The NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee has approved the experimental use of a two-referees-two-linesmen officiating system and it will be used during the Friday-Saturday series between the University of Maine and visiting Bemidji State (Minn.)
However, since the NCAA will retain the one-referee-two-linesmen system for the NCAA Tournament this season, the six Division I leagues will stick with the one-and-two system for their league games while encouraging the use of the two-and-two system for non-league games, according to Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
Maine and Minnesota used the two-and-two system in Friday night’s 3-1 Maine win.
Hockey East has made the two-and-two system mandatory for use in exhibition games and encouraged it’s use in non-league games, said Whitehead.
Whitehead has proposed the system at the last three NCAA hockey coaches conventions and is glad it has finally been approved.
“It puts referees in position to succeed,” said Whitehead. “Now each referee has to cover only half the ice. One will have the play coming at him and will be in position to make those crucial goal line decisions [on disputed goals]. The one trailing the play will be able to catch penalties behind the play.”
He also said “another big positive is that young officials will have the chance to get experience and one way to help their development would be to put them with a veteran official. That puts the young referee in position to succeed.
“It has been successful in the NHL and that’s the best league in the world,” added Whitehead.
The system earned mixed reviews from the Maine players although no one disliked it.
“I couldn’t tell a difference,” said Maine sophomore goalie Ben Bishop. “I don’t think it will make much of a difference other than there being more penalties called [with the two-and-two system].”
Senior left wing and assistant captain Josh Soares agreed with Bishop but senior center and captain Michel Leveille and junior center Wes Clark liked it.
“Sometimes the pace of the game is so quick, [one] referee can’t see everything,” said Leveille. “This will help them make better decisions because they won’t be rushing up the ice to follow the play.”
Clark said, “it was good on Friday night in Minnesota. It opened the game up a lot more. They were making the right calls and letting some stuff go.”
Kariya gives Bears a boost
The Bears received a lift from former Hobey Baker Award winner and current Nashville Predators star Paul Kariya, who addressed them before the Minnesota win.
“He let us know this was a special time in our lives and to enjoy every minute of it,” said Soares. “He said he loved it at Maine and told us to keep the tradition going and try to bring home another [NCAA] championship. It was real nice to meet him and have him speak to us.,”
“It was a real surprise,” said Leveille. “He definitely motivated us.”
Former Black Bear two-time All-American defenseman Keith Carney, who plays for the Minnesota Wild, met the players after the game.
“Getting to talk to them was impressive. They have been in the show [NHL] quite a while,” said Leveille.