The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Hockey: Shootouts decide CCHA games

Sam Gans | Thursday, February 10, 2011

The last time the Irish hit the ice for a series, on Jan. 28 and 29 against Miami (Ohio), a shootout decided both games. The first contest left the Notre Dame students and fans disappointed. The second left the Irish supporters elated.

Yet, according to the NCAA, the result of both games was the same: a tie.

The shootout is a competition used when two teams are tied after regulation play and five minutes of overtime. Three skaters are selected by each team to attempt a one-on-one breakaway against the opposition’s goaltender. After all three players for each team take their shots, the team with the most goals wins the shootout. If no team has pulled ahead after three rounds, the shootout continues until one team scores and the other misses.

The intensity and drama a shootout consists of provides great entertainment to fans. Yet it also can be a perplexing and confusing event. Though one team “wins” and one “loses” a shootout, any game that goes to a shootout results in a tie for both teams’ NCAA record. To add to the confusion, the CCHA, Notre Dame’s conference, awards three points for a win, zero for a loss, and one for a tie in the conference standings, solely in conference games. The winner of the shootout then receives an extra point, in addition to the one point earned for the draw.

Irish coach Jeff Jackson said he dislikes the shootout deciding an extra point, because it is not contested in game-like conditions.

“I think it’s not part of the game,” Jackson said. “[Teams] get an extra point for scoring one goal on a breakaway in a non-game environment.”

Jackson is also not a shootout supporter because the attitude of a team can be heavily influenced by an event that doesn’t change the game’s official result.

“We tied the game last night and it felt like we lost,” Jackson said after Notre Dame’s shootout victory Jan. 29, in reference to the previous night’s shootout loss. “The kids battled hard for 65 minutes, and we tied the game according to the NCAA. We had to motivate them this morning, because they were down, and it shouldn’t be that way after a hard fought tie, like in the good ole days of hockey.”

While Jackson is not a fan of the shootout, some of his players have opposite emotions.

“I love [the shootout]. I think it’s great for the fans,” Irish senior center Ben Ryan said. “Having the shootout decide [an extra point] is awesome for the sport of college hockey.”

Notre Dame sophomore goaltender Mike Johnson also said he thinks the shootout is exciting, though sometimes the result can be disheartening.

“I think it’s definitely fun for the league,” Johnson said. “But if you’re on the losing end, it’s kind of bitter, even though it’s still a tie.”

Though the shootout may be a tie for the NCAA, the extra point for a shootout win can be critical down the conference stretch. But both players take a calm demeanor into the event.

“When I [approach] the goalie, I just think of a few different things I’m going to do,” Ryan said. “I know his tendencies a little bit, but I don’t try to psyche myself out.”

Johnson echoed the thoughts of his teammate.

“It’s just reaction,” Johnson said. “I just go out there and try to stop the puck. I try not to think too much about it and just focus on one shooter at a time. Sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn’t, but you just have to brush it off either way.”