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ATO - February 5, 2014

02/05/2014, 1:15pm MST
By Ask the Official

Question: During a game the referee sent one of our players to the bench for not wearing a mouthpiece properly. Later in the game another one of our players received a misconduct penalty for the same issue. Why did this become a penalty?

Rule 304(f) in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,
“All players, including goalkeepers, in the 12 & under (Youth and Girls’) through Youth 18 & under (including High School) and Girls’ 19 & under age classifications are required to wear a colored (non-clear) internal mouthpiece that covers all the remaining teeth of one jaw, customarily the upper. It is strongly recommended, in all classifications, that all players wear a mouthpiece form fitted by a dentist. For the first violation of this rule, the team shall be issued a warning. A misconduct penalty for an equipment violation shall be assessed to any player or goalkeeper of that team for a subsequent violation during that game.”

When the official notices that a player is not wearing a mouthpiece properly, the player is either sent to the bench (if missing) or told to insert it. The official should give a warning to the team bench at this point. Any player on that team that is not wearing a mouthpiece after the warning should be given a misconduct penalty.

This process is partially at the official’s discretion. A missing mouthpiece should always be addressed and/or penalized; however a mouthpiece that is not worn properly can be corrected without issue until repeated offenses cause the official to follow procedure. 

Question: Could you clarify the rules surrounding the use of a cat-eye goalkeeper facemask in both Juniors and High School?

Answer: Rule 304 in the USA Hockey Playing Rules mandates that all Youth and High School players must wear a HECC (Hockey Equipment Certification Council) approved helmet and facemask. HECC approval can be confirmed by looking for the valid sticker on the back of any helmet, and the certification is voided once the helmet is altered from original manufacture.

Junior level players who have reached 18 years-of-age may wear a non-HECC approved helmet or facemask provided they sign the proper USAH Waiver. This waiver must be kept on the bench during all games.

Question: During a power-play, the shorthanded team secures the puck and attempts to shoot the puck down the ice.  A coach was leaning over the boards with a stick to retrieve a player’s glove from the ice and the puck hit the stick/glove and stayed in the end zone.  It was obvious what the coach was doing and did not plan on holding the puck in the zone, but I blew the play dead and conducted the face-off outside the zone. Was this correct?

Answer: Rule 625(a) in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,
“A minor penalty shall be assessed to any player who interferes with or impedes the progress of an opponent who is not in possession of the puck (see Glossary). This includes the following actions which shall be penalized under this rule:

Any player on the players’ or penalty bench who interferes, in any manner, with the movement of the puck or any opponent on the ice while play is in progress.”

Since the coach committed the infraction, the referee should assess a Bench Minor penalty.

Question: What is the rule on coaches entering he ice to check on an injured player?

Answer: 629(d) in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,
“A bench minor penalty to the team, or a game misconduct penalty to the team official, or both, shall be assessed when any Team Official enters the ice surface after the start of the period and prior to its end without the permission of the Referee.”

That being stated, the referee should allow the coach to enter the ice surface any time a player appears to be injured.

Question: We were playing in a tournament this weekend and we had a ref tonight that not only made unfair calls against our players but also grabbed one of our 11 year-old players by the neck and dragged him down as he was going for a goal.

This same player has hardly ever received penalties in his five year hockey career and three of them were from tonight. When our coach requested the referee come to the bench the ref "fist pumped" and continued on. At the end of the game, the players and coaches from the other team went and " high fived" the ref.

I have never seen kids treated like that out on ice and it was VERY UPSETTING!!! More so than the refs costing us the game, the other team was brutal and did not receive any penalties.

We have two hurt players and some very hurt parents. I was told by a parent on the opposing team who apologized and said they didn't want to win that way, and that the ref is no longer allowed to coach at the high school because of this behavior!

There was an older lady sitting in front of me that also witnessed the entire event.

Answer: If an official is exhibiting behavior that conflicts with the USA Hockey Code of Conduct for Officials (found in the USA Hockey Rulebook) than the issue can be reported to your Local Assignor, Local Supervisor of Officials, or District Referee-in-Chief. These local representatives are in the best position to address these issues due to the rapport they have with Local Hockey Associations, Local Official Associations, and Officials. Contact information can be found by following your respective District link at the main Directory page of the Officials section of


Tag(s): ATO Archive