Column: Hokey shootouts need to go

David Nelson

In terms of uselessness, the college hockey shootout ranks somewhere between a person’s appendix and a MySpace account after 2008.

It’s something that can go.

The Minnesota women’s hockey team overcame a two-goal deficit Saturday night. It tied the game and forced overtime against Minnesota-Duluth.

Despite outshooting the Bulldogs 3-1 in overtime, the Gophers didn’t get a chance to continue their momentum into a second overtime.

Instead, a shootout stymied their progress.

Based on its play in overtime, Minnesota should be 4-0-0 after this weekend. But after losing in the shootout, it is 3-0-1.

The appalling nature of the shootout is not limited to just the women’s side.

In 2008, the since-disbanded Central Collegiate Hockey Association became the first men’s hockey conference to implement the NHL-like shootout in its games.

“The shootout has proved to be an exciting addition to hockey at a variety of levels, and we are anxious to bring it into college hockey,” then-CCHA Commissioner Tom Anastos told reporters at the time. “The drama it creates is very popular with fans, and importantly, today’s players love it.”

Though the men’s hockey team hasn’t been forced into a shootout yet this season, it lost at least once last season in a shootout.

Even though the practice didn’t cost Minnesota its first-place finish in the Big Ten last season, it lowered the team’s point total by the season’s end.

Following the NHL lockout of the 2004-05 season, the league introduced the shootout in a series of rule changes before the start of the next season.

In a player poll conducted by the magazine Hockey News, former Wild player and current Fox Sports North analyst Wes Walz said around the time of the rule change that he disagreed with the switch. The shootout’s implementation causes problems and “individuals shouldn’t decide a team game,” he said.

“I know the fans would like it, but I just don’t think it would be good to have games decided like that,” Walz said.

And for what seems like the first time in all of rule-related arguments for collegiate athletics, the blame can’t be put on the NCAA.

The NCAA allows conferences to decide how to play their overtime games.

In just its second season of being a conference, the Big Ten is already showing it made a mistake by adopting the CCHA style of overtime.

Not only do shootouts destroy momentum in hockey games, but they also can take away team chemistry and stamina.

For a conference that’s trying to build strong leaders, the Big Ten’s use of the shootout suggests that it’s more interested in creating individual achievement than team-oriented accomplishment.