Time for College Hockey to Use Video Review on Major Penalties

ncaahockeyThis past season, one of the major topics of discussion for NCAA hockey was using video review before calling  major penalties.

Hockey is a fast-paced, physical game, and things happen on the ice at a high rate of speed. Refs are also human and don’t always make the correct call.

On-ice officials are asked to make split second decisions that can affect the outcome of the game. Why not take a little extra time and get the call right? Over the past few seasons, we have seen players erroneously assessed a major penalty, and thrown out of a game for making a legal shoulder-to-shoulder hit.

A simple video review of the play would’ve confirmed that the hit in question was legal and not a major penalty. In this scenario, it makes sense to allow the on-ice officials to review the play in question, to ensure that they’re making the correct call. Seems logical, right?

USCHO.COM – It’s something that the rules committee will debate as it tweaks the rule book for the next two seasons.

As usual, there were a lot of rules issues discussed when committee members heard from coaches at their meetings in late April and early May.

But the topic of video review of major penalties was on the table for a good chunk of time, indicating the weight that’s being placed on setting a course for getting calls right.

It needs to be a priority, considering what’s on the line. Taking any player out of a game changes the bench dynamics, and taking a player out of his or her next game changes the team dynamics. So you’d like for those calls to be made using the best available knowledge. If that’s video, so be it.

Common sense should dictate

Moving forward, a common sense approach should dictate policy. If an on-ice official is going to throw a player out of a game (for a major penalty) wouldn’t we want that official take another look at the play in question?

Some have argued that using video reviews on major penalties would drag the games out. I don’t believe so, a few extra seconds getting the play right wouldn’t slow the game down that much. I would rather have the officials take the extra time, and get the call right.

According to NCAA Rule 22.2, if a player gets three game misconduct penalties in a season, that player is suspended for another game.

Unlike the NHL, in division I college hockey once a player has been given a game misconduct penalty, the league officials can’t go back and review the infraction in question and make the proper changes.  In other words, the officials can add to the penalty, but they can’t reduce or rescind the call, even if the official erred on the play. This is another rule that I would like to see changed. Don’t count on that happening anytime soon, either.

Last winter I said this: I the think the NCAA should want to improve the game and give the college hockey conferences another chance to right a wrong by the on-ice officials.  Again, officials are human and at times make the wrong call. I must ask the question, do we have too much pride as a sport to admit when the on-ice officials make a mistake?

Eric Burton
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey for Inside Hockey and is the editor of Goon’s World. Eric started writing for the Hockey Writers Combine in September of 2012 and is the lead writer for College Hockey.
Eric Burton
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