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Ask the Official: What Constitutes a Boarding Penalty?

The goal of USA Hockey is to promote a safe and positive playing environment for all participants while continuing to focus on skill development and enjoyment of the sport.

The Minnesota Hockey Officials Association (MHOA) offers players, parents, coaches and officials the opportunity to submit questions regarding USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey playing rules to MHOA. An official will respond directly to all questions submitted, and select questions may be anonymously re-printed in the Minnesota Hockey newsletter.

To submit a question, click here.

Question: If the net is knocked off its moorings after the puck crosses the goal line, should the goal count?

Answer: If the referee determines the goal was scored before the net was displaced, the goal shall count.

If the referee determines the net was displaced before the puck entered and it was not intentional, the goal would not be awarded. If it is determined net was intentionally displaced by the defending team, then a minor penalty for delay of game would be assessed to the defending team.

Question: Is there any specific rule against a goaltender's legs (back side) being unprotected (bare skin)?

Answer: There is no specific rule covering this situation in the USA Hockey rule book. As an on-ice official, I see this a lot and am concerned for the safety of the goalkeeper, but there is no rule that could be enforced pertaining to this situation.

Question: What is boarding and why do I see it called more often now?

Answer: In the USA Hockey rule book boarding is described as: The action where a player pushes, trips or body checks an opponent causing them to go dangerously into the boards.

This includes:

  • Accelerating through the check to a player who is in a vulnerable position.

  • Driving an opponent excessively into the boards with no focus or intent to play the puck.

  • Any check delivered for the purpose of punishment or intimidation that causes the opponent to go unnecessarily into the boards.

  • The onus is on the player delivering the check to avoid placing a vulnerable or defenseless opponent in danger.

There are a number of penalty options for the referee to assess based on the severity of the infraction.

The goal of USA Hockey is to promote a safe and positive playing environment for all participants while continuing to focus on skill development and enjoyment of the sport. One of its points of emphasis is to eliminate intimidation tactics, which includes boarding situations. 

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