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NCAA hockey rules changes discussed at WCHA teleconference

MARQUETTE — Every college hockey season, there are changes to rules. This year isn’t any different as WCHA director of officials Greg Shepherd shared insights into several new rules on the league conference call with the media on Monday afternoon.

Shepherd said that the NCAA Rules Committee met earlier this summer and changed several policies.

The first has to do with number of players in uniform during games, as teams will now be allowed to dress 19 skaters for games, one more than last year. But goaltender rules remain the same — the home team can dress three goaltenders and the road team only two.

Next are stricter policies on slashing penalties, addressing players catching the puck and line changes.

On slashing, Shepherd said any “forceful or powerful chop,” whether it’s on a player’s body, stick or hands, will be whistled.

On catching the puck, previously, players could catch it and throw it and it would result in a whistle and a faceoff. Now a player has to drop it down to himself while he is moving. Shepherd said if a player skates with a held puck for a few feet, it will whistled as a penalty.

The league is also be cracking down on line changes. A player cannot come onto the ice for a change until the player that he exchanging places with is within five feet of the bench.

There was some controversy when the NCAA Rules Committee in June decided that each league would have to conclude games the same way and that ties would continue.

If a game is tied at the end of regulation, it would move into a 5-on-5 overtime and if it couldn’t be decided that way, it would go into the record books as a tie. This was in direct contrast to the policies of the WCHA and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, and it was fought by both conferences.

Eventually, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a proposal that each league could keep their own policy but only for conference games. If it is a nonconference game and goes to overtime, it will simply be a 5-on-5 affair and end after that.

The final items that Shepherd explained involved video replay.

He said if there is a major penalty called, but the officials aren’t positive, they can go to video and see if it is a major penalty and a game misconduct, or just a two-minute minor.

Also, if there is a player down on the ice and nobody saw what happened, the officials can check the video, but they can only assess a major penalty and a game misconduct, not a minor penalty. If there is no major penalty, the game will continue.

In regard to goal replays, if a referee calls a goal on a high stick or off the netting behind the net, he can’t automatically look at the replay.

The replay will only occur if a coach challenges the call. Shepherd also emphasized that this was a rules committee decision and not one made by officials or coaches.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.