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Rebels’ Special-Teams Prowess Giving Rest of NAHL Fits

By Tom Robinson, 02/02/18, 1:45PM MST


Philadelphia’s penalty kill and power play have been key to their success

Joe Coombs can be forgiven if he was a bit stunned by the way February began for his Philadelphia Rebels.              

The North American Hockey League East Division leaders saw a three-goal lead get away in the third period of a 4-3 loss to the Northeast Generals on Thursday morning to begin a three-game weekend series that the Philadelphia- and Boston-based teams are completing prior to sports fans being occupied by a Super Bowl matchup between teams from those cities on Sunday.              

The Generals did all their scoring on special teams, something that is not easy to do against the Rebels, who started the day as the only team in the top three of the 23-team NAHL in both power-play and penalty-killing efficiency.

Even after the tough day, Philadelphia remains among the league’s best teams in just about every metric of special-teams play.               

“Everything up until today has been very good,” Coombs said in a phone interview after the game. “Our power play for the most part has been executing at a high level and our penalty kill has been competing, doing the little things to be successful, like clearing pucks 200 feet and blocking shots when necessary.              

“It’s a lot of those little things that don’t show up on the scoreboard where we’ve been very good.”               

Coombs was able to find production on the power play even early in the season when he stuck with three units while assessing the team.               

The Rebels (27-9-3-0) have had a dozen players score multiple power-play goals led by team scoring leader Aaron Maguyon, Jensen Zerban and Brandon Stanley with four each.             

Maguyon, a 19-year-old from Margate City, New Jersey, leads the team with 11 assists on the power play. Zerban, a 19-year-old Air Force commit from Elk River, Minnesota, has one of the team’s three short-handed goals.               

Ryan Patrick, Andrew Bellant and Adam Peck, who join Maguyon and Zerban as the team’s top five scorers, have all been effective on both the power play and penalty kill.               

Peck is one of the team’s most consistent penalty killers. Patrick has a short-handed goal. Bellant joins Maguyon and Zerban in double figures in points generated while on special teams.               

“Our penalty killing last week in particular, in the three games against Jersey, was absolutely fantastic,” Coombs said. “We’ve had 11 or 12 guys on both units who have done a really nice job.”               

The Rebels have outscored opponents by 17 goals while on special teams. The Fairbanks Ice Dogs are the only NAHL team to exceed that number.               

Philadelphia has been strong throughout all areas of special teams play. The loss to Northeast was just the third time this season that the Rebels allowed a short-handed goal.               

The Rebels are second in power-play percentage (26.1), second in fewest power-play goals allowed (20), tied for third in power-play goals (37) and, even after allowing three goals Thursday, fourth in penalty-kill percentage at 85.8.               

“When you’re killing penalties, you have to do the intangibles and outwork them,” Coombs said. “I think our penalty-kill forecheck is a key. Like a lot of teams, if you don’t spend a lot of time in your zone, your penalty kill is better. The more time you spend in your zone, the more opportunities you’re giving up.               

“When we’re really playing well, we seem to deny entry and really make it tough for teams to set up.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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By USA Hockey Officiating Program 03/24/2023, 6:45am MDT

QUESTIONIs slap shots allowed in the 10U level?

ANSWER: Unlike during previous seasons, there are no longer any rules in the USA Hockey Playing Rules that prohibit slap-shots at any level.


QUESTIONIs it still tripping if the player is coming down the wing, gets his/her shot off (without impediment), and then a sliding defender (who was trying to block the shot/poke check the puck) takes the shooter's legs out?

ANSWER: Casebook Situation #3 under Rule 639 in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,

“A defending player leaves his feet and slides into the puck carrier. The defending player gains possession of the puck and the attacking player falls to the ice after being hit by the defending player’s body. Should a penalty be assessed?

Yes. Rule Reference 639Note 3 & (a).

When a player leaves his feet and slides into an opponent, thereby causing him to fall, a penalty for tripping must be called regardless of who gains possession of the puck. The only exception is when a player drops to his knees to block a shot and his momentum carries him into the player shooting the puck, causing him to fall. In that event, no penalty is to be assessed.”


QUESTIONIn a 3 referee game the referees don't see a possible head contact penalty and play continues. The offending team scores a goal, at the stoppage of play the linesman gives his account of what happened. The referees then place the offending payer in the box for 5 mins, is the goal allowed or disallowed.

ANSWER: Casebook Situation #7 under Rule 502 in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states:

“A Linesman has determined that a major penalty infraction has occurred unseen by the Referee and is waiting for the next stoppage of play to report to the Referee. The next stoppage of play occurs when the offending team scores a goal, whereupon the Linesman reports his version of the infraction. The Referee concurs that a major penalty should be assessed. What procedures does the Referee follow?

Disallow the goal and assess the penalty. Rule References 502(c) and 503(e).

Linesmen cannot stop play, but must wait for the first stoppage of play to report their version of the incident to the Referee.”


QUESTIONAre there any training materials for referees on how to recognize a concussion on the ice or any training on concussions at all?

ANSWER: All USA Hockey Officials are required to complete an online video module regarding concussions and player safety every three seasons, and additional information can be found at the Concussion Information webpage at

With that being said, officials are not trained medical professionals and they spend no time around the players outside of the game which means they have no behavior baseline to measure symptoms against. Therefore, game officials have extremely limited responsibility with determining whether a player should leave the game. The game officials are required to bring any potential “red flags” they notice to the team bench and the decision regarding removal, treatment and returning rest with the team coaches and parents.


QUESTIONTeam B pulls their goalie with a minute left in the game. Team A ices the puck, but it deflects of the goalpost of Team B and crosses the line (not into the net), is icing enforced, or is it waived off?

ANSWERRule 624(a) in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,

“When a player of a team shoots, bats with the hand or stick or deflects the puck from his own half of the ice completely beyond the goal line of the opposing team, play shall be stopped and a face-off shall take place at an end zone face-off spot in the defending zone of the offending team

(Note) If a team ices the puck during a delayed whistle as a result of a foul committed by the opposing team, the ensuing face-off shall take place at a neutral zone face-off spot nearest the defending zone of the team icing the puck.

However, if the puck has entered the goal as a result of a legal action by the team shooting the puck, the goal shall be allowed.”

Furthermore, Rule 624(b) states,

“Icing shall be nullified if any of the following conditions have been met:

-  (For Adults [male and female], High School and Youth/Girls' 16 and Under age classifications and above only) The offending team is shorthanded (below the on-ice numerical strength of their opponent) when the puck is shot. The determination is made at the time the penalty expires and if the puck was shot prior to the penalty time expiration, regardless as to the position of the penalized player, no icing shall be called.
-  The puck is shot by an attacking player and rebounds off of the body or the stick of a defending player on their defensive half of the center red line.
-  The puck travels the length of the ice as a result of either player participating in a face-off.
-  The puck touches any part, including stick, skates or body, of an opposing player prior to crossing the goal line.
-  If, in the opinion of the Linesman, an opposing player – except the goalkeeper – has an opportunity to play the puck, and has not done so, prior to the puck crossing the goal line.”


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