NCHC looking to speed up video reviews by installing new software
Director of officials Don Adam expects more faceoff infractions to be called this season.
ST. PAUL — The National Collegiate Hockey Conference is attempting to address one of the biggest complaints from college hockey fans: the length of video reviews.
The league is implementing a new video system that's designed to help video technicians find clips for referees faster, and the league's head of officiating, Don Adam, said he will instruct officials to limit the time they spend talking before they go in the penalty box to review a play.
"Like every year, we're trying to get a little bit better at reducing time for reviews," Adam said during the league's annual media day recently at Xcel Energy Center. "You're always going to see a huddle before officials go into the box and that's to make sure the officials are on the same page about the call that was made on the ice. We're trying to streamline that conversation, so guys aren't standing there for two minutes before going in to review."
Adam also will emphasize the need for conclusive evidence to overturn a call on the ice.
"My thought process is, the longer referees stand in there and look at any given video, the more likely they are to change their mind," Adam said. "So what we're encouraging them to do is stick more with their gut, and if they're not seeing something that's blatantly obvious to overturn a call, or push a call a different way, then you just stick with the call on the ice."
The league also will be installing DVSport for reviews, hoping the system will make the process faster.
Commissioner Josh Fenton took the lead on finding a new system, Adam said.
"From what I've heard about it, it's going to be a little easier for the technicians to manipulate the controls," Adam said. "I think based on camera angles and based on the greater ease of manipulating the video, we should be able to speed up the review process.
"We've talked about it in the past. Sometimes, you can have a review that takes five minutes, and really three minutes of that is waiting for the technician to find the video for you. So, that can be a little deceiving, too. We're hoping this new system we're switching to — it's a little more common in all sports — is going to speed it up."
Expect more faceoff penalties
Last season, a new faceoff rule went into place: Instead of kicking a center out of the faceoff dot for an infraction, he's allowed to stay in. But if a center has a second infraction on the same faceoff, he will be called for a two-minute minor for delaying the game.
Adam said he thought officials were too hesitant in calling faceoff infractions for penalties last season.
"We ended up with too many cases where linesmen are tentative to call penalties on the second drop," Adam said. "We ended up in kind of a hurried scenario, where instead of calling a penalty, guys are hurrying the faceoffs and timing the faceoffs and pretty much doing everything they can to eliminate a penalty on the second drop. So, we're going to re-address that.
"I think you're probably going to see a few more penalties on the second faceoff."
Adam said he discussed the faceoff infraction standards with officials during a camp in Denver recently. He planned to reiterate that with officials at another camp in the Twin Cities.
Adam also said he doesn't think officials need to nitpick small infractions.
"What we're looking for on that second faceoff is an aggressive infraction that you guys can see from the press box," Adam said. "It could be a player skating through and making contact with the opposing center. It could be a stick slap or something like that. Or it could be a winger grossly encroaching on a play. Those are the things we're looking for. We want those penalties to be obvious. But is it difficult for a linesman to manage the situation? Yes, it is.
"We're doing our best to make sure those infractions are covered. Now, we have to execute, because as we got into the second half of the season, in the playoffs and into Grand Forks last year, the faceoffs were really difficult down the stretch, so we're addressing those."
UND's Shane Pinto was, by far, the best faceoff man in the league last season, carrying a 61.9 winning percentage. Pinto signed a pro contract with the Ottawa Senators after the season.
The top returning faceoff men in the league are Omaha's Nolan Sullivan (58.8%), Western Michigan's Paul Washe (57.3) and St. Cloud State's Kevin Fitzgerald (57.1). Of those three players, only Washe was called for delay of game last season. It happened in Game 3 in the NCHC Pod.
"If we clamp down on it from the start of the season and carry it through the entire season, that's how you create that standard," Adam said.
More changes coming from UND-Minnesota Duluth game
The five overtime epic between UND and Minnesota Duluth already played a big role in altering the NCAA regionals. There will now be a day off in between the regional semifinals and the regional championship game.
That's not the only change coming from the 6-hour, 12-minute classic.
Adam said the NCAA approved a rule that will reset each team's timeout allotment to one at the beginning of every overtime period.
Previously, each team received a single timeout when the first overtime started, but that's it.