College hockey is going to get tougher on hits to the head.
Ten days ago the NCAA sent out a memo on the subject to all coaches, officials and, athletic directors.
On Wednesday, WCHA commish Bruce McLeod is going to have a teleconference call with all the coaches in his league to make sure they understand the new emphasis on hits to the head.
"We are following up," McLeod said on Tuesday. "The purpose is to further clarify the NCAA memo. .. We all need to be more diligent and raise the profile as much as could on contact to the head.
"They can't change rules. [That is done ever two years; 2010 is the next year rules can be amended.]"
But, even in going through the present rules, there is zero tolerance on contact to the head, McLeod said. But officials have discretion on the severity of the penalty. It could be a two-minute minor, a five-minute major or a disqualification.
"Even with players being in vulnerable positions or quote, on blind-side hits, if there is contact to the head in those situations," McLeod said, "it [a penalty] has to be called. ... And it can be contact to the head with any part of the body, an elbow, a shoulder."
So, in hindsight, when Jade Portwood of Alaska Anchorage broke the jaw of Gophers defenseman Nick Leddy last month, that should have been a penalty. None was called.
McLeod said "we" -- probably meaning him and Greg Shepherd, the supervisor of officials -- would run through some scenarios for coaches on Tuesday so all are up to speed on what will happen if there is contact to the head in games the rest of the season.
Gophers coach Don Lucia has to be happy about all this. After watching Portwood's hit to the head on Leddy on videotape, Lucia said it was illegal and college hockey needed to take action.
Now it has.
GOPHERS LINES JUGGLED
As Lucia promised on his Monday radio show, he has rewarded Jake Hansen for his improved play of late. Hansen, a sophomore winger, was on the second line during Tuesday's practice.
Here is a look at the lines, at least on Tuesday:
First line/ Jordan Schroeder centering Mike Hoeffel and Nico Sacchetti. ... No change there, Schroeder has been scoring goals lately. Hoeffel had a nice set-up pass, Sacchetti is more active.
Second line/ Mike Carman centering Tony Lucia and Hansen. ... Only Lucia remains on second line from last week. Carman was on third line playing left wing. Hansen has bounced around usually between third and fourth line.
Third line/ Taylor Matson centering Nick Laron and Zach Budish. ... Matson is still looking for his first goal this season. He is too good to be stuck at zero. Larson may have played his best game Saturday, Lucia said. Budish is being demoted from the second line. He has been taking penalties at bad times.
Fourth line/ This could easily be interchanged with the third line. Patrick White centering Ryan Flynn and Josh Birkholz. ... White seemed to be coming on, had goals in three consecutive games and was playing on second line. But he has been quiet past couple games.
Couple other notes: Nick Leddy, recovering from a broken jaw, was skating with his teammates during the non-contact portion of Tuesday's practice. He had a white jersey with a big red cross, indicating nobody should hit him. ... The Gophers were working on 2-on-1 rushes and power plays in the middle part of practice on Tuesday. Then I left. Watching drills puts me to sleep.