Today, before it could be voted on, the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee pulled the proposal for 4v4 overtime in NCAA Hockey from consideration. The committee stated that they seek to “allow for more dialogue, examination, and consideration to occur” on the proposal, which initially was put forth for a vote despite being supported by just 10 of the 60 NCAA head coaches. The rule can still be voted on as soon as next offseason, and it’s clear that today isn’t the end of the push to implement it in college hockey.
For a longer look at what 4v4 overtime would have meant for college hockey, Mike McMahon of College Hockey News posted this article back when the rule was proposed. But for Northeastern, this development is a positive. Coach Madigan confirmed at the Friends of NU Hockey annual meeting in June that he was one of the 50 NCAA coaches who were against the proposal. Ultimately, 4v4 overtime serves only to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. If a more skilled team can’t win in 60 minutes, this would have given them another opportunity by clearing some players off the ice and giving them more chances to skate around their likely slower, more defensive counterparts and come away with the win.
Northeastern are the defending Hockey East Champions, have finished in the top half of the conference each of the past three seasons, and have an extremely skilled returning forward class this coming season. In the short term, such an OT proposal likely would have been a slight advantage for NU against the average opponent. However, they aren’t a historical power or a likely candidate to field an elite offense year in and year out. This was a rule designed to benefit the BC, BU, Michigan, and Minnesota’s of the world, the teams who recruit and sign elite NHL prospects by the handful, and the number of teams who could directly benefit is likely represented by the number of coaches who supported this proposal. For the betterment of college hockey and for upholding the will of the college hockey community, it’s good that NCAA overtime will remain 5v5 for the near future.
(Note: The Rules Committee passed a proposal allowing conferences to follow the 5v5 overtime period with 5 minutes of 3v3 overtime then a shootout for conference points, but Hockey East isn’t considered a conference that would consider implementing this provision.)