Ice Hockey Rules Committees Recommendations

The Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee slightly altered its goal crease rule and continued its emphasis on proper rules enforcement during its meeting June 6-9 in Indianapolis.

The committee’s proposals will be forwarded to the Playing Rules Oversight Panel for final approval.

The rule regarding the goal crease was changed to give the official some latitude when a goal is scored and an attacking player is in the crease. Previously, this goal would be disallowed, even when the attacking player did not interfere with the goalkeeper or have anything to do with the play. In several high-profile cases, goals were disallowed that likely would have counted during the regular season because of the use of video replay.

“First and foremost, the committee feels the crease rule is a good one as written for regular season play,” said Enrico Blasi, chair of the rules committee and head men’s coach at Miami (Ohio) University. “In some situations when we have the benefit of video replay, goals were disallowed that would count otherwise. We decided to change this, but want to make it clear that our goalkeepers must have room to play their positions and officials must use this rule to keep players out of the crease.”

In the new rule, the referee has the discretion to allow a goal if there is an attacking player in the crease, but the attacking player — by the referee’s judgment — has no bearing on the play.

Boarding and charging were better defined to note that these penalties are “from the front or side.” The committee hopes this will help officials to properly call hitting from behind more often and take away the option of a lesser penalty.

“We feel that, in many cases, hitting from behind is called as boarding or charging, when it should be hitting from behind by definition,” Blasi said. “To rid our game of these types of plays, we changed the definition slightly.”

Now, anytime a player is hit from behind into the boards, regardless of the result of the play, a major penalty and a game misconduct or disqualification must be assessed.

“This is a severe penalty, but the official does have some leeway to call a game misconduct or disqualification,” Blasi said. “We will support the officials, as we have with the rules initiative last year, in cracking down on these dangerous plays. Players and coaches must adjust to take these dangerous plays out of our game.”

Another major change involves a goal that is scored off of an attacking player’s skate. The committee changed the rule to allow goals off an attacking player’s skate, provided there is not a “distinct kicking motion.”

“We felt like using a skate to direct the puck into the goal is a tremendous skill and that skill should be rewarded,” Blasi said. “Clearly, any goal that is scored by kicking the puck will not be allowed.”

The committee also approved video replay to be used in any game, provided one of two replay systems are used. The NCAA system, which is used in championships and any tournaments, requires a video replay official as the sole arbiter of the replay and that official has the final decision.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association experimented with an ice level system last season, with approval from the committee, and the process was successful. Several other conferences indicated interest in using a system, if the rules committee approved use of video technology. Under this system, the same criteria are used for review, but the referee begins the process and reviews the replay at ice level.

“Obviously, what the WCHA did was successful,” Blasi said. “We felt like any conference should be able to use it moving forward, provided the minimum criteria are met.”

The committee again focused on overall rules enforcement as a point of emphasis, paying particular attention to diving and the strength and size of players who may be unduly penalized only because they are larger and/or stronger. The committee also made hitting from behind a point of emphasis for the upcoming season.

Other rules revisions

–Butt-ending and Spearing. These penalties were redefined to include a major penalty and the option of a game misconduct or a game disqualification penalty at the discretion of the referee. Previously, the only option was a major and a disqualification.

–Enforcement of Rule 4-7-e. Goalkeepers are not allowed to freeze the puck (unless to prevent a goal) outside of the crease. The committee feels there are too many unnecessary whistles in situations where a shot is not taken and the goalkeeper freezes the puck.

–Goalkeeper’s equipment. The committee voted to change the goalkeeper’s equipment to be in line with the National Hockey League’s equipment specifications, beginning in the 2006-07 season.

–Spraying the Goalkeeper. This penalty was changed to read: “A player shall not deliberately spray the goalkeeper. PENALTY — Minor.”

–Handshake. The committee clarified the post-game handshake guidelines to allow coaches who wish to go through the player line to do so. The rule will now read: “Coaches shall exchange handshakes and remain on the ice or at their respective bench areas until the conclusion of the player handshake.”

–Possession and control. The committee added wording in this area to assist officials and teams to understand control of the puck, particularly in delayed penalty situations. The wording will read: “The last player to touch the puck, other than the goalkeeper, is the last player to be deemed in possession of the puck. Control of the puck is defined as the act of propelling the puck with the stick, hand or skate.

Possession and control is not a rebound off the goalkeeper, an opposing player, the goal or the boards or any incidental contact with the body or equipment of an opposing player. Batting the puck with the hand or kicking the puck is considered to be controlling the puck. Touching the puck (e.g., poke check or deflection) is not considered control of the puck.

During a delayed penalty, a goal may not be scored by the penalized team as a result of a deflection off of a penalized team player.”

–Two referee, one linesman. The committee added officiating diagrams to the rules book for this system. Previously, only the one referee, two assistant referee system had mechanics in the book for officials.

–Experimental rule. The committee reviewed a request from the University of Michigan to allow the school to use an experimental rule in exhibition games. The proposal would change the attacking zone boundary from the blue line to the center ice red line after the traditional zone is gained legally. So, if the attacking team gains the traditional attacking zone legally under current rules on side, the attacking zone expands to include the space between the blue line and the center ice red line.

The committee approved the proposal and extended the option to any school or conference that would like to try this in exhibitions, not just Michigan.

This article original appeared in the NCAA News

Ty Halpin is the NCAA liaison to the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee and was a member of the last USCHO Town Hall Meeting Panel in Columbus