League Policies & Rules

Situational FAQs

A team arrives with only five players, but is willing to play the entire game shorthanded. Should the game be played?

No. See Rule 201 Composition of Teams. A team is defined as having six players. If a team cannot put six players on the ice at the start of the game, or if a team is reduced to less than four players due to injuries or penalties, the team is not considered a "team" and must forfeit the game.

Is a team allowed to play with six players and no goalkeeper?

Yes. See Rule 203 Players in Uniform. In the NCWHL, you can opt to play the game with no goalkeeper. However, the additional player does NOT receive goalkeeper privileges.

In the course of making a substitution and while play is in progress, the puck accidentally strikes the player entering the game while the retiring player is still on the ice. Has the infraction of the rules occurred?

No. See Rule 205 Change of Player. If the puck accidentally strikes either players in the process of a change, play must continue without a penalty, provided that the player who was struck by the puck makes no attempt to play the puck until the player change is complete.

The Referee stops play for an apparent injury to a player. If the player recovers, and she is not injured, can she remain on the ice?

No. See Rule 206 Injured Players. When the Referee stops play because she believes an injury requires attention, but there ends up being no injury, the rule still applies. The injured player, that is the player that caused the referee to blow her whistle for stoppage of play, must leave the ice.

A player loses her helmet, and/or facemask during play. What options does she have?

The player must replace the lost equipment immediately. See Rule 304 Protective Equipment. A player must replace the lost equipment before getting further involved in play or must skate directly to the bench. For a violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be imposed. Also, a player MUST wear her helmet while seated on the bench, in the penalty bench, or near the playing ice surface. The Referee shall give the player an initial warning for a violation of this rule. If the behavior persists and the equipment is not replaced, a 10-minute misconduct shall be issued to that player. If the player momentarily removes her helmet to wipe out the facemask, or adjust a strap, etc.; this is okay. This adjustment must be brief and not prolonged.

A player is assessed a minor penalty for tripping and does not proceed immediately to the penalty bench because she is disputing or challenging the call with the Referee. Should any additional penalties be called?

Yes. See Rule 601 Abuse of Officials and Other Misconduct. In addition to the original tripping penalty, the player must be assessed a minor penalty for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. A misconduct penalty for failure to proceed directly and immediately to the penalty bench would also apply in similar situations, except those involving a player who is not proceeding directly to the penalty bench clearly because she is protesting the call of a Referee.

A goalkeeper or player bangs her stick on the glass after a disputed goal. Is a penalty assessed?

Yes. See Rule 601 Abuse of Officials and Other Misconduct. Any time a player or goalkeeper bangs or breaks her stick on the glass, boards or goal posts, she must receive a misconduct penalty. If the player does this in protest of an official's decision a minor and a misconduct penalty shall be imposed.

May a player on the ice carry two sticks, one which was obtained from the her bench, so that she can give one to a teammate who has lost or broken her stick?

Yes. See Rule 605 Broken Stick. As long as the player does NOT participate in the play, she may carry a replacement stick to a teammate. If she does participate in play, she will be given a penalty for playing with more than one stick. Also, a player on the penalty bench may not hand her teammate a stick if hers is broken, nor may anyone on the bench throw a stick across the ice to a player whose stick is broken.

What does the word "participate" mean when referring to a player who participates in play with a broken stick?

Participate shall mean playing or attempting to play the puck, an opponent, or continuing in any action that directly affects the play. See Rule 605 Broken Stick. A player can carry her broken stick to the bench only if she is in the immediate vicinity of the bench when the stick is broken, if she is completely out of the flow of the game, and if she does so quickly and promptly. If, on the other hand, a player has to skate a long distance to get to her bench (e.g. from one end of the ice to the other), she must drop the stick at once or shall be penalized for her actions. If the player is completely unaware that her stick is broken, the on ice officials and her teammates should verbalize as much as possible to bring to her attention that she has a broken stick. The Referee shall give a certain amount of latitude to that player, but the player is ultimately responsible for her actions on the ice. The intent of the player who is carrying the stick and the safety of all players shall always be the determining factor when making this judgment.

A player, taking a face-off, although on side, is deliberately delaying getting set for the face-off. Should the Official conducting the face-off, after a short time, drop the puck with only one of the players ready?

Yes. See Rule 613(d) Face-Off Procedures. The Official will exhaust every possibility in an effort to get the player to line up. But if the attempt is obvious, the Official has the right to drop the puck to get play started. If the player persists in this behavior, the Official can opt to throw the player out of the face-off circle, asking for a replacement center, or charge the player with a minor penalty for Delay of Game.

Which team's center must place the stick first on the ice for any face-off conducted at the center ice face-off spot?

The visiting team's center must place her stick on the ice first. See Rule 613(d) Face-Off Procedures. In all face-offs not conducted along the center red line, the attacking team's center must be the first to place her stick on the ice. The player does not have to have the entire blade of the stick on the ice, but need only have a part of the blade on the ice for the face-off.

The puck is in the goal crease. A defending player, lying on the ice outside the crease, places her hand on the puck and pulls it out of the crease and into her body, thereby causing a stoppage of play. Does this situation call for a penalty shot?

Yes. See Rule 614 Falling on the Puck and Note. The location of the puck at the instant it is covered or held is the determining factor as to whether or not a penalty shot is to be awarded. If the player bats or scoops the puck out of the crease and into her body, only a minor penalty would be assessed to the player so doing.

Should a player be given a penalty who accidentally hits her opponent over the head with her stick as she is falling to the ice.

Yes. See Rule 621 High Sticks. The player must be assessed a high sticking penalty, even if she has just been shoved down by a player(s). Such players are still expected to have their sticks under control at all times.

The puck is shot from the behind the blue line (red line for upper intermediate and advanced divisions) and continues toward the opposing team's goal line. An opposing player coasts toward the puck or turns away before the puck crosses the goal line. Is icing still in effect?

No. See Rule 624 Icing the Puck and Note. The opposing team must make every effort to play the puck before it crosses the goal line. Icing shall be nullified should the Official feel the opposing team (except the goalkeeper) was able to play the puck.

A player has both skates completely in the Attacking Zone the instant the puck completely crosses the blue line. Is she off-side?

Yes. See Rule 630 Off-Sides. It is the position of the player's skates at the instant the puck enters the Attacking Zone that determines off-sides.

A player is playing the puck along the boards with her skates or stick, but not advancing the puck in an attempt to obtain a stoppage. What should the Referee do if it continues?

Initially the Referee should verbally alert the player to advance the puck. If, after approximately three seconds, no attempt has been made to advance the puck, the Referee shall stop play and assess a minor penalty for delaying the game. See Rule 632(b) Puck Must be Kept in Motion and Rule 610(a) Delaying the Game.

For a slashing penalty to be assessed, must stick contact be made with the opposing player?

No. See Rule 634 Slashing. If the object of a slashing motion is to intimidate an opponent or to actually try to strike her, stick contact need not be made in order for a penalty to be assessed. Any time a player maliciously or recklessly slashes an opponent's stick, the major penalty must be assessed.