INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee has issued a statement which says, in part, that:
“Effective immediately, all NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament games which are tied at the conclusion of a five-minute sudden death overtime period will be decided by a shootout. This rule change will affect the remaining three games of the 2009 tournament.”
Attempts to reach Ty Halpin, NCAA Associate Director for Playing Rules Administration, were unsuccessful.
It is believed that this decision comes in the wake of last weekend’s programming debacle on ESPN2, when a men’s lacrosse match between Virginia and Maryland went into seven overtimes, causing many college hockey fans to miss the first period of the Northeast Regional semifinal between New Hampshire and North Dakota. There seems to be a clear desire from the ESPN family of networks to complete the remaining tournament games in the 2 hour and 30 minute time frame allotted.
Three of the previous twelve 2009 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament games have gone into overtime, although the aforementioned UNH/UND game would not have been affected by this rule change. The Wildcats scored the game-winner 45 seconds into the first overtime period.
Elsewhere in the tournament, Minnesota-Duluth defeated Princeton on a power play goal more than 13 minutes into overtime, and Vermont toppled Air Force after more than 34 minutes of overtime to advance to the Frozen Four (Washington, DC). Both of those games would have gone to a shootout under this rule change.
The specifics of the shootout rules for the Frozen Four will be announced at a press conference scheduled for 4:01 p.m. EST on ESPNEWS.