This week let’s talk about a common occurrence in minor hockey, handling the puck. Often at the younger ages of hockey, players will grab for the puck to clear it out of a corner or near the net. Most of the time this is nothing and play continues. There are however times when this action will call for a stoppage of play, a minor penalty or a penalty shot.
Rule 9.1 Handling the Puck: “Play shall immediately be stopped and a minor penalty shall be assessed any player except a goaltender who closes his/her hand on the puck and, while so doing, gains an advantage on her/his opponents. When a player simply closes their hand on the puck and immediately drops it to the ice, without gaining or attempting to gain an advantage by this action, play shall be allowed to continue.” Further, “A minor penalty shall be assessed a goaltender who deliberately holds the puck and in the opinion of the referee, is causing an unnecessary stoppage in play.”
This rule is one most people understand well enough but there are a few points you need to be aware of. If a player of the defending team (except the goaltender) picks up the puck from the ice or covers it with their hand while it is in the team’s goal crease, the play shall be stopped and a penalty shot shall be awarded to the non-offending team.
In addition to that, it’s important to note that a player who is outside the crease, bats or scoops the puck out of the crease and into his/her body. He/she doesn’t cover or grab the puck while the puck is still in the crease, just scoops it out and then grabs it or falls on it. The ruling should be to assess a minor penalty under rule 10.3 which is “Falling on the Puck”.
This season I have witnessed three penalty shots awarded due to a player covering the puck in their own net. You can see the look on the players face; “What did I do?” These are the moments when explain it to the players so they all understand. I will say that each time a penalty shot is awarded I have never heard any complaints. I think most people like the penalty shot, it’s fun to watch and it’s over in a moment.
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Kevin Klein has been an official for more than 15 years, he is currently Referee in Chief for FGNHA. Follow him on twitter @Behindwhistle