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USA Hockey officials voted on several rule changes during the 2021 USAH Annual Congress. These rule changes adopted will be effective for the 2021/22 season through the 2024/25 season. Below is a summary of some of the key rule changes that were adopted by the USA Hockey Board of Directors. The full list of rule changes can be found HERE.
Reckless Endangerment – There were quite a few rule changes related to the concept of reckless endangerment. The current wording for a number of Rules requires a Game Misconduct when a player injures an opponent as a result of prohibited play. The changes adopted replace the reference in a number of rules from “injury“ to “recklessly endangers” or “reckless endangerment”. The idea is to remove from the official’s decision on the call a determination of whether an injury happened, and instead focus on whether the conduct recklessly endangers the opponent. The Rule Book Glossary was also amended to add a definition for “Recklessly Endangers”.
Minor Penalty Times (Rule 402) – The rule change prorated the length of minor penalties based on the length of the period for the game. The adopted proposal did allow Affiliates to continue 2 minute minor penalties for 14U and older age classifications.
Progressive Suspensions for Coaches (Rule 411) – Adds new language to the Progressive Suspension Rule that a coach receiving a second Game Misconduct during the season for abuse of officials is suspended for 3 games.
Abuse of Officials (Rule 601) – Rule 601 Abuse of Officials and Other Misconduct was totally rewritten incorporating the match penalty for racial and homophobic language.
Icing the Puck (Rule 624) – Under the current wording of Rule 624 Adults, High School and Youth/Girls 16U and above may ice the puck when playing shorthanded. The amended rule removes the ability to ice the puck while shorthanded for all Youth & Girls games and only allows Adults and High School players to ice the puck when playing shorthanded on a penalty kill. As a result of this change icing the puck while shorthanded in all Youth and Girls games will result in a whistle with the faceoff brought back to the zone of the short-handed team.
Off-sides (Rule 630) – Under the current wording of Rule 630 Adult, High School and Youth/Girls 14U and older play delayed off-sides. The amended rule requires that all Youth & Girls games go to immediate off-sides. High School teams will continue to play delayed off-sides.
Game Misconduct Penalty (Rule 401) - The game misconduct penalty for five penalties per player and 15 team penalties for a coach were changed to four per player 12 per team, per game. For 2021/22 season Youth, Girls and High School players who receives four penalties in a game will receive a Game Misconduct and a coach receives a Game Misconduct when the team receives 12 or more penalties during the game.
Standardized Discipline Policy for Match Penalties – The goal of this adopted proposal is to have some consistency across Affiliates in setting suspensions for Match penalties. Essentially this change to the Rule Book recommends the application of game suspensions of 6-10 games, 4-8 games and 3-5 games based on the specific level of Match Penalty called. The Affiliates and the penalized player have the option of going to a hearing to argue for a dismissal of the Match penalty or a different suspension where appropriate.
Standards of Play/Points of Emphasis – The Standards of Play for Body Checking and Restraining Fouls as well as the Points of Emphasis that will appear in the front of the 2021-2025 Rule Book were updated. The Body Checking Standard of Play makes clear that the purpose of a body check must be to gain possession of the puck and that the stick blade of the player delivering the check must be below the knees. The Points of Emphasis adds language on the strict enforcement of rules on abusive behavior including racial or other derogatory slurs directed at players, coaches and officials.