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NCHC overtime format didn’t change standings

Clint Austin / Minnesota Duluth players stretch Thursday during practice sessions for the NCHC Frozen Faceoff at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

ST. PAUL -- The offseason battle last summer in college hockey was about overtime.

Despite efforts by the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee to make overtime uniform across all six college hockey conferences, it ended up allowing each league to do as it wants.

The three Eastern-based conferences -- Hockey East, the Eastern College Athletic Conference and Atlantic Hockey -- opted to stop games after the NCAA-mandated five-minute overtime and leave the game as a tie.

The three Western-based conferences -- the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, the Big Ten and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association -- all opted to break the ties for conference points only by using a three-on-three for five minutes and a shootout after that.

Once again, the three-on-three and shootouts proved to be free entertainment for the fans without significant impact on the standings.

For the third season in a row, the three-on-three overtime and shootout did not affect one spot in the league standings. All eight places would have been the exact same if the NCHC had the same overtime protocol as the Eastern-based leagues.

The WCHA’s standings also were not affected at all by using the three-on-three and shootout. All 10 spots would have been exactly the same had the WCHA stuck with ties.

There only would have been one change in the Big Ten -- second-place Notre Dame and third-place Minnesota -- would have flip-flopped spots.

NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton has spoken strongly in favor of not only using the three-on-three overtimes and shootouts for conference play but also for experimenting in nonconference play. Values of three-on-three or shootout wins would be lower than a win in regulation or in the five-minute five-on-five overtime.

Discussion about overtime formats will likely continue this spring during national meetings in Florida.

SCSU star injured

St. Cloud State entered the NCHC Frozen Faceoff with the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament locked up.

About the only thing it didn’t want to see happen this weekend in St. Paul is an injury to a key player. But that’s exactly what happened early in Friday’s semifinal against Colorado College.

St. Cloud State standout Ryan Poehling, a first-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, awkwardly crashed into the end boards and didn’t return.

His status for Saturday’s game and for next week’s NCAA tournament was not immediately known. Poehling has 31 points in 34 games this season.

The Huskies are expected to be assigned to play in Fargo for the NCAA West Regional.

Last year, St. Cloud State also had the top seed but was knocked off by No. 16 overall seed Air Force.