This is a “rule change” year for NCAA hockey. Every two years, changes are discussed and the goal is to improve the game and standardize the way the game is played throughout all leagues.
A hot topic is the issue of moving to three quarter face shields rather than playing with a full cage.
Coaches have long believed that full shields and cages restrict peripheral vision and cause players to play more recklessly, and increase the amount of dangerous injuries.
The United States Hockey League has gone to a three-quarters shield, and data from that league is being used to assist in the decision making process.
The issue of full cages has been a heated topic since they were mandated starting in 1980. Moving away from them has the near-universal support of coaches, but has always been resisted by the NCAA due to safety concerns. The concern is that eliminating full cages will lead to an increase in facial injuries, particularly the teeth.
The issue was addressed by the Rules Committee, two years ago. The Committee was prepared to make a recommendation that three-quarter shields be mandated instead of full ones, but decided at that time to table the discussion until more data on player safety could be compiled. The Committee now hopes that the USHL data will help convince higher-level NCAA committee people.
Also on the agenda was whether to change overtimes mandating 4-on-4s, like the NHL, and-or mandate shootouts. Currently the NCHC and Big Ten have shootouts to decide overtimes, but they don’t count towards a team’s overall record for NCAA tournament selection purposes.