3-on-3 overtime coming to Big Ten, completing East/West divide in men’s college hockey

September 28, 2018

A change to the Big Ten Conference’s overtime format for 2018-19 has completed the standoff between Western men’s college hockey leagues and their Eastern colleagues.

Big Ten games that are tied after regulation and an NCAA-mandated, five-minute overtime period will be decided using 3-on-3 play and, if necessary, a sudden-death shootout.

That change, in the works for months with the support of league coaches but announced on Thursday after administrators approved it, puts the Big Ten in line with the two other Division I men’s Western leagues, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

The three Eastern leagues — Hockey East, ECAC Hockey and Atlantic Hockey — all end games in ties if they don’t have a winner after regulation and five minutes of overtime.

The Western band has much of the rest of the hockey world on its side in the showdown, which has been enabled by NCAA rules that allow for leagues to choose from different formats. Most amateur and pro leagues play 3-on-3 in overtime.

“To me, it’s what they do,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It’s what these (college) kids come in and want to do as well.”

The NCAA hockey rules committee attempted to unify college hockey leagues this offseason by initially declaring that all games that are tied after the five minutes of 5-on-5 overtime would end in a draw. Opposition from the NCHC and WCHA led the blowback that caused the committee to relent and allow for 3-on-3 and shootout play, but only in conference games where the decision is used in the standings.

Games decided in 3-on-3 play or a shootout still will count as ties for the formulas that determine at-large bids and seeding for the NCAA Tournament.

In its first five seasons, the Big Ten used a three-round shootout to award an extra point in the standings when games were tied after 65 minutes.

The winner in 3-on-3 or a shootout will get two points in the standings, with the loser getting one. A win in regulation or the five minutes of 5-on-5 overtime is worth three points.

If the 3-on-3 session doesn’t bring a victor, the teams will play a series of one-round shootouts until one team scores and the other doesn’t.

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