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Off-Sides

Situation 1

Which edge of the 12 inch blue line is the determining edge when considering whether or not a player is off-side?

The determining edge is the edge further from the zone in which the puck is located. Rule Reference 630(a).

If the puck moves from the Neutral Zone into a team’s Attacking Zone, the edge of the blue line closer to the Attacking Zone is the determining edge. Until the puck completely crosses the blue line, the 12 inch width of the blue line is a part of the Neutral Zone. However, the instant the puck completely crosses the blue line, the determining edge is reversed and the width of the blue line becomes a part of the Attacking Zone.

Situation 2

The attacking team is in possession of the puck in the Attacking Zone and the puck is passed back to the blue line. The puck stops on the blue line, then is shot back again. Has an off-sides infraction occurred?

No. Rule Reference 630(a).

The puck would have had to completely cross the blue line before being shot back into the Attacking Zone for an off-side to occur.

Situation 3

A player has both skates completely in the Attacking Zone the instant the puck completely crosses the blue line. Is he offside?

Yes. Rule Reference 630(a).

The position of the player’s skates at the instant the puck enters the Attacking Zone determines off-sides.

Situation 4

A player has one skate on the blue line and one skate in his Attacking Zone at the instant the puck completely crosses the blue line into his Attacking Zone. Is he off-side?

No. Rule Reference 630(a).

As long as the player’s skate is in contact with the Neutral Zone when the puck enters his Attacking Zone, he is on-side.

Situation 5

A player has both skates in the Neutral Zone and the stick in his Attacking Zone at the instant the puck completely crosses the blue line into his Attacking Zone. Is he off-side?

No. Rule Reference 630(a).

The position of the player’s skates at the instant the puck enters the Attacking Zone determines off-sides.

Situation 6

The puck is in the possession of the attacking team in the Attacking Zone. The puck is passed back to the blue line by an attacking player. The pass is received by a teammate on the far edge of the blue line (half on the line and half in the Neutral Zone), and then is shot on goal. Has an off-sides infraction occurred?

No. Rule Reference 630 (a Note).

The line is always a part of the zone in which the puck is located.

Situation 7

At the instant the puck completely crosses the blue line into the Attacking Zone an attacking player has his leading skate in the Attacking Zone. His trailing skate is directly above the ice in the Neutral Zone (off the ice). Is he off-side?

Yes. Rule Reference 630(a Note).

In order for the player to be on-side in this situation, he must have at least one skate in contact with the ice in the Neutral Zone, which in this instance includes the blue line, at the instant the puck completely crosses the blue line.

Situation 8

A player straddling the blue line falls to the ice while the boot of his skate remains in contact with the Neutral Zone. The puck crosses the blue line at the same time. Is he considered to be off-side?

No. Rule Reference 630(a).

The word “skate” in the Rule refers to the blade or the boot of the skate.

Situation 9

If the players’ bench has a door opening in the Attacking Zone, may a player entering from this door be considered on-side if the puck enters the zone after he steps onto the ice?

No. Rule Reference 630(a).

Such a player must be ruled off-side if the puck crosses the line while he is entering or leaving the ice and has at least one skate in contact with the ice surface at the time. Any player entering from the bench area into the Attacking Zone is considered as any other attacking player on the ice for the purposes of off-sides.

Situation 10

The puck is shot by a player from an end zone and is deflected out of the playing area by a teammate who is directly on his defending blue line. The ensuing face-off is correctly held at the point of deflection, on the blue line. Immediately after the puck is dropped, one of the attacking wings completely crosses the blue line into his Attacking Zone. The puck, after being dropped, remains on the blue line for an instant before the attacking center gains possession and shoots it into his Attacking Zone, the puck never having left the blue line prior to being shot. With the attacking wing in the zone prior to the puck completely crossing the blue line, has an off-side been created?

No. Rule Reference 630(a).

On any face-off conducted on a blue line, the Linesman must be aware of the zone the puck was in immediately prior to the stoppage of play and make any off-side judgment based on that knowledge.

In this case, the puck was shot from the end zone and was deflected out of the rink while still in the end zone. Therefore, when the face-off is held on the blue line, the puck must be considered to be still in the end zone and not in the Neutral Zone. Any potential off-side judgments must be made accordingly.

Situation 11

An attacking player with both skates over the blue line receives a pass from a teammate in the Neutral Zone. He stops the puck with his stick before the puck crosses the blue line. This player then puts one skate on the blue line, holds the skate on the line, and pulls the puck over the blue line while the skate is still on the line. Is he off-side?

No. Rule Reference 630(a Note).

The off-sides cannot be determined until the puck has completely crossed the blue line.

Situation 12

An attacking player crosses the blue line with the puck. He then brings the puck on his stick back out over the blue line into the Neutral Zone, while his skates are still in the Attacking Zone, and brings the puck back again into the Attacking Zone. Is he off-side?

Yes. Rule References 630(a & b).

Even though he maintains possession and control throughout the play, once he brings the puck back into the Neutral Zone he places himself in an off-side position, and as soon as the puck comes back into the Attacking Zone the play is off-side. A player in possession and control of the puck is permitted to precede the puck across his attacking blue line, but once the puck has initially crossed the blue line, this exception to the rule expires and the player may not continue to violate the basic off-side rule.

Situation 13

An attacking player, about to be caught off-side, jumps into his players’ bench just before a teammate crosses the attacking blue line with the puck. Has any off-side violation occurred?

No. Rule References 630(a) Note 2 and 205(a).

Provided the player jumped into his own players’ bench, no other rule violation has occurred. However, if the player jumped off the ice surface into any other part of the rink, and was substituted for, his team must be assessed a bench minor penalty for illegal substitution.

Situation 14

A defending player pushes an attacking player, who does not have possession of the puck, into the Attacking Zone just prior to the puck entering that zone. Is the attacking player off-side?

Yes. Rule References 630(a) and 625(a).

Even though the attacking player was pushed, the off-side infraction must still be called. If the push was severe enough, the Referee may elect to assess a minor penalty for interference.

Situation 15

An attacking player straddling the attacking blue line receives a pass on his stick in the Neutral Zone. He then brings the skate which was in the Neutral Zone over the line while the puck is still on his stick in the Neutral Zone. He then pulls the puck over the blue line. Is he off-side?

No. Rule Reference 630(b).

As long as the player receiving the pass has possession and control of the puck while at least one skate is in contact with the Neutral Zone, he can legally precede the puck into the Attacking Zone while he maintains possession and control.

Situation 16

A player with both skates over the blue line receives a pass from a teammate. He stops the puck with his stick before the puck crosses the line, then pulls it over the line with both skates over the line. Is he off-side?

Yes. Rule Reference 630(b).

The player receiving the pass must have possession and control of the puck with at least one skate in the Neutral Zone before he can legally precede the puck into the Attacking Zone.

Situation 17

A player carries the puck across his attacking blue line and is immediately forced to skate parallel to the blue line in such a manner that, while both skates remain in his Attacking Zone, the puck is stick-handled back across the blue line into the Neutral Zone. The player then brings the puck back into the Attacking Zone without contacting the Neutral Zone with a skate. Is he still on-side?

No. Rule Reference 630(b).

Even though he maintains possession and control throughout the play, once he brings the puck back into the Neutral Zone he places himself in an off-side position, and as soon as the puck comes back into the Attacking Zone the play is off-side. A player in possession and control of the puck is permitted to precede the puck across his attacking blue line, but once the puck has initially crossed the blue line, this exception to the rule expires and the player may not continue to violate the basic off-side rule.

Situation 18

If a player has possession of the puck in the Neutral Zone, turns around and skates backwards, and precedes the puck across the attacking blue line while still in possession and control of the puck, is he considered to be off-side?

No. Rule Reference 630(b).

As long as he establishes possession and control in the Neutral Zone before and while he crosses the line, play shall be permitted to continue.

Situation 19

An off-side is created when the puck is carried into the Attacking Zone. At which Neutral Zone face-off spot shall the ensuing face-off be conducted?

At the face-off spot closest to the location where the puck crossed the blue line. Rule Reference 630(c).

Situation 20

The puck is shot by a player from behind his defending blue line. A teammate who is already in the Neutral Zone skates down the ice and precedes the puck across his attacking blue line. Off-sides is called. Where does the face-off take place?

The puck is to be faced-off at the point of origin of the shot. Rule Reference 630(c).

Situation 21

The puck is passed by a player in the Neutral Zone to a teammate near his attacking blue line, but the puck is deflected by an opponent, thereby causing the receiving player to be over the blue line ahead of the puck. Play is stopped for the off-side. Where is the face-off held?

At the point of origin of the pass (regardless of any deflection by the opposing team). Rule Reference 630(c).

Situation 22

When the puck is batted with a high stick to a teammate who is off-side, what infraction takes precedence and where is the ensuing face-off?

The high stick infraction takes precedence and the ensuing face-off will take place at a Defending Zone face-off spot of the offending team. Rule References 630(c) and 621(c).

As a general rule, the more “serious” infraction is penalized.

Situation 23

The Linesman makes an obvious error as he stops play for an off-side at the blue line. Should the ensuing face-off take place at center ice?

No. Rule Reference 630(e).

The ensuing face-off should take place at the nearest Neutral Zone face-off spot

The following situations apply in classifications where both the delayed off-side and the “tag-up” (to nullify a delayed off- side) do not apply — Youth and Girls’ 12 & under age classifications and below.

Situation 24

An attacking player has both skates in his Attacking Zone. An opposing player has possession of the puck in the Neutral Zone. If the player in possession of the puck carries or passes the puck back into his Defending Zone while that attacking player is still in the zone, is the attacking player off-side?

No. Rule Reference 630(b).

Off-sides is nullified if the defending team carries or passes the puck back into their defensive zone.

Situation 25

A defending player shoots the puck into the Neutral Zone. It then deflects off another defending player in the Neutral Zone back into his Defending Zone while an attacking player is in the zone. Is the play off-side?

Yes. Rule Reference 630(b).

Any deflection, whether off a teammate, an opponent, an Official, or the boards or glass creating an off-side situation at the blue line, must be treated as such. The puck deflecting off a defending player is not the same as a defending player carrying or passing the puck back into his Defending Zone.

Situation 26

An attacking or defending player in an end zone shoots the puck into the Neutral Zone. The puck hits an Official in the Neutral Zone and deflects off the Official back into the end zone while an attacking player is still in the Attacking Zone. Where is the ensuing face-off?

At the point of deflection. Rule Reference 630(b).

Any deflection, whether off a teammate, an opponent, an Official, or the boards or glass creating an off-side situation at the blue line, must be treated as such. Officials must always strive to position themselves in such a manner that would allow the puck to leave the zone before striking them, thereby creating the off-side situation.

Situation 27

The puck is deliberately shot directly on goal by an attacking player in the Neutral Zone with a teammate clearly positioned in the Attacking Zone. What is the proper ruling?

Intentional off-sides. Rule Reference 630(c).

There was no chance for that play to be on-side.

Situation 28

An attacking player in the Neutral Zone passes the puck to a teammate who is completely in the Attacking Zone. However, the puck is deflected by the opponent before entering the zone. Is this play off-side?

Yes. Rule Reference 630(c).

Any deflection off a teammate, opponent, Official or rink defect does not nullify an off-side.

Situation 29

Team A has possession and control of the puck in their Attacking Zone. During the play the puck leaves the zone. A Team A defenseman gains control of the puck just a few feet outside of his Attacking blue line. He looks up and notices that some of his teammates are still in the Attacking Zone, not in the vicinity of the blue line and making no attempt to 

leave that zone. Without any chance of making a legal play, he advances the puck one foot into his Attacking Zone and obtains a stoppage of play. Is this infraction considered to be an intentional off-sides?

Yes. Rule References 630(c & Note).

In this instance the attacking player deliberately secured an immediate off-sides solely for the purpose of stopping the game.

Situation 30

Team A has a power play and is passing the puck around in their Attacking Zone. The puck is passed back to the point and the Team A defenseman cannot handle it as the puck trickles completely outside the zone. The Team A defenseman, in a last ditch effort to keep the puck in the Attacking Zone, dives for the puck and hits it back into the Attacking Zone with three of his teammates deeper than the tops of the face-off circles. Is this situation an intentional off- sides?

No. Rule References 630(c & Note).

If the defenseman has made an honest effort to keep the puck in the Attacking Zone, but cannot, and in doing so happens to create an off-side infraction, intentional off-sides has not occurred and a normal delayed off-side shall be in effect.

Situation 31

Team A has possession and control of the puck in their Attacking Zone. During the play, the puck leaves the zone. A Team A defenseman gains control of the puck just a few feet outside of his attacking blue line. He looks and notices that some of his teammates are still in the Attacking Zone and a Team B player is converging in on him. Without any chance of making a legal play, he passes the puck directly to a teammate in the attacking zone. Is this infraction considered to be intentional off-sides?

Yes. Rule References 630(c & Note).

In this instance the attacking player deliberately shot the puck to secure an immediate stoppage of play.

Situation 32

Team A has possession and control of the puck in their Attacking Zone. During the play, the puck leaves the zone. A Team A defenseman gains control of the puck just a few feet outside of his attacking blue line. He looks and notices that some of his teammates are still in the Attacking Zone and a Team B player converging in on him. Without any chance of making a legal play, he shoots the puck directly on goal. Is this infraction considered to be intentional off-sides?

Yes. Rule References 630(c & Note).

In this instance the attacking player deliberately shot the puck to secure an immediate stoppage of play.

Situation 33

Are there general off-side situations to help decide regular vs. intentional off-sides?

Yes. Rule References 630(c & Note).

Judge the intent of the attacking team. The onus is on that team to create a legal play at the blue line. If it appears that the team has knowingly gone off-side, an intentional off-side is warranted. Otherwise, a regular off-side is the proper call. A play where attacking players are barely across the blue line going into the Attacking Zone, or within a stride of clearing the Attacking Zone as the puck is crossing the blue line into the zone would be examples of regular off-side situations (timing issues). If an attacking player is bumped off-side, that would be a regular off-side.

The following situations apply in classifications where the “tag-up” (to nullify a delayed off-side) applies — Youth and Girls’ 14 & under age classifications and older, High School, Junior and all Adults.

Situation 34

A player shoots the puck from his defending half of the Neutral Zone across his opponent’s goal line. A teammate is completely over his attacking blue line before the puck crosses that blue line and is therefore off-side (non-intentional situation). Which infraction takes precedence, the off-side or the icing?

The icing infraction takes precedence. Rule References 630(d) and 624(a).

As soon as the puck crosses the blue line, an off-side has occurred, even though delayed, while the icing is still a “potential” icing. The front Linesman’s first reaction in this situation must be to immediately raise his arm to signal the delayed off-side. The back Linesman should already have his arm raised to indicate the potential icing. With both Linesmen now having an arm raised for different events, the front Linesman will blow the whistle to signify “icing.” In this instance, if the puck crosses the goal line and all criteria for icing are met, play shall be stopped and the face-off shall take place in the end zone of the offending team because the icing infraction was completed.

Situation 35

Is the defending goalkeeper eligible to play the puck on a delayed off-side (non-intentional situation) without causing a stoppage of play?

Yes. Rule Reference 630(d.).

As long as the goalkeeper is not preventing the original pass or shot from entering the goal, he may play the puck without causing a stoppage of play for the off-side infraction.

Situation 36

During a delayed off-side (non-intentional situation) the attacking team is allowed to completely clear the Attacking Zone to nullify the delayed off-side infraction. Must all off- side players make skate contact with the Neutral Zone (white part) or the blue line to satisfy this condition?

The blue line only. Rule Reference 630(d.2).

For the purposes of this rule, the off-side players in the Attacking Zone must only make skate contact with the blue line even though, with the puck in the Attacking Zone, the blue line is considered to be a part of the Attacking Zone. The interpretation is based on the ease of identifying the blue line on the part of players and Officials. Also, by making skate contact with the line, players are merely required to establish an on-side skate position which would have applied when the puck originally entered the Attacking Zone.

Situation 37

During a delayed off-side (non-intentional), the only attacking player who was off-side turns to go back to the blue line to “tag up.” Before he reaches the blue line, a teammate who was on-side skates into his Attacking Zone. The original off-side player touches the blue line with one skate. At that instant his teammate is about 10 feet into the Attacking Zone. Is the delayed off-side now nullified and are all attacking team players eligible to play the puck?

No to both questions. Rule Reference 630(d.2).

At the instant the off-side player(s) make skate contact with the blue line, the Attacking Zone must be completely clear of all other attacking players. If this condition is not met, all attacking players who enter their Attacking Zone are off-side until this condition is met or until the puck leaves the zone.

Situation 38

The only off-side attacking player turns immediately and makes skate contact with the blue line. At that instant a teammate is crossing the blue line and has one skate completely across the blue line into the Attacking Zone and the other skate fully on the blue line and not touching any part of white Neutral Zone ice. Should the delayed off-side (non-intentional) be nullified?

Yes. Rule Reference 630(d.2).

Even though neither player is “clear” of the Attacking Zone and are both completely in the Attacking Zone when they contact the blue line, for the purposes of this rule both players are only required to make contact with the blue line, not the Neutral Zone.

Situation 39

Team A has a player trapped beyond the tops of the face-off circles in the Attacking Zone when a Team A player shoots the puck into the zone. The Linesman correctly signals a delayed off-side. A Team B player plays the puck with the blade of his stick two feet over his head and he is the next player to play the puck. The Referee stops play with the puck in the Defending Zone and the off-side Team A player still in the zone. Where is the face-off?

At the end zone face-off spot closest to the goal of the attacking team. Rule References 630(d.3 & c. Note) and 621(c).

Even though the puck was played with a high stick, the original infraction was intentional off-sides. In this situation, the whistle should be blown as soon as the puck is shot into the zone because of the player who is deep in the Attacking Zone.

Situation 40

When attempting to advance the puck, may a defending player carry the puck anywhere in his Defending Zone with a delayed off-side (non-intentional) in effect?

Yes, as long as he is not being forced deeper into his zone by an attacking player. Rule Reference 630(d.4).

The intent of the delayed off-side rule is to keep play in progress as long as the defending team has a reasonable opportunity to advance the puck out of the Defending Zone and moves promptly to do so. The attacking team is not required to “tag up” at the blue line in order to nullify the offside if it elects not to.

However, when the Linesman becomes aware that one or more off-side attacking players are not returning to the blue line, he should be alert to stop play as soon as the defending 

puck carrier is forced back further into his Defending Zone or as soon as contact, however slight, is made with the puck or puck carrier.

In addition, the defending team is not to be permitted to take advantage of this rule to delay the game. The Linesman must stop play immediately for the off-side infraction when it becomes apparent that the defending puck carrier is not making a serious attempt to advance the puck out of his zone.

Situation 41

The puck is shot by an attacking player from the Neutral Zone into a corner with a teammate off-side (non-intentional situation). The off-side player continues toward the corner in an obvious attempt to play the loose puck. A defending player is slightly closer to the puck and it appears that he will get to the puck before the attacking player. Should the Linesman continue to delay the off-side call?

No. He should stop the play immediately. Rule Reference 630(d.4).

As a general rule, when one or more off-side players decline to turn immediately and go back to the blue line to “tag up” and instead continue in pursuit of the puck, play should be stopped immediately. The potential for unnecessary body contact should not be allowed in a situation where an infraction (off-sides) has already occurred. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. If it is apparent that a defending player will reach a loose puck well ahead of any off- side attacking player and will have a reasonable chance to advance the puck out of his Defending Zone, or if a defending player already has possession of the puck with a similar reasonable chance to advance the puck, play should be permitted to continue. But, where there is any doubt this will occur, the Linesman is expected to stop play immediately.

Situation 42

The puck is shot directly on goal by an attacking player in the Neutral Zone with a teammate in the Attacking Zone (non- intentional situation). Should the Linesman allow play to continue under the delayed off-side rule?

No. Rule Reference 630(d.5).

As soon as the Linesman is aware that the puck will not be intercepted by a defending player before it reaches the goal and/or goalkeeper, he must stop play immediately due to the off-side (last play face-off).

Situation 43

The puck is shot directly on goal by an attacking player in the Neutral Zone with a teammate in the Attacking Zone (non- intentional situation). Should the Linesman allow play to continue under the delayed off-side rule?

No. Rule Reference 630(d.5).

As soon as the Linesman is aware that the puck will not be intercepted by a defending player before it reaches the goal and/or goalkeeper, he must stop play immediately due to the off-side (last play face-off).

Situation 44

Team A shoots the puck into its Attacking Zone just prior to all Team A players clearing the zone. The puck is headed towards the goal. Prior to the puck reaching the goal area, Team A has completely cleared the zone and the puck enters the goal. Is this off-sides or a goal?

This is treated as off-sides and the goal must be disallowed. A goal cannot be scored when the puck entered the zone illegally. Rule Reference 630(d.5).

The key here is that the puck was headed on goal during the delayed off-side, no matter how brief it was. Under normal circumstances, the delayed off-side would be nullified as soon as Team A clears the zone. In this situation, if the Official responsible for the call at the blue line determines that the puck is headed on goal, the play must be stopped immediately.

As a final reminder regarding the preceding situations:

  • 1-23 apply for all classifications
  • 24-33 apply in classifications that play using the immediate off-sides rule (Youth and Girls’ 12 & under age classifications and below)
  • 34-44 apply in classifications that play using the delayed off-sides rule (Youth and Girls’ 14 & under and older)