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NFHS 2021-22 Ice Hockey Rule Changes

HDA News , Rules • May 13, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (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 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.