610 – Delaying The Game

When a goal post has been displaced intentionally, does the Referee or Linesman stop the play?

Any of the On-Ice Officials may stop play, but only the Referee may assess the penalty. Rule Reference 610(e).

Regardless of the intent of the player, the play must be stopped immediately if the goal post is displaced.

615 – Fighting

Can a major penalty for roughing be assessed in order to avoid the automatic game misconduct penalty required when a fighting major penalty is assessed?

No. Rule References 615(a) and 640(a).

The Referee has a great variety of penalties to call to differentiate various degrees of participation in an altercation. However, a major penalty for roughing can only be assessed for body checking an opponent after the whistle has blown or for a late avoidable body check.

The Referee should not attempt to manipulate the rulebook. A game misconduct was added to the fighting major penalty for a specific reason and has been in effect for many years now. Regardless of a Referee’s personal opinion about a rule, he is expected to apply the rules within their spirit and intent.

Failure to do so results in the compromised integrity of the game and a loss of credibility for the officials.

304 – Protective Equipment

All players, including goalkeepers, in all age classifications below Adults, are required to wear a facemask certified by HECC, plus any chin protection that accompanies the facemask.

(Note) Any helmet or facemask that is altered except as permitted in Rule 304(c) shall be deemed to be illegal equipment and shall not be allowed to be used in a game. The player, or such equipment, shall be removed from the game until corrected. (This shall include helmets from which a part has been cut or removed, facemasks from which the chin-cup has been removed or any other such alterations from the original manufacturing specifications.)

By now,  you should have received an email from USA Hockey entitled “Stronger Penalty For Hate Language”. If you can’t find it in your Inbox, check your Spam folder.
Hateful, discriminatory, and offensive language have no place in our sport (or any sport for that matter). Per the directive from Jim Smith, we are to swing the biggest hammer we have – the match penalty – when we hear such language. The goal is to eradicate such behavior. The best way to do so is by penalizing those actions aggressively and with zero tolerance.

If you do not hear such language, but it is reported to you, you must file a game report .Since a penalty was not assessed, use the “Other Incident Report” entry at the very bottom of the Rule Reference field in the form.When filing a game report for this kind of language, it will be important to communicate exactly  what was said. In your report, do not soften or censor the words that were spoken.

Be aware that when you issue a match penalty, the player is suspended from all USA Hockey activity, including practices and team functions until there is a hearing or until 30 days have elapsed. To that end, make sure you penalize appropriately for the language you hear.

Language that is clearly unacceptable in society, is particularly heinous, or is hateful and discriminatory should incur a match penalty.
Language that is abusive, but does not rise to the level of hateful, discriminatory, or heinous can still be penalized with a bench minor, misconduct, or game misconduct (continued conduct) per 601b2, 601b3, 601c1, 601c2, and 601e1.
From www.usahockey.com/news_article/show/1061121

*COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.*– USA Hockey announced today a presidential directive that changes the penalty for racial/derogatory slurs of any kind that fall under Rule 601 (e. 3) from a game misconduct to a match penalty.
“We continue to get reports of disturbing incidents of racial and other derogatory slurs, behavior which is reprehensible and has absolutely no place in our game, especially around our children,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “For reasons I cannot explain or understand, the current penalty in place does not seem to be enough of a deterrent to stop this type of conduct.”

403 – Major Penalties

The Referee assesses a minor penalty to a player and it is announced as such. Before the ensuing face-off he decides that the situation warrants a major penalty to be called instead of the minor penalty. Should he change the minor penalty even though it has already been announced?

Yes. Rule Reference 403(a).

Even though this is a situation that the Referee must try to avoid, he is still required to change the call. The Referee has an obligation to get the call right, whenever possible, and take the time when making this type of decision to improve his chances of doing so. Potential criticism by the offending team for changing the call is not a valid reason not to do what is right.

612 – Face Off Locations

A stoppage of play in the Defending Zone was caused by a defending player and the Official assessed the defending team a penalty. Subsequently, during the same stoppage of play, an attacking player is assessed a penalty. Where is the ensuing face-off?

At the nearest Neutral Zone face-off spot. Rule Reference 612(c).

The stoppage of play was not caused by the actions of players from both teams for the purpose of establishing a last play face-off. The penalty by the attacking player causes the face- off to occur at the nearest Neutral Zone face-off spot.

108 – Timing and Signaling Devices

The horn sounds to end a period; however, the clock shows two seconds remaining. Is the period over?

Yes. Rule Reference 108(e).

Whenever the timing device is equipped with an automatic sounding alarm that signifies the end of a period, the “sound” shall be considered the end of the period, even though the clock may show minimal time remaining.

There has been a little confusion and mis-application of these points of emphasis, and we wanted to take the opportunity to hopefully clarify a little and get these videos to you again for your review. This video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JifeJMApfQU does a really good job of breaking it down, take 5 minutes out of your day to watch!

A body check must an attempt to win possession of the puck, and not an effort to punish, intimidate or take advantage of a vulnerable or unsuspecting opponent.

Finishing the check is no longer permitted, after the player has released the puck they are no longer ‘eligible’ to be hit.

The player delivering the body check must do so with their stick on the ice or below the knees and make an effort to play the puck (this does not mean that they have to play the puck first, just that they need to make an effort to play the puck before, during or after the check, they can’t “just hit the guy”)

USA Hockey is committed to creating a safe and fair environment for all participants. Respect for the game, opponents, coaches, and officials is a critical part of that environment and it covers several different aspects of sportsmanship and fair play. This Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect will guide a change in culture as to what is considered to be acceptable/unacceptable body checking and competitive contact at all levels of play.

The Declaration clarifies and updates existing rules/definitions to emphasize the key points to more clearly outline what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Below is a video that shows examples of actions deemed “acceptable” and “unacceptable” to help illustrate expected behavior.

We would suggest that when you introduce yourself to the coach prior to the start of the game, that you take the opportunity to ask the coaches if they are familiar with the Points of Emphasis for this season.

A suggested script may look like:
Hello coach, my name is . Have you watched the video on the Points of Emphasis for this season?
YES – Great! Do you have any questions or concerns about what we will be looking at today?
NO?! – Well, you really should take a look it’s a pretty good video that describes what is acceptable and what is not. We’ll do our best to help your players through and explain calls as best we can, but we’re going to need your help here.

The full text and video can be found at: www.usahockey.com/declaration
However, the Michagan Amatuer Hockey Association <www.maha.org/> has put together a shorter version of the video that can be viewed below or via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JifeJMApfQU

The USA officials registration season has been in swing for a month and a half.. Please note and spread the word to anybody who might be interested in becoming an official…

With that – All registration requirements now must be completed by March 15 the following year, although your current card/crest is still good until November 30.

Here are the seminar dates and they are all posted on https://usahockey.com/officialseminars

Aug. 1 – Level 3 – Canton
Aug. 10 – Level 1 & 2 – Canton
Aug. 20 – Level 3 – Shrewsbury
Aug. 24 – Level 1 & 2 – Shrewsbury
Aug. 25 – Level 1, 2 & 3 – Agawam
Sept. 7 – Level 1 & 2 – Andover
Sept. 10 – Level 3 – Andover
Sept. 18 – Level 4 – Marlboro
Sept. 21 – Level 1, 2 & 3 – Hyannis

Note that Hyannis is the last seminar so if you miss it there is no make up. Canton is early and easy to get to if you want to get everything out of the way early.

You must register with USAHockey as an official (https://usahockeyregistration.com) before you can register for a seminar!

If you have any questions about registration of the upcoming season please reach out, and again if you know of anybody who might be interested in becoming an official please pass this along. With the early seminar dates we can not wait until hockey season starts to start recruiting officials.

In support of USA Hockey’s and the USOC’s efforts to create the safest environment possible for our players, Massachusetts Hockey has announced a new background screening procedure that will begin with the start of the 2019-2020 season.

As an affiliate member of USA Hockey, Massachusetts Hockey has always required local programs to conduct a CORI screen as part of their responsibilities. That has met the legal obligation of the state and has been an accepted practice with USA Hockey. Given the current climate and recent legal situations (see the Ropes and Gray Report regarding USA Gymnastics), it has become clear that we can and need to do more to ensure that our members are protected.

Massachusetts Hockey will be conducting a national-level background screen in addition to a CORI screen for any coach, volunteer or administrator who has “regular access to youth”, as defined by the Massachusetts state legislature. We are working with NCSI, one of the leading screening companies in the United States and the screening vendor used by both the USOC and USA Hockey. Significant research was done in an effort to determine how best to protect our youth players and also fund this initiative.

In the end, the Massachusetts Hockey Board of Directors voted to increase membership dues by $2.50 per member. This is the first dues increase for Massachusetts Hockey members in 8 years. In addition to their USA Hockey membership fees, members of Massachusetts Hockey will now pay $10.50 (ages 6-18) and $2.50 (ages 19 and up).

Upon registering with USA Hockey, Massachusetts Hockey members will be directed to register for their background screening. No coach or team manager will be allowed to be added to a roster until their background screen is complete and verified.

“The Massachusetts Hockey Board of Directors has embraced this opportunity to continue to be leaders in the youth sports world and are resolute in our desire to keep youth hockey one of the greatest youth sports opportunities in our state. A dues increase is never an easy topic, but for the price of a cup of coffee, we can make a significant step forward in reducing risk to our players while also meeting our obligations to USA Hockey.

I am sharing this information with you in order to be open and transparent about the reason for the dues increase. Rest assured, the money collected through this increase will remain earmarked for the purpose of background screening. We do not receive and assistance from USA Hockey for the screening process and as such, we are funding it with the goal of breaking even.

We thank all of our members for participating in the process and look forward to continued enjoyment of youth hockey in a safe and protected environment,” said John L. Tobin, Massachusetts Hockey president.

Massachusetts Hockey, Inc., is a not-for-profit tax-exempt organization which serves as the affiliate association of USA Hockey, Inc., and is the official governing body for the sport of hockey in Massachusetts. As such, its purposes and objectives are to develop, advance and encourage participation in the sport of hockey; to develop and encourage sportsmanship between all players for the betterment of their physical and social well-being; to develop and improve the standards of the sport; and to educate and train players, coaches, referees, managers, administrators and parents.

Original Post at MAHockey.org
Background Screening Website

As part of Hockey Week Across America, 18 NHL games in American cities will offer two young officials the chance to meet the NHL officials working the particular contest prior to the game and then stay to watch those NHL officials in action.

Special thanks to the Boston Bruins and the NHLOA for hosting Jack Hudson from MA and Dean Simpson from the NE District at the Bruins game on February 28th.

Pictured: Scott Driscoll, Mike Leggo, Marc Joannette, Kiel Murchison
Dean Simpson NE district Jack Hudson Ma district

  • Act in a professional and businesslike manner at all times and take your role seriously.
  • Strive to provide a safe and sportsmanlike environment in which players can properly display their hockey skills.
  • Know all playing rules, their interpretations and their proper application.
  • Remember that officials are teachers. Set a good example.
  • Make your calls with quiet confidence; never with arrogance.
  • Manage and help to control games in cooperation with the coaches to provide a positive and safe experience for all participants.
  • Violence must never be tolerated.
  • Be fair and impartial at all times.
  • Answer all reasonable questions and requests.
  • Adopt a “zero tolerance” attitude toward verbal or physical abuse.
  • Never use foul or vulgar language when speaking with a player, coach or parent.
  • Use honesty and integrity when answering questions.
  • Admit your mistakes when you make them.
  • Never openly criticize a coach, player or fellow official.
  • Keep your emotions under control.
  • Use only USA Hockey-approved officiating techniques and policies.
  • Maintain your health through a physical conditioning program.
  • Dedicate yourself to personal improvement and maintenance of officiating skills.
  • Respect your supervisor and his/her critique of your performance.

Q&A with Matt Leaf on the importance of game reporting

Published in Stripes – 1/11/2019

Everyone in hockey wants the game to be played within the rules. More importantly, they want those who fail to do so to be held accountable for their actions. 

As a result, USA Hockey has spent the past several seasons making appropriate consequences for the rule-breakers, including more severe penalties for dangerous actions and progressive suspensions for repeat offenders.

And while officials can’t prevent the dangerous action from occurring, they do play a significant role in holding accountable those responsible for these actions with proper rule enforcement. Not only that, but officials must fulfill their responsibility of submitting an accurate and timely game report through the USA Hockey Online Game Reporting System. 

STRIPES recently sat down with Matt Leaf, director of the officiating education program, to learn more about the game reporting process and to address some of the concerns he hears from affiliate disciplinary personnel on the reporting process and what officials can do better.

STRIPES: The Online Game Reporting System is in its fifth season, what are some of the areas where the system has helped the game?
Matt Leaf:
 When properly used, the system has definitely helped affiliates and local leagues manage suspensions and the disciplinary process. It allows for a consistent game-reporting format where the required information immediately gets into the hands of the proper authorities once submitted by the official. The system also provides a more user-friendly mechanism for the officials to file the report on their mobile devices.

One other benefit is, with better compliance in filing reports each season, USA Hockey can track certain infractions and identify any trends both geographically and by types of infractions.

STRIPES: How is USA Hockey looking to continue to improve the system and make it even easier for the officials?
 We are constantly receiving feedback from affiliate administrators and officials with suggestions, and all of that is taken seriously. In some cases, there are good ideas that we try to incorporate as soon as possible. In other situations, a bigger picture needs to be taken into consideration.

One main area that we are working on is the player search component and tying that into team rosters so officials can simply pull down the team roster to identify the player versus trying to narrow down an entire database. Doing so will greatly improve the accuracy of identifying the guilty player/coach and simplify the process for officials. 

The second area that is being worked on is the reporting side of things for administrators and making penalty data more readily available – basically simplifying their ability to manage hundreds of reports.

STRIPES: What is the official’s responsibility when it comes to submitting game reports?
 First and foremost, with the new progressive suspension rules, the official has to be timely in submitting reports so the system can identify any players/coaches who have reached a suspension threshold. Timely should be well within 24 hours of the game, but certainly no longer than 48 hours (the sooner part of this option being preferred).

Next, it is imperative that the official pays attention to details and provides accurate information in regards to the player(s)/coaches involved (e.g., the type of penalty assessed and the proper rule reference). There really is no excuse for an official to submit a report for clicking on a minor plus misconduct for head contact when in fact they assessed a major plus game misconduct. The correct rule reference is also important as it does play a role in the system’s ability to track repeat offenders.

STRIPES: That seems to be pretty critical information.  What are some other things officials need to know when submitting a game report?
 The most common mistake made is when an official submits a duplicate report (or maybe both officials submit a report) for the same incident. This creates problems because the system does not know it is a duplicate, so it counts it as two different strikes against the same player, even though it was only one infraction. Only one report (the officials can work on it together, if needed) needs to submitted for each incident.

Another common error is submitting multiple reports from the same game when, in fact, the system is designed to handle multiple incidents involving multiple players from the same game. Instead of starting over with a new report for each penalty assessed, the officials can simply do one report for the game and identify each incident separately in the one report.

Finally, officials have to know the rules and the consequences for the rules. Under Rule 411 (Progressive Suspensions), there is a full listing of infractions involving major penalties that require a report to be submitted. Each penalty also has to be listed separately. For example, a player gets a major penalty for slashing, and then later on, gets a major plus game misconduct for head contact. It’s not enough to simply submit a report assessing a game misconduct for the second major penalty in the same game. The report needs to have each penalty (slashing, head contact, game misconduct for second major) listed separately so the system can properly track the aggressive fouls and send out the automatic alert when a threshold is reached.

STRIPES: Any other final words of wisdom?
 USA Hockey wants players and coaches held accountable for their actions, whether it is for unsportsmanlike behavior or dangerous play outside the boundaries established the rules. This can’t be accomplished without the help of the officials properly enforcing the rules and submitting the appropriate game report when needed. 

Officials have a responsibility (in fact it is part of their duties) to properly submit accurate game reports when required.

Detailed instructions on filing game reports are available on USAHockey.com, and if unsure on something, ask your local supervisor or assignor. Paying attention to details in submitting a timely and accurate report will not only minimize confusion and having to answer questions later, but also will eliminate having suspensions overturned on technical issues and will, ultimately, hold those who tarnish the game with their behavior accountable for their actions.

Whether it’s Zach Parise’s work ethic or Patrick Kane’s puck skills, young players love emulating their favorite pro players. So if a young goalie has the chance to wear the same mask as world-renowned goalies such as Henrik Lundqvist, he or she will likely jump at the opportunity.

Unfortunately, certain masks could jeopardize their safety and their team. Cat eye masks, which gained popularity through their use by professional goaltenders, are illegal for youth and high school players. The masks lack certification by HECC (Hockey Equipment Certification Council) as required by USA Hockey because the larger eye openings expose young goaltenders’ eyes to stick contact.

An incident during this spring’s Stanley Cup Playoffs involving Lundqvist shows just how dangerous the masks can be: 

Since cat eye masks have been restricted at the youth levels, manufacturers have developed a modified cat eye mask which meets HECC standards and is approved for play.  The mask is considered safe for goalies to use, but they also create confusion between which masks can be used. The chart below outlines the three most common types of goalie masks.

Coaches, parents and referees are encouraged to educate themselves on the differences between the various types of goalie masks on the market. The safest way to find a legal mask is to look for a valid HECC certification sticker on the mask and helmet. 

Legal v. Not Legal