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The complex nature of ICING THE PUCK

By Kevin Klein

Hello all,

This week I want to talk about icing the puck, otherwise known as Rule 10.5 in the Hockey Canada rule book. We see this many times in minor hockey games across the city but do we really know the rule well enough? This past weekend a coach asked me about icing the puck and his points were valid — “there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in calling icing.”

Rule 10.5 — Icing the puck — reads like this:

“Icing the puck is completed the instant the puck crosses the goal line, and the referee or linesman shall immediately blow her/his whistle, stopping play. If the puck shall have entered the goal, the icing shall not be called and a goal shall be allowed. For the purpose of this rule, the centre red line will divide the ice into halves. Should any player of a team, equal or superior in numerical strength to opposing team, shoot, bat or deflect the puck from his/her own half of the ice, beyond the goal line of the opposing team, play shall be stopped and the puck faced-off at the end zone face-off spot of the offending team.”

Clearly icing the puck is a simple-to-recognize infraction, however this is where the inconsistency may occur. The rule states: “If, in the opinion of the referee or linesmen, a player of the opposing team, except the goaltender, is able to play the puck before it crosses the goal line, but has not done so, the play shall continue and the icing the puck rule shall not apply.”

Three examples of complex icing situations

Example 1

I have heard on many occasions a coach yell from the bench, “Leave it … it’s icing.” Then the player who clearly was able to play the puck slows down and doesn’t make the attempt to play it, which results in the icing being waved off. Another example was a coach who felt because the puck passed through the legs of an opposing player icing should not have been called. Which would be incorrect. Only if the puck touched any part of the opposing player, or stick, or skates is the icing then waved off.

Example 2

Here’s another example which happens often: The puck is clearly shot down the ice and the official indicates icing. An opposing team player is within 10 feet of her players’ bench and her substitute comes onto the ice as the puck passes within reach of these two players. Playing the puck would constitute a bench minor for too many men. The opposing players make no attempt to play the puck in this situation, with the puck continuing on down over the goal line. Is icing called or is it waved off because the opposing player could have played the puck? If you said no icing you would be correct. The team shooting the puck should not be penalized because a line change was being made.

Example 3

Here’s a final example that I guess not many are not aware of in the rules. Delay of Game, Rule 10.1, states that referees must be strict in enforcing the rules where a team is deliberately stalling, freezing the puck, shooting the puck out of the playing surface, the goaltender holding the puck or throwing it out of the playing surface, or the team is committing a “series of icing,” thereby forcing a face-off shall be assessed a delay of game penalty. The last sentence is what I wanted to show. How many times have you heard coaches directing kids in the last minute of a game to just keep icing the puck? Did you know it may result in a minor penalty?

What I’m trying to show with these examples is that calling icing isn’t as simple as we might think. As officials you have several items to consider when calling any infraction during a game. The next time icing is indicated, think before you make your final decision.

Please follow me on Twitter @Behindwhistle and let’s work together to make the game enjoyable and safer for all involved.

Kevin Klein has been an official for more than 15 years, he is currently Referee in Chief for FGNHA. Follow him on twitter @Behindwhistle

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