By Ty Halpin
The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee reviewed its current rules and provided additional guidance on its stringent rules regarding dangerous contact at its annual meeting June 8-10. As part of the NCAA’s two-year cycle for playing rules changes, the 2011-12 season will not see any new rules.
The committee did approve several items of guidance for officials to build on the successful implementation of its rules for contact to the head.
“Progress was certainly made this season,” said Ed McLaughlin, athletics director at Niagara University and chair of the committee. “We are adding some additional guidance to support what is already in our rules in the hope that players, coaches and officials can better understand expectations with this rule.”
In some cases, officials were hesitant to enforce the contact to the head because they were unsure if a player had clearly “targeted” an opponent. The committee reinforced that targeting is not a prerequisite for this rule to be used.
Added to the examples of the type of play the committee hopes to remove are players who are reckless, players who are about to receive a pass and direct contact to the head or neck area from any direction. This additional guidance joins several other bullet points already printed in the rules book.
The committee also points the hockey community to language that already appears in the rules book: “A player delivering a check to an unsuspecting and vulnerable player puts themselves in jeopardy of being penalized under this rule.”
“We believe our rule is the most robust and aggressive in ice hockey,” McLaughlin said. “What we saw this year was a good start. We’re trying to take any doubt out of this call and help officials who have only one game-speed view of a play to determine how to officiate this play. We realize this is a big penalty and a serious one, but this approach has worked with hitting from behind and we believe it will work here to adjust player behavior.”
In addition to the contact to the head and general emphasis on player safety, the committee received feedback from the coaching community that embellishment/diving seems to be a growing issue. The committee voted to make this a point of emphasis for the upcoming season and plans to include several video examples during preseason clinics.
“Diving and embellishment erode the integrity of our game and must be eliminated,” McLaughlin said. “Trying to deceive officials is unethical and unsporting. This has to be a collaborative effort to make progress.”
The committee decided to provide guidance regarding obstruction along the boards, where the defensive tactic of pressing and releasing an opponent should be allowed, but impeding is not. Again, additional video examples will be used to encourage consistent application of these rules.
Finally, the group points attention again to rules that deal with facewashing, which typically occurs after a stoppage in play. Continued and stringent enforcement of these rules is needed to improve the image of the game.
In other committee action, it was noted that exhibition games currently limit the number of student-athletes that may dress. After some clarification of the committee’s responsibility here, it has been proposed to remove the restriction on the number of players that may dress for exhibition games, pending approval from the Playing Rules Oversight Panel on a July conference call.
Several items of consideration for the next rules cycle were discussed and will be shared directly with the membership. They are: