMER WORKOUTS: Bergeron said 99 percent of the Falcons are home for the summer, adding strength coach Kenneth Goodrich is staying in touch with the players to make sure they are following their workout plans.
“Our guys know if they don’t do the job in the summer, the team is going to pass them by,” Bergeron said. “What they’re doing with their opportunity this summer is on them. We have no reason to believe they’re not taking advantage of the summer.”