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NCAA mulls change from five-on-five overtime

by Bob Snow /
In a two-part series, looks at two possible rules for change in the NCAA Division I men's program.

One appears a no-brainer; the other relates to -- and invokes -- deeper feedback about a "cerebral" topic.

This week, Part I looks at a possible reduction the number of players in the five-minute overtime.

Next week, Part II looks at the possibility of changing from the current full head gear to the half shield.

The 12-member NCAA Rules Committee and the college hockey community designated both as "Future Considerations." The committee will consider adopting either or both starting with the 2012-13 season.

"The Rules Committee takes input from the NCAA membership on ideas through the NCAA process," said Rules Committee Chair Ed McLaughlin. "Rules can be listed as 'future consideration' if the rule is not voted up or down and the committee feels it needs more data or input to evaluate the effect that the rule would have on our game.

"We have examined a variety of OT options for reducing ties, and our hope is to get some feedback on the current change before we move forward in 2012."

Some 28 percent of all NCAA games end in a tie after regulation; 65 percent of those games remain tied after the 5-on-5, five-minute overtime used in four leagues.

Only the CCHA ends ties in its league games with a shootout after a deadlocked 5-on-5 OT. 

How does the whole process proceed toward possible adoption(s)?

"We will have discussions and collect data throughout the next two seasons," McLaughlin said. "We will meet as a rules committee in June of 2012 to review all future considerations and vote to make a recommendation to the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel after a comment period."

There's no shortage of comment across NHL rosters of former NCAA players about each possible rule change, beginning this week with the overtime issue. 

"Four-on-four is a good step," said the Bruins' Mark Stuart (Colorado College). "It works for us; a lot of space and a lot of fun. Even 3-on-3 would be exciting and different."

"Not much seems to happen with the 5-on-5; it goes by fast," Blake Wheeler (Minnesota) said, echoing Stuart's comments. "Then a tie's a tie. But [a tie] is not as bad as losing in a shootout."

"There may be an advantage for the team that's used to the bigger rink," said the Hurricanes' Ryan Carter (Minnesota State). "But something needs to be done."

"Definitely a good idea to go to four," said teammate Erik Cole (Clarkson). "Every other level has adapted and no reason why college hockey shouldn't do the same."

"I don't think anyone wants a tie; you want a resolution to the game," said Buffalo's Mike Grier (Boston University).

A trio of Lightning players chimed in quite directly about reducing ties. 

"The fans go to a game and want to see a winner," said Vermont's all-time scoring leader, Martin St. Louis. "It's like a tease with a tie; you leave the rink a little empty. For sure the 5-on-5 needs to go; 4-on-4, then maybe even 3-on-3."

"I'm not for the ties," said Matt Smaby (North Dakota). "You might as well have a winner at the end of the day."

"Keep it the same as the pros," offered Dominic Moore (Harvard) about going to 4-on-4 in OT. "Good to have consistency in the rules. Then call it a tie, because there are so few games."

"Absolutely in college," said the Leafs' Mike Komisarek (Michigan), "reduce the players in overtime. There's more room on the ice and more scoring chances. Works great in the NHL and will work great in college hockey."

"I hated playing college games ending in a tie," said fellow Michigan alum and Canadiens star Michael Cammalleri. "The best example is the Cold War game against Michigan State in 2001. It ends 3-3 in one of the biggest attended games in history."

"It's time to fix that at the college level," said Hal Gill (Providence College), nearby in the Candiens' locker room after a recent practice. "The fans seem to enjoy no ties."

Of the players questioned, only Florida Panther Chris Higgins (Yale) was content with the status quo.

"Ideally it should sort itself out 5-on-5," he said. "But it's too tight a game, I guess. It really didn't bother me with a tie; you battled and no one gave. I don't think it really needs to be changed."

At the other extreme, former Princeton Tiger and current Habs forward Jeff Halpern said: "I'd rather see 3-on-3 or even 2-on-2. I think when you get those types of players out there, the fans would love it."

Next week: Part II and the issue of a possible head gear change.

On Campus Clips: The NCAA and Westwood One announced a multi-year contract extension to keep the men's Frozen Four on national radio. ... Yale had been the only undefeated team in conference play until Saturday's 3-2 loss to Brown; the Bulldogs are atop the ECACHL with a 9-1-0 record. ... In a typical barnburner at the Verizon Center in Manchester on Saturday night, the annual Riverstone Cup game between Dartmouth and UNH for New Hampshire bragging rights went down to the wire. At 4-4, Dartmouth's Doug Jones gave the Big Green its fourth lead of the game late in the third period, and the 5-4 victory over the fourth-ranked Wildcats. Jones was voted the Most Valuable Player in the Battle for the Riverstone. ... The Western Michigan Broncos, who beat and tied visiting Ohio State, are on their longest unbeaten streak (5-0-2) in over a decade. The last time they owned an unbeaten stretch of at least seven games was between Oct. 21 and Nov. 11, 2000, when they won seven straight.
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