The NCAA women’s hockey season is almost underway and this year is full of changes. Rule changes, a new team, new conference, and every season is a chance for a new champion. Here, 49 previews the upcoming NCAA hockey season.
The NCAA has altered its video review rule to help keep the flow of the game going. Before, if an offside or too-many-men-on-the-ice lead to a goal in the last 10 minutes of a game or in OT, the referee or coach could challenge the call for a video review. Now, the video review will only occur if the coach challenges the call.
This is a good move on the NCAA’s part because the previous rules they implemented for the 2017-18 season that was still in play last year caused a lot of confusion for both the players and the coaches. The confusion lead to lengthy delays and that was the opposite of what the league wants for women’s hockey. With the new changes, there will be fewer stoppages in play and a more continuous flow to the game.
Now every regular-season tournament game will have the same overtime style of play as regular-season games. This means that if the game is tied after the third period, they will play 5 minutes of 5-on-5 overtime. If the game is still tied after that, they have the option of ending it in three ways:
A 5 minute 3-on-3 sudden-death overtime
A 20-minute sudden-death period.
New team: Long Island University
The 2019-2020 season will see a new team on the ice with the LIU Sharks and the team will be in a new conference called the NEWHA (New England Women’s Hockey Alliance). Their head coach, Rob Morgan, spent his year scouting players from all over and recruiting them onto his team. He has players from Sweden and Manitoba, as well as homegrown talent like Staten Island.
The players he recruited fit into the style of play that Morgan wants. He wants a fast team that really puts the pressure on offensively. He wants to see defencemen join the rush and who grind in the corners to fight for loose pucks. The first season might not be very strong, but once the players establish chemistry and understand how NCAA hockey is played (as many players are international), this team will soon be a force to be reckoned with.
New conference: New England Women’s Hockey Alliance (NEWHA)
There are six teams in the new conference:
Franklin Pierce University
Sacred Heart University
Saint Anselm College
Saint Michael’s College
Long Island University
The establishment of a new NCAA conference allows NEWHA to get an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament in 2021-2022. However, this will only happen if all six teams remain in the conference for the next two years.
The new rule changes ensure more continuous action through 60 minutes of play. The new team and conference indicate growth in collegiate women’s hockey as more women are getting opportunities and scholarships. NCAA women’s hockey is growing in popularity and this is just the beginning. It’s going to be a fascinating season that the 49 will be covering in-depth so stay tuned for even more NCAA coverage.