Shootout adding some excitement for Minnesota

The Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team may be more prepared to go to the NHL than their male counterparts âÄî at least when it comes to shootouts. The womenâÄôs division of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association added a three-player shootout to their games if a game is tied after a five-minute overtime. The WCHA is the first NCAA Division I womenâÄôs conference to reintroduce the rule to college hocke y. Currently, the WCHA men donâÄôt have plans to add the rule, but the Central Collegiate Hockey Association will use a shootout in its menâÄôs games. Coach Brad Frost said he isnâÄôt sure if the rule will stay in the league after this year, but that it adds excitement to the game for the fans. The point system wonâÄôt change for a win or loss in regulation or overtime, with two points for a win. Both teams will receive a point if the game is still tied at the end of overtime and one additional point will be awarded to the shootout winner. The NCAA Rules and Ice Hockey Committees have allowed conferences the ability to implement this tie-breaking protocol so that every regular-season league game will have a winner while preserving the integrity of the national rankings. Regular season games decided by a shootout will still be considered ties for NCAA purposes so there will be no effect on NCAA records when determining the national tournament field. The Gophers got their first taste of this new rule when they played Wisconsin on Oct. 24. After regulation and overtime, the game was tied 1-1. Wisconsin had the first shooter in each round and first-year goalie Alyssa Grogan blanked all three . First-year Sarah Erickson scored what became the shootout winner in the first round for the Gophers while senior captain Gigi Marvin missed in the second round. A third was not needed because the Gophers won. Erickson said her strategy for the shootout was to not be nervous. Wisconsin shot first and that helped relieve some of her nerves, she said. âÄúI tried not to make the move in my head too early,âÄù she said. Since the start of WCHA competition in mid-September, there have been six shootouts. Ohio State is the only team to not be in one so far. Minnesota almost had their first shootout in their first WCHA game. During the last minutes of regulation against Duluth on Oct. 10, Marvin received a slashing penalty and as she sat in the box , thought about what might happen if the game stayed tied after overtime. The Gophers won in overtime so a shootout wasnâÄôt necessary. âÄúItâÄôs always in the back of your mind,âÄù Marvin said. If a shootout happened, the Gophers would have been ready. Minnesota practices shootouts every Thursday at the end of practice. The team calls it a âÄúshowdownâÄù and it puts the goalies against the skaters. âÄúWe love it. ItâÄôs like a little battle,âÄù Marvin said. âÄúThe forwards battle the goalies and they take pride in stopping you and you take pride in scoring.âÄù Frost said his team works on shootouts similar in the way the team works on breakaways. The team wants to practice moves and come up with the next popular move, Marvin said. âÄúWeâÄôve got kids that can put the puck in the net, thatâÄôs for sure,âÄù Marvin said. âÄúWithout any defenders in the way, it makes it that much easier.âÄù