USA Hockey Rule Knowledge and Obscure Strange Hockey Rules

Click Here for the USA Hockey Rulebook and Here for the AHA Rules Addendum

Click Here to send an email to the Admin to ask a rule related question(s) that will be answered in the upcoming week.

Week #1

Rule 201(a) Composition of teams requires a team to be able to field at least 4 players on the ice at all times through either 3 skaters and a goalie or 4 skaters.  If at any time for any reason (penalties, injuries, short bench, etc) the team cannot put at least 4 people on the ice, the game must be declared a forfeit.  Example: 12 skaters and a goalie show up for the game for team white.  In the second period, team white has a bench clearing brawl that sends 10 people to the box.  Team White must forfeit because they cannot place 4 players on the ice.

Rule 203(d) requires each player to wear at least a 10inch (mites can wear 8inch) individually identifiable number from 0 to 99 on the back of their jersey.  So 2 and 02 are both valid numbers to have on a roster.  Three or more digit numbers are illegal numbers.  Any player wearing an illegal number cannot participate until they can wear a legal number.

Week #2

Rule 205(e) prohibits a goalkeeper to be allowed to skate to the bench during a stoppage in play without permission from the referee unless the goalkeeper is substituted by another skater or goalkeeper.  If the goalkeeper goes to the bench at any time during a stoppage in play without permission from the referee, the goalkeeper MUST be substituted by another player or goalkeeper until the start of the next faceoff.  The team may accept a Minor penalty for Illegal Substitution in lieu of the mandatory substitution.

Rule 304(a) requires a skater (excluding the goalkeeper) to immediately and properly replace their helmet if it should become dislodged.  If the skater attempts to participate in a play with an unsecure or dislodged helmet, that player shall be assessed a minor penalty for an equipment violation.  Any time the goalkeeper helmet is dislodged, an immediate stoppage of play is required.  So if you lose your lid, you must avoid the play.

Week #3

Rule 403(b) Non Coincidental Major Penalties that include Game Misconducts and Match penalties require a substitute to serve the 5 Minute penalty for the player who was ejected from the game, however, that player does not immediately need to proceed to the penalty box, however, a substitute must be placed in the penalty box during a stoppage before the expiration of the major penalty.  If no player is placed in the penalty box prior to the expiration of the penalty, the offending team must skate shorthanded (even though they are considered to be at full strength, so icing applies) until a stoppage in play where a skater must skate to the penalty box, step in, then immediately step out.  This is the only time where a couple of firsts in hockey can happen: 1. A team can be serving a penalty and not actually have anyone serving the penalty in the penalty box.  2. A team is being forced to be shorthanded, but is not considered to be shorthanded.

Week #4

Rule 626(f) states that a Delayed Offsides Signal can only be nullified when all attacking players in the attacking zone retreat and make simultaneous skate contact with the Neutral zone.  Any other action would result in the completion of the Delayed Offsides Signal.  Therefore, if a defenseman turns and shoots a puck into his own net with no pressure being applied by the attacking team, but during a delayed offside signal, the goal would be waved off.   No goal can be scored during a delayed offside, in fact, any time a shot on goal from outside the zone while attacking players are in the offensive zone is an automatic offsides and many times considered Intentional Offsides.

Week #5

Rule 629(c) states that a player beyond his on defensive zone shall not pass or carry the puck back into his own defensive zone for the purpose of delaying the game while his team is at full strength.  An infringement is a stoppage of play with the face off coming in the offending team's defensive end zone face off spot.  Seriously, has anyone ever seen this rule enforced?

Rule 623(b)  A Match Penalty will automatically be assessed for kicking or attempting to kick another player.  A Match Penalty is the most severe penalty in the rulebook and involves a 5 minute major, a game ejection from the current game AND an indefinite suspension from All USA Hockey play until a disciplinary board can review the case to determine proper disciplinary action. Don't kick people!

Week #6

Rule 625(i) If any player prematurely leaves the penalty box either through his own or scorekeeper error and his team scores a goal, that goal shall be disallowed.  However, any penalty assessed to that player while illegally on the ice will be assessed in the normal fashion.  So, if you are on the ice illegally, you can't score, but you can get a penalty.  You would go back to the box, serve your remaining penalty on top of any additional penalties you received.

Rule 637(b) This rule actually reads "The team scoring the greater number of goals during the three periods is determined the Winner". Uhhhh, duhhh.

Week #7

Rule 637(e) When a team uses their time out for the purposes of warming up a substitute or late arriving goalie, no more than 4 pucks can be used for that warm up session.  I'm sure this is a rule because some team once poured a hundred pucks all over the ice to warm up their goalie and it took 10 minutes to pick them all up.

Rule 639(c) This rule states what is required for a penalty to be a penalty shot when fouled from behind.  This shouldn't be obscure, but I have yet to find a ref who actually knows this rule and applies it correctly. There are 4 criteria in which a penalty becomes a penalty shot for a foul from behind.

  1. Player is in control of the puck and past their own defending blue line
  2. Player has no other opponent to pass other than the opponent's goaltender
  3. Is fouled from either behind or diagonally from behind (beyond the player's peripheral vision)
  4. The foul prevents a reasonable scoring opportunity.  Player does not get off a shot.

Note: If at any time the above occurs and the opponents goaltender has been pulled, then the penalty shot becomes an automatic awarded goal.


Week #8

Rule 502(i) States that when the referees are sick, missing or otherwise unable to perform their duties, the teams must agree upon acting referees for the game, one referee from the home team and one referee from the visiting team.  This would constitute of players from each team to act as the officials.  Note: AHA Rules Addendum Rule under Section 8 - Policy Guidelines supersedes this rule by stating No Game shall be played in the absence of a USA Certified referee, so no worry, the other team's players will not officiate your game.

Rule 614(e) States that no Goal may be scored from a deflection off an on ice official directly into the goal.

Week #9

Rule 611(k) When a stoppage of play in an end zone takes place and is followed by a gathering of players, no attacking player shall enter the end zone further than the outer edge of the face-off
circles nearest the blue line.  A violation of this rule will cause the face off location to be repositioned outside the attacking zone at the nearest Neutral zone face off spot.  Has anyone ever seen this called?

Rule 614(e) States that no Goal may be scored from a deflection off an on ice official directly into the goal.

Week #10

Rule 104(e) The goalkeepers may only take warm-ups in the
Goalkeeper's Privileged Area (Box Created by End Zone Faceoff Dots and End boards behind goal line)
For a violation of this rule, after a warning, the offending
team shall be assessed a bench minor penalty. This potentially has never been called.

Rule 611(b) states that any second violation of getting ejected from a face-off to the
same team during the same face off shall result a minor penalty for "Face-Off Violation" to the
player who commits the second violation of the Face Off.

Automatic Major (5 min) + Game Misconduct Calls
608(c) Butt Ending - Using the Butt End of the stick and striking a player
616(c) Head Butting
607(b) Checking from Behind causing a Head First Collision
613(a) Fighting
618(b) Holding or Grabbing the Facemask
625(b) Leaving Playing Bench during Altercation
634(a) Spearing - Stabbing with the Blade End
*Injuring a Player for a called Tripping, Checking, Boarding, Slashing, Charging, Crosschecking, High Sticking, Headcontact, Elbowing.


Check Back again next week for two more strange and obscure rules from the USA Hockey Handbook and the AHA Rules Addendum.