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Unknotting NCAA ties

Thursday, 01.31.2008 / 9:00 AM / On Campus

By Bob Snow - NHL.com Correspondent

Tom Anastos, CCHA Commissioner, believes that ties should be elminated.
If the recent NCAA Web site survey results about eliminating the number of regular-season tie games bears remote correlation to NHL.com's concurrent informal poll, it's time to end tie games in college hockey.

Currently, games ending in a tie are followed with a 5-minute overtime with teams playing 5-on-5; if a team wins in OT, the winner gets two points in the standings while the loser gets no points. A tie after OT gives each team one point.

Thus far in 2007-08, a paltry 27.6 percent of regular-season games were decided in OT. Last season, it was 37.6 percent -- all according to NCAA data.

Three of the six NCAA league commissioners weighed in with their personal opinions as they await the NCAA rules committee meeting in June.

"Absolutely," CCHA Commissioner Tom Anastos said. "Ties need to go. Competition is all about winning; so I think every game should determine a winner, and more importantly, fans want to see a winner determined. I would recommend that a new system be implemented for the 2008-09 season."

Like his colleagues, ECACHL Commissioner Steve Hagwell has not formally discussed the topic in his league.

"I am a proponent of exploring formats (e.g., four on four) that may reduce ties; however, I am not a proponent of determining the outcome of games via shootouts," Hagwell said. "I do not like the aspect of taking 60-plus minutes of team effort and reducing it to which team has the better one-on-one player(s)."

Both Anastos and Hagwell, along with Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna, favor consideration for at least a 4-on-4 OT.

"I would like to see the Rules Committee go slowly on this matter," Bertagna said. "Specifically, perhaps a longer overtime before they seriously consider shootouts. Unlike the NHL, we only play 34 games. There can be good ties and bad ties. An underdog who earns a tie after 60 minutes and a brief overtime should get to enjoy that accomplishment, without seeing it potentially diminished by a shootout."

"I think it's time; you play so (few) games," said the Boston Bruin Mark Stuart, who played at Colorado College. "You might have five ties in a season."

"You don't play for a tie," said teammate Phil Kessel a former Gopher at Minnesota.

"It's a good thing at the end of the game that there's a winner and a loser," said Carolina's Mike Commodore. "When I was at North Dakota, there was never a game that we didn't play to win."

Bob Snow
Bob Snow, a longtime correspondent for NHL.com, covers college hockey.

"I'm all for it," said 'Canes teammate Jeff Hamilton, a former Bulldog at Yale. "There's nothing worse than driving up to Clarkson (upstate New York) and having a 3-3 tie for the night. Absolutely, I'd rather take the loss than a tie. If you ask the fans, I'm sure they'd want the same thing."

Indeed they do.

New Hampshire Wildcats season-ticket holder Fritz Green said; "I'd love to see the end of ties. A tie is like kissing your sister."

"I'd like to see them get rid of ties," said UNH fan Steve Boisvert.

"There's too many ties by the end of the year," added UMass follower Dan Hood, reinforcing that aforementioned 27.6 percent fact.

"It's a great question," said the Montreal CanadiensBryan Smolinski of Michigan State. "College can always use more goal scoring. (NCCA goal-scoring has been dropping steadily since the 2002 average of 6.28 per game to this season's 5.47 thus far.) And is a tie a false statement about the sport? A lower-ranked team will play for a tie sometimes against a higher-rank team. Some teams only play 35 games a season. But somebody should have to show their skill."

"I can tell you that the points are very valuable (here)," said Carolina coach Peter Laviolette, who won a Stanley Cup and played Division III at Westfield State in Massachusetts. "Last year that truly cost us a playoff spot. Tampa Bay went 10-1 and we went 1-5 in shootouts."

Not much impact in the college ranks, however, around final points and playoff implications.

Only two of the 59 NCAA teams -- No. 9 and No. 10 in Hockey East final standings -- do not qualify for league postseason play. That translates into 57 teams having a shot at being one of the final 16 teams to compete in the four regionals; the winner of each regional goes to the Frozen Four.

Hockey East Commissioner, Joe Bertagna, would like to see a longer overtime before shootouts are considered.

"(Then) I don't know the reasoning in college hockey (for keeping ties)," said Laviolette. "But I am in favor of a winner. There is not a time here when a shootout is coming and fans say; 'Let's get a jump on traffic and leave.' It never happens. I don't know if colleges need to sell that part of the sport, but we're in all of sports to win."

NHL players such as Boston's Kessel, Chuck Kobasew (Boston College), and Montreal's Mike Komisarek (Michigan) support shootouts. For Bruins goalie Tim Thomas (Vermont) and Commodore, however, shootouts are a last resort.

"Problem with the shootout," said Commodore, "is that it's a great way to win, but a bad way to lose."

"I don't know about going to a shootout," said Thomas.

Only Montreal's Chris Higgins and one fan were status-quo votes to keep ties.

"I don't think it matters," said Higgins, who played at Yale. "I don't think they should change it. You don't need shootouts in college hockey. If anything, make a longer overtime period."

Where is the middle ground?

"Battle it out in more overtime and see what happens, " said Hamilton.

"Make sure you still get the point with a loss," said Kessel.

How about the following format for the NCAA hierarchy to consider:

1. One 10-minute sudden-death OT

2. First five minutes, teams play 4-on-4

3. Last five minutes, teams play 3-on-3

4. Penalties assessed require a team to skate at least two players in addition to the goaltender.

5. No penalty shots in OT

6. Winning team gets two points; losing team gets one point

7. Each team gets the current one point if the game ends in a tie after OT

8. No shootouts

On Campus Clips -- Quinnipiac's longest unbeaten streak in the country ended at 10 last Friday night with a loss to Niagara. ... Union College set a program record the same night with its seventh straight win. ... Bruins draftee Kevin Regan set a UNH record in goal, also last Friday, with his 59th win, a 4-2 victory over BU, eclipsing Mike Ayers’ 58 wins from 2000-04; Ty Conklin moves to third with 57; Regan then won his 60th game Saturday in a BU rematch. ... With six weeks left in the regular season, the Hobey Baker race is heating up. Most pundits currently have forwards Kevin Porter (Michigan), Ryan Jones (Miami), Nathan Gerbe (BC), and goaltender Peter Mannino (Denver) among the lead contenders for top D-1 player for 2007-08. ... The 56th Beanpot Tournament, college hockey's premier in-season tournament, begins Monday with Harvard-Northeastern in the first game, BU-BC in the second. The winners play Feb. 11 for one of Boston's most coveted trophies.

NHL.com Top 10

  1. Miami  (25-3-0)
  2. Michigan  (22-3-1)
  3. Michigan State  (17-5-5)
  4. Denver  (18-6-0)
  5. North Dakota  (16-8-1)
  6. New Hampshire  (15-7-1)
  7. Colorado College  (18-7-1)
  8. Boston College  (12-5-7)
  9. Notre Dame  ((20-9-1)
  10. Clarkson  (15-7-2)






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