The WCHA announced on Tuesday some slight changes to the on-ice game structure for this coming season.
The biggest change is to the league’s overtime procedure. In the event of a tie at the end of the regulation, the two teams will play the NCAA-sanctioned five minutes of 5-on-5 overtime(a proposal to change that to 4-on-4 was vetoed by the coaches this summer). In the event that the game remains tied after that five-minute overtime, the game officially goes into the record books as a tie for statistical and Pairwise computer ranking purposes.
Then, the two teams will play a five-minute 3-on-3 overtime period, and if a tie is not settled, the two teams will do a sudden death shootout to determine a winner.
To reflect this change in overtime procedure, all WCHA conference games will be worth three points in the WCHA standings. A team that wins in regulation/5-on-5 OT will take all three points. If the game remains tied after the first overtime period, each team will receive one point, and the winner of the 3-on-3 OT/shootout will take the third point.
The NCHC switched to the same overtime format last season to great success. Six of the league’s 96 league games went beyond the initial five-on-five overtime, and five of the six were decided during the 3-on-3 overtime period, with only one game decided by a shootout.
Ties were much more frequent in the WCHA last season, with 23 of the league’s 140 games ending in a draw—roughly once every six games. The extra overtime period should add some more excitement to the league’s more conservative style of play.
The league also approved the use of NHL-style nets across the league. NHL-style nets use a 40-inch goal frame, compared to the usual 44-inch goal frame, which will give players an additional four inches to work with behind the net.