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NCAA Clarifies Video Review Rules After Controversial Calls

Carolina Hurricanes v New Jersey Devils Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Two plays last weekend have forced the NCAA men’s ice hockey rules committee to release a memo clarifying the rules and intent of video review.

The first occurred Friday evening in a game between Notre Dame and Penn State. Notre Dame’s Jake Pivonka appeared to give the Irish a 1-0 lead in the first period. But after a long video review—actually two reviews—the goal was eventually waved off for too many men.

Notre Dame would eventually pull off an incredible come back after going down 3-0 in the second period and trailing 4-2 heading into the third period. The Irish won 5-4 in overtime. But imagine if that game ends up as a one-goal Penn State win. Instead of Notre Dame sitting at 15th in what is for now, the final at-large tournament spot with Penn State one spot behind, Penn State would have moved up to 14th, and Notre Dame would have dropped to 20th, all but killing any hope of an at-large bid. Even a tie would have put Penn State 15th, Notre Dame 19th.

On Saturday night, nearly the same thing occurred in the overtime between Wisconsin and Michigan.

Wisconsin scored an overtime game-winning goal. Michigan head coach Mel Pearson decided to use his challenge to challenge the play for offsides, because you might as well at that point. But once a video review is initiated, by rule, officials are allowed to review all aspects of the goal for any possible infraction(This rule was added to the rule book this year, and is terrible).

For the record, a few people have asked how too many men could be used to wave off the goal, when no penalty was called on the play. Officials are not able to use video review to assess a minor penalty, but can use it to disallow a goal.

Thankfully, the universe and exceedingly poor gap control intervened and Wisconsin had won the game again by the next whistle, so again, no harm, no foul in this instance.

The memo from the rules committee today makes it clear that both of these goals should have counted.

This is due to Rule 73.5 in the NCAA men’s ice hockey rulebook which outlines the “Overall Philosophy” for video review:

(Sidenote: Last year’s version of the rule book included the phrase, “When in doubt, the goal should count” in this section. That was removed so that “When in doubt, call an injury timeout” could be added to a section on concussions. We’re only allowed to rhyme once, apparently.)

While it could be argued that both teams violated the new too many men on the ice rule requiring a player to be within five feet of his bench before a teammate can enter the playing surface, it was exceedingly clear that neither of the offending players were in any way involved the play and it was not a significant, egregious violation that resulted in a goal.

This interpretation was added via the memo to make this much clearer:

Situation 4: At the 6:00 mark of the first period, Team A is on a line rush and enters the attacking zone 3 on 2. Well behind the play and with no gained advantage present, Team A defenseman A57 is attempting to change and is not five feet from his team’s bench. This is unobserved by the officials on the ice. A3 comes onto the ice replacing A57 before A57 is five feet from the bench. Within seconds of this Team A player changes behind the play, Team A scores. What is the ruling?

RULING: Good goal following the review. This type of scenario did not create a gained advantage and did not lead directly to the goal being scored.

Frustrating as both of those calls may have been last weekend, it is at least good that they were so bad that the NCAA felt the need to address them before the playoff season began. Besides the fact that we don’t need to be searching for excuses to not count goals, it would have been really bad to see a team’s season end because of a poor rules interpretation like that.