Nanooks Hockey

Troy Van Tetering (left) and Sam Craggs (right) fight for the puck during the third period of Friday's WCHA Quarterfinals game between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Bowling Green at the Carlson Center. Laura Stickells/News-Miner

The NCAA has changed the overtime rule for men’s and women’s ice hockey for the 2020-21 season — assuming there is a season.

Under the new rule, teams tied after 60 minutes of regulation will play a five-minute three-on-three sudden death period. If neither team scores in overtime, the teams will proceed to a three-person shootout.

The new rule will apply to conference games and regular-season tournaments.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the changes last week.

The previous overtime format had teams playing a five-minute overtime at full strength — five players on each team. Individual conferences, including the WCHA, had the authority to have the overtime period followed, if necessary, by an additional three-on-three overtime and shootout.

The men’s hockey teams at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Alaska Anchorage are both NCAA Division I programs. Both schools are members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Neither school has an NCAA women’s hockey team.

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel also approved a rule allowing teams to choose in which faceoff circle the puck would be dropped for the start of a power play or following an icing violation and eliminated a rule requiring that team members shake hands after a game.

NCAA President Mark Emmert last week expressed worry last week about the COVID-19 infection rate across the nation.

“Today the Board of Governors and I agreed that we must continue to thoughtfully and aggressively monitor health conditions around the country and the implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines we issued last week,” he said in a statement issued Friday.

“We all remain deeply concerned about the infection trend lines we see. It is clear that the format of our championships will have to change if they are to be conducted in a safe and fair manner,” he said. “We discussed other complexities in addition to the health and safety impacts, to include team availability, travel limitations and various local and state restrictions. We will continue our discussions in August.”

Contact Editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor.