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Protective Equipment

Situation 1

What action should the referee take when the goalkeeper loses one of their gloves during play?

Keeping safety as the primary consideration, the referee should stop play whenever the goalkeeper loses a glove and is in a vulnerable position UNLESS there is an imminent scoring opportunity in which play should be allowed to continue until the imminent scoring opportunity has passed. Rule References 304(a and e).

If the Referee judges the goalkeeper has deliberately removed any equipment during play they should assess the offending goalkeeper a ‘Delay of Game’ minor penalty.

Situation 2

A player is discovered to be wearing elbow pads outside of their sweater. What action shall the Referee take to correct this situation?

The Referee must inform the offending player and order them off the ice until the situation is corrected. Rule References 304(b) and 304(g).

The team is warned and any player from this team who returns to play with the elbow pads outside of the sweater shall be assessed a misconduct penalty.

Situation 3

May the Referee require that a player change a helmet which conflicts with their team’s colors?

No. Rule References 304(c) and 203(b).

The USA Hockey Playing Rules do not make it mandatory for a team to wear color coordinated helmets. The key issue for officials is that the helmet is properly certified and is in goodcondition as to not be deemed dangerous.

Situation 4

Is the substitute goalkeeper required to wear their helmet/facemask while they are on the players’ bench?

Yes. Rule Reference 304(c).

Regardless of what position they play, all skaters and goalkeepers must wear the proper protective headgear at all times while on the players’ bench.

Situation 5

A player is injured during play and is sent to the players’ bench to be looked at. During the time that they are being looked at by the Coach on the players’ bench, are they required to wear their helmet and facemask.

Yes. Rule Reference 304(c).

Unless the injury is such that would require removal of the helmet/facemask, such as a head, neck or shoulder injury, the injured player is still required to wear the proper head/face protection.

Situation 6

A player on the players’ bench briefly removes their helmet/facemask to wipe out the inside of their helmet. Does this action warrant a warning by the Referee?

No. Rule Reference 304(c).

A player may momentarily remove their helmet while on the players’ bench for adjustments such as wiping out the facemask, fixing the helmet padding, etc.

Situation 7

A player goes onto the ice, ready for play, with the proper helmet and facemask. The facemask chin cup straps are properly fastened, but the helmet strap has been removed. Is the player allowed to participate without a helmet chin strap?

No. Rule Reference 304(c).

The helmet chin strap is a required part of the helmet and must be properly worn at all times. The facemask chin cup and straps are also required components of the facemask.

Situation 8

A team takes the ice without HECC approved helmets or facemasks, claiming to have an agreement with the other team allowing them to play with the improper equipment. Should the Referee allow them to play without the required equipment?

No. Rule References 304(c and d).

No excuse is acceptable for the Referee to permit any team to wear non-HECC approved helmets or facemasks (where required).

However, USA Hockey does have an agreement with Hockey Canada that allows teams from each respective Federation to play games in the other country using their required equipment. Check with your Local Supervisor of Officials as to what is required when officiating games involving teams
from Canada.

Situation 9

Will a skater meet HECC helmet and facemask standards if they play with a goalkeeper helmet and facemask combination?

No. The Goalkeeper combination headgear is specific to playing goal and has not been certified for skaters. Rule References 304(c and d).

This is an additional HECC/ASTM standard which specifically covers goalkeeper helmet and facemask combinations. HECC approved goalkeeper headgear does not necessarily meet the entire ASTM standards for both a skater’s helmet and facemask. The Goalkeeper combination headgear may only be used by goalkeepers.

Situation 10

What are the proper procedures for the On-Ice Officials to follow when attempting to identify HECC approved helmets and facemasks.

The Officials must make a visual check of all required protective equipment while the players are on the ice during warm-ups. Rule References 304(c and d) and 304(c Note).

The Referee should follow these steps to determine the legality of a required HECC approved helmet or facemask:

STEP 1: All approved helmets and facemasks should have a valid HECC approved certification sticker with a date that is still current attached unless it has been removed by the player. The first burden of proof the helmet/facemask is eligible for use is the valid and unexpired certification sticker.

STEP 2: If the sticker(s) are not present, the official should have a basic knowledge of the required characteristics. These include ear protection for helmets and small enough openings in the facemask to prevent the butt-end of a stick from entering. In addition, the helmet chin strap and facemask chin cup and straps must also be present.

STEP 3: If still in question, the equipment models can be compared to the lists of certified equipment that is present on the HECC website (

Situation 11

Current HECC helmet stickers have an expiration date. What should the Officials do if they notice that the helmet or facemask certification has expired?

The Referee should alert the player and coach to the expiration of the equipment. Rule References 304(c.Note).

HECC places an expiration date on the stickers of helmets and facemasks that are for a certain time after the date of manufacture. This is done as a reminder to players and parents that equipment must be up-to-date and checked on regular basis.

The expiration date is not something that the officials should actively look for and the practicality of doing so is prohibitive.

The onus is on the player to wear the properly certified equipment.

Situation 12

If a player paints a HECC approved helmet to change the color of the helmet, is the helmet considered to be an altered piece of protective equipment?

Yes. Rule References 304(c and d Note).

A helmet that is painted voids the manufacturer’s warranty and may weaken the plastic components of the helmet. The HECC certification is voided.

Helmets that have small painted logos or small stickers attached to them shall be deemed to be legal under this rule, provided that such paint or sticker does not cover the entire surface of the helmet.

Situation 13

A goalkeeper is wearing a custom painted HECC approved helmet/facemask combination. Should the Referee allow this mask to be worn?

Yes. Rule References 304(c and d Note).

These products are manufactured in a way that allows for customized painting without voiding the HECC certification. In doing so, they should be painted according to manufacturer’s specifications.

Situation 14

If a player takes apart two HECC approved helmets of different colors and reassembles the different colored fronts and backs of the two helmets, is the “new” helmet considered to be altered, thus causing it to be illegal?

No. Rule References 304(c and d Note).

This helmet would meet HECC standards for helmets provided both sections are from the same model helmet and the pieces have been assembled properly. Any multicolored helmet that doesn’t meet this criteria shall be considered altered and deemed to be illegal.

Situation 15

Shall the Referee assess a misconduct penalty to a player who participates in play with their helmet strap fastened, but loose enough as to be deemed not in the manner in which it was intended?

The Referee would direct the player off the ice and warn the team. Rule References 304(c) and 304(g).

The helmet strap is intended to be worn with one finger width between the strap and the chin. If worn improperly, the player must be ruled off the ice until corrected and the team is issued their warning. For a subsequent violation by any player on the same team, a misconduct penalty is assessed.

Situation 16

May a player wear a facemask (HECC approved or not) if they have added a piece of wire or metal to the mask to make it appear legal?

No. Rule Reference 304(d Note).

An altered facemask is not eligible for use. Added pieces of wire or metal may break or become dislodged and cause serious injury to either the player wearing the mask or another player. Bars that have been removed to make the opening larger may not meet ASTM standards.

Situation 17

A skater loses their helmet and/or facemask during play. What options do they have?

The Referee shall stop play immediately. Rule Reference 304(e).

When occurring, the skater must be substituted on the ice and may return only after play has resumed.

Situation 18

A player has been assessed a misconduct penalty for playing without a required mouthpiece after that team has been issued their warning. After they serve this penalty, may they continue to play without a mouthpiece?

No. Rule Reference 304(f).

A player cannot “buy” the right to play with illegal equipment or without required equipment by simply serving a penalty. The player may continue to play after serving the penalty, but only after securing a mouthpiece.

Situation 19

Must a request come from the Captain of the opposing team before the Referee may warn a team or assess a misconduct penalty to a player who does not wear a required mouthpiece?

No. Rule References 304(f) and 307(c).

Whenever a player is on the ice, they are deemed ready to play and the mouthpiece rule enforced.

Situation 20

A skater goes onto the ice during a line change and is not wearing a required mouthpiece. May they be penalized before play resumes?

For the first offense, the Referee will warn the team. If the team has already been issued their warning, the misconduct penalty would be assessed to the skater. Rule Reference 304(f).

Once the skater is on the ice they are considered to be participating in the game, even though play has not resumed, and is subject to all equipment guidelines.

Situation 21

What should the Referee do when they notice the Goalkeeper is not wearing the required mouthpiece?

The Goalkeeper should be removed from the ice and the Referee shall warn the team for the first offense or assess a misconduct penalty if it is a subsequent offense. Rule Reference 304(f).

The goalkeeper is not allowed to return to the game until they are wearing the proper mouthpiece. If the team is able to provide the goalkeeper with a mouthpiece quickly without having to go to the bench, then the goalkeeper shall be allowed to remain in the game, but the team is still issued a warning and any subsequent mouthpiece violation by that team will result in a misconduct penalty being assessed.

Situation 22

Is it legal for a player to skate with their jersey tucked into their pants?

Yes. Rule References 304(h) and 203(b).

Although Rule 304(h) states that all protective equipment must be worn in the manner in which it is intended, the jersey is not considered protective equipment. In youth hockey, it may be difficult for a team to have proper sizes for all of the players and as long as the identifying number is
visible, the official should not make this a bigger deal than it needs to be.