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UAA hockey coach Curley finds ways to stay busy at home and away

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: May 7, 2020
  • Published May 7, 2020
UAA coach Matt Curley reacts to action on the ice during a game last season. (Bill Roth / ADN archives)

Things are slower than usual for college hockey coaches, who often spend this part of the year scouring junior tournaments for talent and connecting with coaches and players in their hunt for recruits. This year they are sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has canceled springtime tournaments and limited air travel.

UAA coach Matt Curley is filling the time by taking care of a to-do list. Two lists, in fact.

“I’m catching up on a lot of home to-do projects,” he said Thursday, two months after UAA’s final game of the season. “I was supposed to be at a USA Hockey event this weekend.”

Curley, who is entering his third season as UAA’s head coach, has been in Anchorage ever since returning from a March 6-7 playoff series in Mankato, Minnesota. Five days after Minnesota State swept the Seawolves, the NCAA canceled the rest of the season because of the new coronavirus.

This week Curley took on a new duty. He was named to the 11-person NCAA ice hockey rules committee, a two-year term that begins in September.

He’s the only committee member from any of the three conferences with teams located predominantly in the west or midwest — the Western Collegiate Hockey Association that UAA and UAF play in, plus the Big Ten and the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.

“It was a way to represent our conference, and gain some personal experience, and to have UAA on a national platform,” Curley said. “I thought it was important for the university and our program.”

Curley already has a to-do list for his new assignment, although right now it only has one item. He said he wants to push for all of college hockey to adopt the 3-on-3 overtime rule in place in the WCHA.

Current NCAA rules require a five-minute 5-on-5 overtime for every game that is tied after regulation, but what happens next if the game is still tied varies by conference.

In the WCHA, it’s followed by five minutes of 3-on-3 play, followed by a shootout. In three of college hockey’s six conferences, there is no 3-on-3 overtime play.

“Hopefully that will be something we can alleviate so we’re all on the same page,” Curley said. “When we played Maine in overtime this year it was different (rules) than when we played Bemidji State in overtime. It shouldn’t be that way. I think we should be on the same page.”

Curley is a big fan of 3-on-3 overtime hockey, something the NHL went to in the 2015-16 season with considerable success. It’s fast and it often produces goals, which eliminates the need for a shootout -- a format often derided as a “skills competition” and not true hockey.

“I love that format, and I think we should model the NHL when possible,” Curley said. “Kids love it, and fans love it.”

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