2021-22 High School Ice Hockey Rules Changes Highlighted by Increased Safety for Displaced Skate Blades
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Dan Schuster
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 13, 2021) — To maintain the health and safety of goalkeepers, game action will now be stopped in the event a goalkeeper’s skate blade is broken or becomes displaced on the ice surface.
This new clause, which was added to Rule 3-3-5, is the most significant of the rules changes recently proposed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Ice Hockey Rules Committee. The Committee’s annual rules meeting was held April 26-27 in a virtual setting and produced three suggested rules changes that were all subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
“The committee deserves a lot of credit for its work during its annual meeting, but even more so for the good work it has done the past few years,” said Dan Schuster, NFHS director of educational services and liaison to the Ice Hockey Rules Committee. “The rules book is in a really good place and the committee continues to commit itself to improving high school hockey while minimizing the risk for participants.”
Breaking or losing a skate blade can render a goalkeeper incapacitated, which presents a highly dangerous situation similar to when a goalkeeper’s mask, helmet or glove is displaced. Adding language to include skate blades within Rule 3-3-5 helps minimize safety concerns for the goalkeeper, who may not be able to stand or properly defend against oncoming shot attempts when a skate blade is removed or broken. The rule change also removes potential hazards for other skaters maneuvering around the goal crease area.
The other alterations to the rules book involve two articles in Rule 8, Section 4 – fouls for “Falling On or Diving for the Puck” – being moved to other sections of the book for pertinence.
What was previously known as Rule 8-4-2 – “a player who leaves his feet to play the puck shall not make contact with his opponent” – has been moved to Rule 7, Section 16, which addresses “Tripping” infractions (Rule 7-16-3).
The former Rule 8-4-1, which explains the penalty for a player other than the goalkeeper picking up, throwing, covering or trapping the puck with the hands or body, is now associated with “Delay of Game” in Rule 8, Section 2 (Rule 8-2-7).
“The removal of the ‘falling on or diving for the puck’ section was a good change, as the two articles really belonged within tripping and delay of the game,” Schuster said. “These subtle changes create a better rules book that can be easily interpreted and implemented to improve the game.”
A complete listing of the ice hockey rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Ice Hockey.”
According to the most recent NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, more than 35,000 boys participate in ice hockey in 1,638 high schools across the country, and more than 9,600 girls participate in the sport in 642 schools.
Online link to article: https://www.nfhs.org/articles/2021-22-high-school-ice-hockey-rules-changes-highlighted-by-increased-safety-for-displaced-skate-blades/
About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,500 high schools and 12 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.9 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org.
Bruce L. Howard
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The WIAA Boy’s and Girl’s Hockey season is now underway. The impact of COVID is being felt as schools determine when, if not, whether or not their high school hockey teams can begin practice and competitions.
Below I have organized a couple of key notes from recent questions I’ve received for the awareness of hockey school administrators, coaches and officials as the 2020-21 Hockey season gets rolling:
Participation in Non-school programs until the WIAA Hockey season begins:
Friday, December 4, the WIAA Board of Control approved of a COVID accommodation allowing students to continue to participate in non-school competitions up until the start of in-person school team participation. This does not apply to teams that have begun in-person practices and later pause to quarantine. No school or school coach involvement will be permitted with the extended non-school opportunities.
The bullet points found below are our guidance as it relates to hockey facial coverings:
- Face coverings are required in hockey. This includes all times during active participation and all times during non-active participation.
- “Splash Guards” are allowed for use in WIAA Hockey games. No facial coverings are necessary when a splash guard is used.
- There are no provisions in the Executive Order for medical intolerance reasons or medical waivers. This is not an WIAA regulation, and thus the WIAA has no legal authority to waive or modify this Executive Order from the Governor’s office.
- Consistent with current Executive Orders, face coverings shall be worn by coaches, players, officials, medical staff, game event staff, media members and spectators. Everyone has to wear a mask while they are at an indoor ice rink and high school hockey game.
- In practice and training sessions this same guidance applies.
- Executive Order #1 guidance and rule does not define ‘facial coverings’ for purposes of organized sports. Traditional cloth masks, gaiters, affixed helmet plastic shields, and cloth/fabric helmet attachments located inside the face mask (all of which must cover the nose and mouth) would not be prohibited.
- Although the WIAA is not able to endorse any products, the WIAA will attempt to assist schools in understanding these requirements but know the WIAA has no authority to waive, ignore or modify Executive Orders for any reason.
- Once the Governor’s orders are lifted, our guidance states that athletes/officials may wear a mask while participating in exertion, but it is not required. All others, on-site, should be masked. Schools must follow their district policy and abide by their local health department mandates.
Enforcement of the Mask Policy by Players:
- Enforcement of the mask policy is a collaborative effort between School Administrators, Officials, and Coaches to enforce proper masking.
- Keep in mind, most players are wearing “Splash Guards,” so no additional facial covering is necessary.
- If a player(s) are not wearing splash guards or facial coverings, officials can decide not to work the contest.
- A player not wearing a splash guard or facial covering, or wearing it improperly, can be prevented from entering the contest until they are “properly equipped.”
- Per NFHS Rule 3-4-1, a TEAM WARNING can be issued, if players are on the ice and not wearing a splash guard or facial covering, or wearing it improperly for the first offense.
- Should further offenses occur, a MISCONDUCT, can be issued to the involved player.
- Preventative actions that can be taken include:
- Coaches must continuously address their players whose masks have come down or been pulled down, to secure their masks properly.
- Officials, make a statement to the group or individual players to “mask up.”
- Officials, make a statement to the coaches asking them to enforce the mask rule with their players.
- A linesperson may wait until all players are properly masked to put the puck back in play during a face-off.
- Officials may request a sub for any player who is not/will not mask(ed) properly.
- Game administration may stop a game to address improper masking.
- Games may be ended by Game Administration if proper masking cannot be accomplished.
- The Board of Control will revisit this in the upcoming weeks, to determine if further steps must be taken. It is necessary for all member schools, athletes, coaches, and officials to uniformly abide by the mask rules, so that the basketball season will not be in jeopardy.
COVID Handling Scrums against the Boards
- First players involved in the scrum should be allowed to attempt to dig out the puck.
- Whenever a second group of players arrives, officials should shut down play and blow their whistle to stop play.
- This helps reduce the risk of transmission of the virus on the ice, during play, from one player to another.
Reporting for the first day of hockey practice:
WIAA Sr. High School Handbook, page 334, Rules of Eligibility, Article VI, Section 1, A., 2), “A student who was a member of a school team in a given sport during the previous year may not delay reporting for the school team beyond the school’s official opening day of practice in order to continue non-school training or competition.” Please be certain that all hockey players who participated last year report for your first day of practice.
Yes—allowed. The school determines the start date for practices and the official start of your school’s sport seasons within the WIAA defined sport season. If a school delays the start of the season and virtual coaching opportunities, the students would be able to compete without limitations. Coaching contact would be restricted to the five additional coaching contact days that the Board provided out of season during the school year for Covid-19 relief.
For the winter, schools can choose to begin their seasons virtually with unrestricted school coaching contact. As allowed last spring, coaches can provide individual virtual instruction for student-athletes with training, conditioning, and skill development until the end of the respective winter sport season, which is the final day of the scheduled 2021 state tournament for the respective sport.
Once the school begins its official school sport season whether virtually or in-person, the student-athletes without school and/or coach involvement would be able to practice with a non-school club for practices without limitations, but would be limited to two non-school competitive events (this Covid-19 year, events may include multiple teams on multiple days).
Hockey Coaching Contact:
Coaches may not coach athletes that they will coach the next season out of season during the school year. Varsity and JV coaches may coach 8th grade and below up to the first day of 9th grade. This year, winter sport coaches were allowed five additional Unrestricted School Coaching Contact days prior to the week before the hockey season began. The only other exceptions are provided during the summer time regarding unrestricted school coaching contact and unlimited non-school coaching contact. Consequently, you are not able to coach high school students who will be on your high school team next year at this time—if you wish to coach that high school team next year. A coach who has illegal contact with a player they will coach during the school year outside of the allowed coaching contact periods becomes ineligible to coach that player the following year.
Contact to the Head:
NFHS Rules have now added language that distinguishes between direct and indirect contact to the head. In the current climate of sport, especially contact sports, it is very dangerous for an official not to call and assess the appropriate penalty when head contact occurs. Just like we had years ago with checking from behind, officials can end up taking on the responsibility/liability of a head injury when there is contact directly to the head and no penalty is assessed.
As described in NFHS Rule 7-6-2, “Direct contact occurs when the initial force of the contact occurs to the head or neck area.” The Penalty is a MAJOR or Game Disqualification. In direct contact as found in NFHS Rule 7-6-3 “occurs when the initial force of the contact begins below the neck and progresses upward to the head or neck.” The Penalty assessed is a MINOR. If flagrant, MAJOR or GAME DISQUALIFICATION.
In past years, I have seen players make contact to the head and neck area early in the game in an attempt to intimidate their opponents. If this type of contact occurs, officials need to set the standard early in the contest when this occurs and immediately apply the rule.
All the very best to each team during the weeks ahead.
Tom Shafranski, CAA
Assistant Director and Hockey Liaison