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Playing Lineup and Substitution of Players

Situation 1

What constitutes a “line change?”

The change of one or more players. Rule Reference 204(a).

If a team changes as few as one player, that change shall be considered a “line change.”

Situation 2

Immediately following a stoppage of play, the home team makes a player change. The visiting team then also makes a player change. Should the visiting team be allowed to make that change AFTER the home team?

Yes, provided that all changes are made immediately. Rule Reference 204(a).

By making an immediate change, the home team cannot deny the visiting team the opportunity to change its players during a stoppage provided it is done within the required time frame.

Situation 3

Immediately following a stoppage of play, the home team makes a player (one to five players) “line change,” following which the visiting team also makes a player change. The Coach of the home team then decides that they want to put different player(s) on the ice to counter the change made by the visiting team. Should the Referee permit the home team to make this “last change”?

No. Rule Reference 204(a).

The home team may elect to wait until the visiting team has changed lines before making its own change of players, therefore giving the home team the “last change” privilege. But, if the home team makes a decision to change any number of players on the ice and does so before the visiting team has had a reasonable amount of time to make a change, no further line change may be made by the home team.

Situation 4

During a stoppage of play, both teams change players. Immediately after the start of the play, one of the On-Ice Officials notices that one of the teams has too many players on the ice and stops play. Should the Referee assess a bench minor penalty?

No. Rule Reference 204(a).

It is the responsibility of the On-Ice Officials to see that each team has the correct number of players on the ice before the puck is dropped. In this case, play must be stopped the moment the Officials become aware of the fact that there are too many players on the ice.

Situation 5

Either team (visiting or home) attempts to make an additional player change after the Referee has signaled their allotted time for the player change has expired. What procedure should the Referee follow to ensure the proper players are on the ice for a face-off?

When the Referee notices the late player change by either team, they should immediately establish a presence and instruct the late players to go back to their bench and any player who was originally changed must proceed to the faceoff location. Rule Reference 204(a).

Once the designated time has expired, no more changes shall be allowed and the Referee must be assertive in immediately stepping in to prevent any additional changes. The linesman not conducting the face-off can also assist in this process. If the Referee has to send a player back to the bench, they should also then warn the coach that any subsequent violations may result in a bench minor penalty for delay of game. The Referee should be aware of any deliberate attempts to delay the game through this procedure and assess the appropriate penalty, but also needs to be conscious of simple disorganization by a volunteer coach and work with them to speed up the process.

Situation 6

Both teams are assessed minor penalties at the same time during a stoppage of play after the line change process has been completed. Is each team entitled to a full line change?

No. Rule Reference 204(a).

Each team must replace the penalized player but are not entitled to a full line change. A full line change is allowed only when a penalty or penalties are imposed that affect the numerical on-ice strength of either or both teams.

Situation 7

Are all players, including the goalkeepers, bound by the “at the bench” criteria when they are substituted for by another player?

Yes. Rule Reference 204(b).

On any player change, the retiring player or players, including goalkeepers, must be at the bench and out of the play. When, in the course of making a substitution, either the player entering or retiring from the game deliberately plays the puck in any manner or makes any physical contact with an opponent while both players are on the ice, the infraction of “too many players on the ice” shall be called.

Situation 8

During a player change, the Team A retiring player is in the vicinity of the players’ bench and does not make any effort to play the puck or the body of the opponent. However, their replacement comes onto the ice at the other end of the bench and immediately engages in play in a manner that changes a 2-1 break for Team B into a 2-2 attack. Is this considered a too many players infraction?

Yes. Rule Reference 204(b).

In this situation, Team A has gained a competitive advantage during the player change, even though neither the retiring player nor the replacement player has directly played the puck or an opponent. The fact they are still both on the ice and Team A gained a territorial or positional advantage as a result of the change is considered to be a violation of the rule and should be penalized.

Situation 9

In the course of making a substitution, while play is in progress, the player entering the game is accidentally struck by the puck while the retiring player is still on the ice. Has an infraction of the rules occurred?

No. Rule Reference 204(b).

If the puck accidentally strikes either player in the process of a change, play must continue without a penalty, provided that the player who was struck by the puck makes no attempt to play the puck until the player change is complete.

Situation 10 (For all Youth Levels of Play)

If a player on the penalty bench remains there after the expiration of the penalty (while the team is entitled to return to full strength), may the team place another skater on the ice as long as the originally penalized player remains on the penalty bench?

No. Rule Reference 204(c).

A team may replace the penalized player only after they have left the penalty bench by way of the ice and returned to their players’ bench. If they elect to remain on the penalty bench, either by intent or error, the team must continue to skate short-handed until the player returns to the ice. For a violation of this rule, a bench minor penalty must be assessed to the offending team.

Situation 11 (For Adults Only)

A major or match penalty expires indicating the team is entitled to another skater on the ice. The team had chosen not to place a substitute player on the penalty bench. Is the team allowed to send a player onto the ice directly from the player’s bench during play?

Yes. Rule references 204(c), 403(d) and 405(a).

Since the adult classifications are not required to place a substitute player on the penalty bench for major or match penalties, they are permitted to send a player onto the ice from the player’s bench at the conclusion of the penalty and when they are entitled to have another player on the ice.

Situation 12

Who determines the intent of the act and therefore the possible application of a penalty shot when a Linesman calls “too many players on the ice” (substitution for the goalkeeper not involved) with less than two minutes remaining in regulation time or any time during overtime?

The Referee. Rule Reference 204(d).

The key word in this rule is “intent.” For example, a coach whose team is winning late in the game with two players already on the penalty bench, serving minor or major penalties, could deliberately put extra players on the ice and thereby neutralize the opponent’s power play.

Other possible scenarios that could be deemed to be deliberate is a losing team late in the game who intentionally places an additional player on the ice to gain an advantage, or puts the goalkeeper back on the ice after being pulled without removing a player.