The 2021-25 USA Hockey Playing Rule change process was concluded on June 12, 2021 during the Board of Directors Meeting at Annual Congress. The following are a few of the major rule changes taking effect starting September 1, 2021.
Calls for a player to be assessed a game misconduct after 4 penalties in the same game and a coach receiving a game suspension when team accumulates 12 penalties during same game.
For periods 12-minutes or less the minor penalty length shall be 1:00. The minor penalty time shall be 1:30 for more than 12 and less than 17-minute periods and 2:00 for periods 17- minutes in length or greater.
Updates major penalty language to reflect changes that require a game misconduct penalty to be assessed with major penalties.
Adds new (c) that establishes progressive suspensions for coaches who receive their 2nd game misconduct for Abuse of Officials in same season (3 games) and 3rd game misconduct for Abuse of Officials in same season (suspended until hearing).
Adds in specific language pertaining to banging the boards on the bench that identifies doing so to celebrate a legal or illegal body check is deemed to be unsportsmanlike conduct.
Adds vaping to actions deemed prohibited under this rule and replaces bench minor with a game misconduct penalty for violation.
Eliminates restriction on slapshots at 10 & under age classification and below.
Prohibits all Youth levels of play to legally ice the puck during shorthanded situations. Only exceptions are High School and Adult classifications.
Eliminates tag-up offside at all Youth levels of play. Immediate offside is now applied at all levels except High School and Adult classifications.
Clarifies the penalty options to be assessed for a player who swings their stick during an altercation.
Adds new sub-section (f) that specifies a goalkeeper shall be penalized for body checking an opponent.
Late Body Check
Adds new Glossary definition for “Late Body Check” and is defined as: A late check is when a player delivering the check has an opportunity to avoid contact, or minimize contact, once it is realized the opponent no longer has control of the puck. The concept of “finishing the check” is an unacceptable action as it is one that is meant to intimidate or punish the opponent with no intent, or possibility, to gain possession of the puck. The responsibility is on the player delivering the check to avoid forceful contact (minimize impact) to a vulnerable or defenseless player who is no longer in control of the puck.
Contact with the Puck
Establishes first level of involvement with the puck as “Contact with the Puck” and is defined as: The last skater or goalkeeper to have touched the puck (puck touch). This includes a puck that is deflected off a player or any part of their equipment.
Possession of the Puck
Establishes 2nd level of involvement with the puck as “Possession of the Puck” and defined as: Placing your stick on the puck in an effort to establish control or to deliberately direct the puck with any part of the body. The last player to have intentionally played the puck is considered to have “possession of the puck.” A player may be in “possession of the puck” without establishing “control of the puck.” However, a player must first gain “possession of the puck” prior to being considered in “control of the puck.” A player considered to be in “possession of the puck” is NOT eligible to be body checked and/or engage in competitive contact. A skater attempts to gain “possession of the puck” by using the stick, and then body, in an effort to establish “control of the puck” or prevent an opponent from maintaining or gaining “control of the puck.” A skater considered to be “attempting to gain possession of the puck” is eligible to body check an opponent in “control of the puck” and/or engage in competitive contact.
Control of the Puck
Establishes 3rd level of involvement with the puck as “Control of the Puck” and is defined as: The skater or goalkeeper that, in the opinion of the official, has “possession of the puck” and is guiding the puck in any desired direction. “Contact with the puck” is not considered “control of the puck.” A player in “possession of the puck” may also immediately establish “control of the puck”. A skater considered to be in “control of the puck” is eligible to be body checked and/or engage in competitive contact.