Red Gendron has had a change of heart when it comes to overtime in college hockey.
The University of Maine head men’s coach always favored the format now in use by the NCAA, which includes a five-minute, sudden-death period with regular personnel. If nobody scores, it is a tie.
Recently, Gendron has come to see the benefits of a five-minute overtime session of 3-on-3 play as is used in the National Hockey League and in three of the six Division I conferences.
The NHL goes directly to 3-on-3 after regulation, while the Big Ten, Western Collegiate Hockey Association and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference play a five-minute, 5-on-5 period.
In college if neither team scores, the game is recorded as a tie but resumes with five minutes of 3-on-3 and, if necessary, a three-player shootout. Teams receive three league points for a win in regulation or the 5-on-5 overtime and two points for a 3-on-3 or a shootout victory. The overtime loser earns one point.
In the NHL, each team receives a point if the game is tied after regulation and the team that scores in overtime or wins the shootout earns an extra point.
Hockey East, Atlantic Hockey and the ECAC Hockey League stop play after the five-minute, 5-on-5 overtime. Teams earn two league points for a win in regulation or overtime or one point for a tie.
“Personally, I think the 3-on-3 would be more entertaining for the fans and it would also enhance the student-athlete experience,” Gendron said. “A lot of people prefer seeing an outcome [rather than a tie].”
NCAA rules changes are made every two years, including this year, and may be presented by the American Hockey Coaches Association. However, the organization’s annual convention in Florida has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gendron and other Hockey East coaches have already participated in a Zoom teleconference to discuss possible changes. He strongly believes it is time for all the college conferences should agree to use the overtime format.
There are some potential sticking points, including whether to go immediately to a 3-on-3 overtime at the end of regulation or to play a five-minute, 5-on-5 session before going to 3-on-3.
Also to be determined is whether playing to a deadlock through a 5-on-5 period should ultimately result in the losing team receiving some recognition in terms of the PairWise Rankings used by the NCAA to determine postseason selection and seeding.
Gendron supports such a benefit for a losing team that reaches the second phase of overtime.
“College hockey would be better served across the country if we had the same system for point allocations,” Gendron said.
Under the present format, UMaine must decide when visiting a Big Ten, WCHA or NCHC team whether it is willing to use their overtime format.
“We can refuse and that would be confusing for the fans,” Gendron said.
NCAA coaches will present their recommendations to the NCAA Ice Hockey Committee and the Ice Hockey Rules Committee for a vote in June. Any rule changes would be implemented next season.
Hockey East coaches also have talked about the league’s playoff format. Last season, it switched from all 11 teams qualifying for the conference playoffs to eight participants.
Gendron said because of an unbalanced schedule under which teams play some opponents six times and the others four times, all teams should be included in the postseason.