Illegal Hit

In continuing efforts to minimize the risk of injury in the sport, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Ice Hockey Rules Committee approved changes that will strengthen the language for dangerous hits as well as give game officials discretion for issuing a game disqualification when a player illegally hits another player from behind.


Rule 6-7-2 states, “No player shall push, charge, cross-check or body-check an opponent from behind into the boards or goal frame,” and a violation would result in a major and misconduct penalty or — if flagrant — game disqualification.

Rule 6-7

ART.2…No player shall push, charge, cross-check or body check an opponent from behind into the boards or goal frame. PENALTY: MAJOR and MISCONDUCT or if flagrant, GAME DISQUALIFICATION

Rationale: The infraction is no less serious, with an immediate tough penalty, but reinstates officials’ discretion for issuing a game disqualification.

The checking-from-behind change was one of four major rules revisions approved by the committee at its April 22-23 meeting in Indianapolis. The changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“Checking from behind is the most dangerous act in the sport,” said Dan Schuster, NFHS assistant director of coach education and staff liaison to the Ice Hockey Rules Committee. “With all of its rules changes, the goal of the committee is to minimize the risk of injury.”

In another risk-minimization change, Rule 6-41-3 now states, “No player shall deliver a check to an unsuspecting and vulnerable player.”

Rule 6-41

ART. 3… No player shall deliver a check to an unsuspecting and vulnerable player. PENALTY: MINOR. If flagrant, MAJOR or GAME DISQUALIFICATION must be assessed.

Rationale: This is a risk minimization issue addressing late and unnecessary body contact. The goal is to eliminate “blind side” hits from the game and stress legal body checking.

This addition was implemented to eliminate blind-side hits from the sport as well as to stress legal body-checking. “This helps protect the defenseless player,” Schuster said. “The committee is striving to take these dangerous and unnecessary hits out of the game.”

In the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play, the committee elected to institute Rule 6-42-1 and 2, which prohibits the embellishment of acts in an attempt to draw a penalty through any exaggerated or deceitful actions or to attempt to worsen an already called penalty. The infraction for both is a minor penalty call.

“Some kids are putting themselves in position where it looks like they get checked from behind, when in fact, they are merely attempting to draw a major penalty,” Schuster said. “The committee wants to eliminate these acts from the game.”

Rule 6-42

Rule 42 – Embellishment ART.1… A player shall not attempt to draw a penalty through any exaggerated or deceitful action. PENALTY—MINOR. ART.2…A player who has been fouled shall not exaggerate the impact of the foul. An embellishment penalty may be called in conjunction with an opponent’s penalty. PENALTY—MINOR.

Rationale: In the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play, embellishment and “dives” are to be penalized. In order for the change of culture to occur in hockey, these acts need to be eliminated, as they are gimmicks to create a penalty situation.

The final rules change dealing with risk minimization is Rule 3-3-5. The rule now includes a goalkeeper’s glove as being a piece of equipment that, if it becomes displaced, requires play to be immediately stopped.

Rule 3-3

ART.5… If a goalkeeper’s mask,or helmet or glove is displaced, play shall be immediately stopped.

Rationale: Risk minimization issue. This adds to the language that play shall be stopped when the goalkeeper’s mask or helmet is displaced.

Also, the change to rule 5-2-3, that was adopted last season, requiring all on-ice officials to wear a half shield takes effect this season

Rule 5-2-3

Effective for the 2013-14 season – The on-ice officials shall be dressed in black trousers, an official’s sweater and a black HECC-certified ice hockey helmet, with a half face shield which meets the HECC certification at the time of manufacture and chin strap fastened. They shall be equipped with whistles. The referees in the three-official or four-official system shall wear arm bands.

* Major rules changes are listed above. All changes, including those of editorial nature, will be highlighted within the 2013-14 NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Book.