USA Hockey Rules

The NCWHL plays ice hockey using the USA Hockey rules for Women/Girls. The following sections represents the modifications that the NCWHL has made to the USA Hockey Rule Book. You are encouraged to review the USA Hockey Rule Book. Go to the USA Hockey website for the current version of the rulebook:


Zero Tolerance

In an effort to make ice hockey a more desirable and rewarding experience for all participants, USA Hockey has instructed the Officiating Program to adhere to certain points of emphasis relating to sportsmanship. This campaign is designed to require all players, coaches, and officials, team officials and administrators to maintain a sportsmanlike and educational atmosphere before, during, and after all USA Hockey sanctioned games. Thus, all On-Ice Referees must implement the following points of emphasis.


A minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct [Zero Tolerance] shall be assessed whenever a player:

  • Openly disputes or argues any decision by an official
  • Uses obscene or vulgar language at any time, including any swearing, even if it is not directed at a particular person.
  • Visually demonstrates any sign of dissatisfaction with an official’s decision.

Any time that a player persists in any of these actions, the player shall be assessed a misconduct penalty. A game misconduct penalty shall result if the player continues such action.

Coaches & Team Officials

A bench minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct [Zero Tolerance] shall be assessed whenever a coach or team official:

  • Openly disputes or argues any decision by an official
  • Uses obscene or vulgar language in a boisterous manner to anyone at any time.
  • Visually displays any sign of dissatisfaction with an official’s decision, including standing in the bench doorway with the intent of inciting the officials, players or spectators.

Any time that a coach or team official persists in any of these actions, a game misconduct penalty shall be assessed.


Officials are required to conduct themselves in a businesslike, sportsmanlike, impartial and constructive manner at all times. The actions of an official must be above reproach. Actions such as “baiting” or inciting players or coaches are strictly prohibited.

On-Ice Officials are ambassadors of the game and must always conduct themselves with this responsibility in mind. For more information, see Rule 601 – Abuse of Officials and Other Misconduct.


Rule 203: Players in Uniform

In addition to USAH Rule 203(d):

Players who have been issued league jerseys must wear the appropriate league jersey while on the ice and participating in a game (including warm-ups, intermissions and post-game handshakes). For a violation of this rule, the player will be assessed a 10 minute misconduct. Having served her penalty, she may then participate in the game provided she wears an appropriate league jersey. Goalies are exempt from this rule, but should wear an appropriate league jersey if her league jersey is not available.

Red Division players substituting in Green Division games must wear their red away league socks for easy identification.

Other substitute players may wear league jerseys of any color; they do not have to match the color of the division game.

NCWHL allows the use of three-digit (100-999) identifying numbers.
No player without goalie equipment shall be afforded any goalie privileges.


Rule 304: Protective Equipment

Elaboration of Rule 304(c):

All players must wear HECC approved hockey helmet and full face mask for all games, warm-ups and practices, including pickups and clinics. The helmet strap must be properly fastened at all times. On-ice coaches, clinic leaders and assistants do not need to wear full gear, but are required to wear a helmet.

In addition to the above, the NCWHL takes player safety seriously and expects all players to wear all recommended adult safety equipment, as outlined by USA Hockey in Rule 304(a).

In the Green divisions, the wearing of shoulder pads is mandated. In the Maroon and Blue divisions, the wearing of shoulder pads is recommended.

Goalies must also wear an HECC certified mask with chin strap, in addition to their goalie equipment. The NCWHL will not enforce the current size guidelines (e.g. 11″ pad width) for goalies that are using older goalie pads or gloves.


Rule 401: Penalties

Replaces USAH Rule 401(b):

Any player who is assessed eight or more penalty minutes in the same game shall be immediately ejected for the remainder of the game with no further suspensions. Exception: If the final penalty occurs within the last five minutes of a game, the player shall receive an automatic one game suspension.


Rule 405: Match Penalties

Replaces USAH Rule 405(c) and 410(c):

Any player receiving a match penalty for Attempt to Injure, Deliberate Injury to an Opponent, Fighting, or Head Butting shall be expelled from the NCWHL.

A player receiving any other match penalty shall receive a one game suspension and the case will be reviewed by the Board for further disciplinary action.

Players incurring a match penalty while substituting for another team shall serve any game suspensions at their next scheduled game(s) with their assigned team. Players cannot play in any NCWHL game until after the duration of their suspension.


Rule 410: Supplementary Discipline

Addition to USAH Rule 410(a):

All appeals must be submitted in writing to the NCWHL and will be considered by the NCWHL Board within 72 hours of the alleged incident.

Rule 501: Appointment of Officials

Replaces USAH Rule 501:

  1. The NCWHL shall appoint officials for each game. There shall be two referees and one scorekeeper. The league standard for officiating in the NCWHL is the “two-man” referee system. Therefore, each referee assumes the duties of both linesman and referee. The league, at its option may use the “three-man” system as prescribed by USA Hockey.
  2. All NCWHL on-ice officials shall be currently registered and affiliated with USA Hockey.

Rule 506: Official Scorer

Replaces USAH Rule 506 and 507:

The game scorekeeper shall be responsible for recording all goals, assists and penalties for a given game. Along with these duties, the scorekeeper shall run the time clock at the game, and check that all penalties are registered correctly as well as informing a penalized player information on time served.


Rule 610: Delay of Game

In addition to USAH Rule 610:

Line changes that take too long as determined by the Referee are considered a delay of game and will be called. This penalty will result in a 2 minute penalty and a power play for the opposing team.


Rule 615: Fighting

Replaces USAH Rule 615:

The NCWHL is a non-fighting hockey league. Fighting in the NCWHL will result in expulsion from the league.


Rule 624: Icing the Puck

Modifies USAH Rule 624(a):

Icing will be called from the blue line for Green and Red divisions and from the red line for the Maroon and Blue divisions.


Rule 636: Time of Match

Replaces USAH Rule 636(a):

The maximum time allowed for a game shall be three 15 minute periods of actual play with a rest intermission between periods of one minute duration. At the referee’s discretion, some or all of the 3rd period may be converted to a running clock in order to ensure completion of the game within the specified time slot.


Rule 638: Tied Games

Replaces USAH Rule 638(a):

If, at the end of regulation play, the game results in a tie, an overtime period may be played if adequate time remains in the ice time slot. The overtime period shall consist of up to a 5 minute running-time sudden death period.