Sauer – the sixth-winningest coach in college history
– writes a bi-weekly column for Inside College Hockey.com.
"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.
listening pleasure, find The
Bud Song on Wisconsin's official site.
of the fun in doing this column is the opportunity to interact
with you, the hockey fan. Please send your questions or comments
The Dean's List by Jeff Sauer
I went to the
movies in St. Paul, Minn., last month with a bunch of college hockey
coaches. I think it's fair to say we had our eyes opened by what
It wasn't a
Stephen King thriller on the screen, but a tape of the NCAA championship
hockey game between Denver and Maine last spring. On display were
over 30 moments from the tight-checking game – a lot of clutching,
grabbing, tie-ups along the boards. All could have been called penalties.
Only two were called.
Later that night
I accompanied the Western Collegiate Hockey Association coaches
to the World Cup game at the Xcel Energy Center between the United
States and Finland. I paid close attention to how many instances
of hooking, holding, and picks off the faceoffs the two teams committed
(the infractions I saw on the tape). There were hardly any in a
game involving two of the best teams in the world.
me more than ever that the commissioners and supervisors of officials,
in conjunction with the NCAA men's and women's ice hockey rules
committee, are right in their point of emphasis this year: Proper
have read the letter went out to the ice hockey community in early
September. If not, take a peek.
Because this letter will give you an idea why the game is going
to be called differently when the college season starts in full
force this week.
When I was coaching,
I have to admit I got caught up in the "let them play"
philosophy that the commissioners and rules committee are attacking
in this letter. After watching the game the last few years, I think
it's time we open the game up. The changes are needed.
It doesn't mean
there are more rules this year. It just mean the ones in the book
are supposed to be called.
It means coaches
and players have to buy into this. It mans referees have to be consistent.
It means league commissioners and supervisor of officials need to
means a lot of special teams situations, particularly early in the
season, when adjustments are going to have to be made by everyone.
But if it works, our game should get better. If there is less holding
and hooking, clutching and grabbing, there should be more passing
and more scoring opportunities.
In the WCHA,
there will be another rule change that fans will be interested in.
At the rinks in Colorado College and Denver, the referee will have
the ability to use replay to double-check the validity of goals.
He will have a TV monitor at the scorer's table and the referee,
not a replay official, will watch the replay and make a determination
on the play. This is a different process than the NCAA uses at the
tournament. It is an experiment to see if it can help the game without
adding a lot of expense.
But the big
change will be in the enforcement of the rules and the consistency
shown in making this initiative a success.
I know there
are skeptics. And admittedly, we have heard about this type of crackdown
before, only to see it go away by January. But judging from the
reaction at the WCHA coaches meeting and talking to officials in
the game, this time it feels different.
is there to make this work. If it does, every fan in the stands
and player on the ice should notice.