The Dean's List

Jeff Sauer – the sixth-winningest coach in college history – writes a bi-weekly column for Inside College "The Dean" was the head coach for 31 years at Colorado College and Wisconsin, where he won two national titles. Sauer retired at the end of the 2001-02 season. He was the 2003 Snooks Kelley Award winner for contributions to U.S. hockey and ranked 16th on INCH's list of the all-time greatest college hockey coaches.

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October 10, 2003
The Dean's List by Jeff Sauer

The start of a new season is always a time of great expectations. Last year it was a time of rule changes that impacted the game, like the speed-up faceoff rule which nearly every fan and certainly every coach and player noticed had an effect on the game.

There is no such high-profile rule change this season. Referees have been instructed to be look for points of emphasis on the rules which will insure the safety of players, a goal each year. As usual, referees have been asked to watch the checks from behind and the hits to the head.

The biggest rule change involves goaltending equipment. You may have noticed that many goaltenders lost their facemasks last year during collisions. Part of the reason for this was that goalies didn't fasten their chin straps and thus it was easier for the mask to come off.

This season, assistant referees will check before the game and during the game that goalies, like all players, must have their chin straps fastened or a two-minute penalty will be assessed.

The faceoff rule has been tweaked a little since last year, when referees were instructed to drop the puck 15 seconds after a stoppage.

While the rule was generally favorably received, most coaches and officials thought the 15-second rule didn't give the home team enough of an advantage on a change. So the college game will now model the National Hockey League and there will be 18 seconds before the puck is dropped – five seconds for the visitors to change, eight seconds for the home change (three more than last year), and five seconds to get settled and drop the puck. Everyone seemed comfortable with this adjustment.

The women's game continues to grow. The NCAA just announced the national tournament will expand from four to eight teams next season (2004-05), which is great for the sport. But after sitting through some meetings involving women's coaches and referees, I think there still has to be some consensus into how much physical play should be allowed in the women's game.
Some coaches and officials think there should be some contact allowed. Others think it should stress skating and passing, and I think there will have to be more give and take on this issue.

Another topic that comes up every year is instant replay. The NCAA just ruled it will run its own replays at the national tournament next year so it will not be reliant solely on the television producers to dictate which replays are available to officials. This ruling negates an experiment by the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, which was going to set up its own replay system in Denver this season.

But after receiving the NCAA guidelines on replays for the national tournament next year, the WCHA thought it would be too cumbersome to run a similar replay system during league games in Denver. It has shelved the idea for now.

The start of the season is always exciting with all the predictions, the talk of exciting new players and high expectations.

Let's drop the puck and get things started.

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