College hockey opts not to adopt controversial rule change

Thumbnail image for ncaa-logo.jpgA while back we mentioned how the NCAA rules committee was looking into instituting a new rule where teams would not be allowed to ice the puck when on the penalty kill. The NCAA, instead, wanted to penalize teams killing penalties further by calling icing on those teams thus leading to a face-off back in their own end as well as not allowing that team to change lines. Sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it? Many fans, media, and coaches around the college hockey world thought so too.

“This rule has never been implemented in any North American leagues … and it’s only been experimented with at a few youth USA Hockey select festivals, and so I don’t think it’s been thoroughly researched,” said Frank Serratore, head coach of Air Force.

Fortunately for college hockey fans and coaches alike, the NCAA rules committee is backing off of their proposal and will instead follow their normal procedure for trying out anything drastically new.

The controversial rule proposal that would call icing even when a team is shorthanded, has been pulled, according to the NCAA.

However, the rule will be experimented with during exhibition games.

The rule proposal, part of a complete package put forth by the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee, was met with fierce opposition when it was announced, leading to the idea being revisited.

All rules have to be formally approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel.

Sanity prevails in the NCAA for once, and at least for a little while anyhow. Exhibition games played at the NCAA level should be interesting affairs at the very least. Team USA’s World Junior Championship team generally plays a handful of exhibition games against NCAA teams each year and checking out what should be a relatively stacked USA team playing warm-up games for the World Junior Championships in late December in Buffalo might prove to be interesting. Having them lineup with older college teams and testing out how a seemingly crappy rule is implemented with better-than-normal talent could turn the games into long, drawn out and frustrating affairs.

If you do happen to catch any NCAA exhibition games, bring a hard hat. The NCAA doesn’t have a penalty for delay of game if the puck goes over the glass. Guess where that puck is going if teams can’t ice it. Souvenirs for everyone!

Here’s hoping 3-on-3 doesn’t degenerate into a boring ‘game of keep-away’

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Are coaches going to ruin 3-on-3 overtime?

It’s been the one, big worry since the NHL decided to change from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 as a way to reduce the number of shootouts.

Via TSN’s Bob McKenzie, here’s a quote from an anonymous coach (talking about 3-on-3 strategy) that won’t exactly quell that worry:

“Really, it’s a game of keep-away, that’s what it is and the longer you can keep it away from the other team, the more likely they’ll break down. So I say let’s slow it down and hold onto that puck for as long as we can.”

Now take that a step further and imagine there’s a team that’s really good at shootouts. If you were coaching that team, might you tell your players to rag the puck for as long as possible to try and get to the skills competition?

Granted, five minutes is a long time to rag the puck. Not sure any team could play “keep-away” that long. Plus, there will always be teams that aren’t very good at the shootout; theoretically, those teams should be more willing to take their chances in 3-on-3.

But just remember that more time and space doesn’t always lead to more goals. Look at international hockey, which is played on a bigger ice surface. Canada won gold in Sochi by beating Latvia, 2-1, the United States, 1-0, and Sweden, 3-0. It was hardly firewagon hockey.

While nobody’s quite ready to suggest that 3-on-3 will actually lead to more shootouts, it will be interesting to see how things evolve, and if there are any unintended consequences.

“I don’t know if anyone’s figured it out completely yet,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said Saturday after losing in 3-on-3 overtime to Vancouver.

“The big thing is, you want to control the puck as much as you can. It’s 3-on-3, so there’s lots of room and space out there. You don’t need to give it away. I think it’s smart to just wait, take your time, and wait for a good opportunity.”

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.