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Tripping/Clipping/Leg Checking

Situation 1

For a tripping penalty to be assessed, must the fouled player fall to the ice?

No. Rule Reference 639(Note).

The Rule uses the words “trip or fall” to describe the offense. In the case where a player does not fall, it must be clearly obvious their progress was impeded and a competitive advantage was gained as a result of the tripping action.

Situation 2

Should a tripping penalty be called in every instance when a player falls down, even if the offending player clearly and successfully plays the puck?

No. Rule Reference 639(a Note).

The spirit and intent of the rule is to not penalize situations where the defending player has clearly attempted to and then played the puck with the focus solely being on the puck. In this instance, they should not be penalized for tripping when the opponent trips or falls as a result.

If the player loses the puck as a result of a poke check or hook check and then falls, this is not a penalty unless the player clearly went on to intentionally trip the opponent – keeping in mind the defensive player is still responsible for their stick. On the flip side, if the player loses possession of the puck as a result of being tripped – then a penalty must be called.

Situation 3

The goalkeeper skates out of their goal crease to meet an attacking player on a breakaway and deliberately trips the player as they try to go around the goalkeeper. What penalty should be assessed?

A minor penalty. Rule Reference 639(Note and a).

This situation does not call for a penalty shot because the player has not been fouled from behind.

Situation 4

A defending player leaves their feet and slides into the puck carrier. The defending player gains possession of the puck and the attacking player falls to the ice after being hit by the defending player’s body. Should a penalty be assessed?

Yes. Rule Reference 639(Note 3 and a).

When a player leaves their feet and slides into an opponent, thereby causing them to fall, a penalty for tripping must be called regardless of who gains possession of the puck. The only exception is when a player drops to their knees to block a shot and their momentum carries them into the player shooting the puck, causing them to fall. In that event, no penalty is to be assessed.

Situation 5

What are examples where a major plus game misconduct or a match penalty for tripping should be assessed.

Leg checking, clipping and slew footing are the three common tripping actions calling for a more severe penalty to be assessed. Rule Reference 639.

Extending the leg (Leg Check) to deliver a check to a player skating in the opposite direction has the potential to recklessly endanger the opponent and must be strictly enforced.

Extending the leg behind a player and taking their feet out from under them, especially when used in conjunction with a push to the chest area (slew foot) is dangerous action that must be penalized with a major plus game misconduct or match penalty. A minor penalty is NOT an option for slew footing.

Finally, a player who deliberately ducks or leaves their feet for the purpose of contacting an opponent at or below the knees (Clipping) is worthy of a major plus game misconduct or match penalty when the result is the opponent being placed in a vulnerable or defenseless position.

Any time one of these actions has been deemed to recklessly endanger the opponent, a match penalty must be considered.