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NFHS Mandates Neck Laceration Protectors in High School Ice Hockey

Featured , Rules • May 16, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (May 16, 2024) — All high school ice hockey players playing under National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules will now be required to wear a neck laceration protector – in its original manufactured state and as intended by the manufacturer – during competition in the 2024-25 season.

This landmark new rule from the NFHS, along with four additional rules alterations, was proposed by the NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Committee as a product of its annual rules meeting held April 22-23 at The Alexander hotel in Indianapolis. All five rules changes were accepted by the NFHS Board of Directors and are effective with the 2024-25 season.

“The committee has done such great work the past several years, which has the rules in a really good place,” said Dan Schuster, NFHS director of educational services and liaison to the Ice Hockey Rules Committee. “After great discussion again this year, the committee made some changes that will help minimize risk for participating players and also add some clarity to the current language within the rules book.”

This NFHS rule mandate comes after the USA Hockey Congress approved legislation requiring the use of neck laceration protection for players in all age classifications, other than adults, in games and practices, as well as for on-ice officials under the age of 18, effective August 1, 2024.

NFHS mandating neck laceration protectors, which is detailed in the new Rule 3-4-4 in the NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Book, furthers its commitment to risk minimization and the health and safety of participants and aligns the national rules with the measures taken by many state high school associations and youth hockey leagues across the United States.

Should a player enter a contest without a neck laceration protector, or if it comes off during play, the player will be directed to the bench and may return to the ice once the apparatus has been properly affixed. In the event the player refuses to wear the equipment, play will be stopped, and the player will be assessed a two-minute minor penalty.

Corresponding changes were made to Rules 3-3-1 and 3-3-5 outlining proper neck laceration protector protocols for goalkeepers. In addition to requiring the new item, Rule 3-3-1 states that the neck laceration protector must be worn underneath and separate from the “flapper-style” throat protector attached to the bottom of the goalkeeper’s mask. Any modifications made to the piece of equipment will bring about a minor penalty. In Rule 3-3-5, which specifically addresses goalkeepers, the neck laceration protector is now included as a piece of “broken or displaced” equipment that will immediately result in a stoppage of play.

Clarifying the difference between “control” and “possession” of the puck was also a major priority for the NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Committee this year and is reflected in the new Rules 9-4-5 and 9-4-6. The following definitions were discussed by the committee over the course of multiple rules meetings and are being added to the rules book to correct any inconsistencies in their previous usage.

“Control” is defined in Rule 9-4-5 as:

“Control of the puck is the act of propelling the puck with the stick, hand or feet. Control of the puck is not lost when contact with the puck is made by an opponent, the boards or the net, provided the player in control of the puck continues propelling the puck.”

The definition of “possession” laid out in Rule 9-4-6 reads as follows:

“The last player to physically touch the puck with the stick or body shall be considered in possession of the puck. NOTE: A player can have possession of the puck without control but cannot have control of the puck without possession.”

Ice hockey is sanctioned in 18 of the 51 state associations (includes Washington D.C.): Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin.

A complete listing of the ice hockey rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at nfhs.org/activities-sports/ice-hockey/.

Topics

Neck Guard Neck Laceration Mandatory USA Hockey Ice Hockey Rules