I was on the phone with Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming NHL Draft, but while I had him on the line, I figured I'd ask the Bulldogs sophomore-to-be his thoughts on the proposed new overtime structure in college hockey.
He wasn't aware of the possible changes that would eliminate 3-on-3 periods and shootouts. The whole thing confused the 19-year-old from Hibbing, especially the concept that a game could just end in a tie.
"Why not just do 3-on-3 and then a shootout just like everyone else?" Perunovich asked.
The NCAA should expect to hear that question asked a lot in 2018-19 if it follows through with the overtime proposal its men's and women's ice hockey rules committee announced last week, one that turns college hockey's clock back 10 years instead of catching the sport up with the rest of the modern hockey world.
No more 3-on-3. No shootouts. When a game is tied after three periods, a five-minute, 5-on-5 sudden-death overtime will be played and, if the game is tied after that, it will remain a tie. No other options to break that tie, even just for conference standings, will be permitted.
The proposal applies to men's and women's hockey at the Division I and III levels. It's meant to standardize regular-season formats throughout college hockey, but it likely will create more confusion, especially for the casual fan and those who are new to the college game.
"I just think we're going backwards," said Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin, a proponent of 3-on-3 overtime periods. "It's an exciting part of the game. Players like it. Fans like it. Everybody else is doing it. I'd like to see us do it and continue to do it.
"It's important to keep moving our game forward, not backward."
See, ties are practically nonexistent these days in the sport of hockey, specifically at the highest levels. The NHL has been breaking ties since it instituted shootouts for the 2005-06 regular season after already trying to reduce ties further by playing 4-on-4 in OT.
Now the NHL and its top two minor leagues, the American Hockey League and ECHL, break regular-season ties via 3-on-3 overtime, followed by a shootout if necessary. The same goes for junior leagues in the U.S. (USHL, NAHL) and in Canada - whether they are major junior or junior A status.
Meanwhile, much of the NCAA remains locked in the 1990s, still holding 5-on-5 OT periods and allowing regular-season games to end in deadlocks. At the Division I level in 2017-18, the NCHC and WCHA were the only leagues using 3-on-3 overtimes and, if necessary, a shootout to break ties. The Big Ten and women's WCHA used shootouts.
Games ending in a tie - which has continued out east in Hockey East, Eastern College Athletic Conference, Atlantic Hockey and College Hockey America - is a foreign concept to Perunovich's generation of hockey players and fans, which are the future of the sport.
That includes 20-year-old Maddie Rooney, goaltender for the Bulldogs and 2018 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic Women's Hockey Team. Despite her save in a shootout against Canada in the gold medal game being one of the defining moments in American sports history, she's actually not a huge fan of shootouts. As a goalie, 3-on-3 isn't really her thing.
But ties? She wants nothing of that, either. That's not part of the game of hockey she or anyone her age knows.
"Shootouts aren't ideal," said Rooney, who returns to the Bulldogs as a junior in the fall. "I'd rather have it be overtime until someone scores. Any way we can not just end in a tie would be ideal."
Added Perunovich toward the end of our conversation: "This isn't soccer."