Western College Hockey and MVictors pointed out some rules changes coming to NCAA hockey for next season.
1) All games will have 2 refs and 2 linesmen
We've covered this one before. I don't see any way that this rule change isn't a complete and utter disaster. The CCHA has like one competent referee (and it wasn't so long ago that he was a linesman), the WCHA had problem after problem with their refs this year, and I haven't really enjoyed Michigan's experiences with HockeyEast refs all that much (Scott Hansen, I'm looking in your direction). Now we're doubling the amount of referees? Where are these refs going to come from? The only possible positive would be if the CCHA needed Steve Piotrowski and Duke Shegos to come out of retirement. I just can't wait for the first time Michigan ends up with McInchak and Lisko. I had better stock up on remotes and monitors...
2) The shootout is optional
I really like the way the committee decided to deal with the issue of ties. Keep overtime as it is, let the conferences institute a shootout if they want to, and count all shootout victories as ties for PairWise purposes. I'm not sure how I'd feel about the CCHA adopting shootouts, though. I think you'd have to start awarding points for all overtime losses, and I don't necessarily like that in a season that contains less than 30 conference games. That being said, I do love shootouts. I search around Center Ice to find the games that have shootout potential. There's exactly a 0% chance I'd ever turn one off. I'm just not positive I want the CCHA to start awarding OTL/SOL points, and I don't think it'd be right to award 0 points to a team that lost in a shootout since it's such an artificial way to determine a winner.
3) Faceoffs take place on one of the nine dots
I've liked this rule since the NHL instituted it. It doesn't make that much of a difference, but I've never liked it when a faceoff would take place 2 feet inside the blue line. This rule gets rid of faceoffs in awkward positions and I like that.
4) Teams can't change lines if they ice the puck
Love it! This was one of the best rules the NHL came up with in their new rules package that was instituted after the lockout. You can ice the puck if you're dead tired, but you don't get bailed out with a free line change--and the other team is allowed to put new players on. Have fun with that, LSSU.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see that they didn't put in two of the NHL rules which I absolutely hate: The trapezoid behind the net and the automatic delay-of-game penalty for a player shooting the puck into the crowd in his own end.
The trapezoid penalizes goalies adept at handling the puck. I don't like that. It'd be like ruling that a defenseman isn't allowed to come in past the top of the circle. This isn't zone soccer or knob hockey. Why hurt a guy for being skilled?
I also don't feel that it should be all that difficult to determine if a player intentionally shot the puck into the crowd. I'm usually a fan of rules that are clear-cut, but this is one case where I would be in favor of judgment calls. If a guy is trying to throw the puck high off the glass but misses, why is he getting penalized? If there's pressure, sure, penalize him. But with all the crap they let go throughout a game, it infuriates me when a team gets a free power play for something harmless like a defenseman accidentally putting the puck into the crowd.
Also, I was happy to see they didn't ban teams from icing the puck when killing penalties.
They've adjusted the kicking the puck rule, but I'm not really sure how it's different from previous years. Again, I don't think it's all that difficult to determine what is a distinct kicking motion and what isn't. Why are we still disallowing all goals that hit a skate which is moving toward the net?
Overall, I like what they've done this off-season. I just hope they have a slew of competent referees waiting in the wings....