USA Hockey announces icing rule change at 14U level and below; record-setting participation numbers

By @StefanKubus –

Every four years, USA Hockey evaluates its playing rules and has the opportunity to make changes to said rules during its four-day Annual Congress gathering.

With 2017 being a rules-change year, the Board of Directors voted on and approved a notable proposal drastically affecting the game at the youth level.

Teams at the 14U-and-below age classifications will no longer be permitted to ice the puck when shorthanded. If a team ices the puck while killing a penalty, there will be an icing call made, and the ensuing face-off will take place in the defensive zone – just like even-strength play.

Also, stronger verbiage surrounding the game misconduct penalty in Rule 601 has been added to prohibit use of abusive language: “a game misconduct penalty shall be issued to any player or team official who uses language that is offensive, hateful or discriminatory in nature anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game.”

USA Hockey plans to provide a full review of all adopted rule modifications later this week to provide clarity.

In addition to the rule changes, USA Hockey also announced record-setting participation numbers for the 2016-17 season, including new highs in both the total number of players (555,175) and the total number of players, coaches and officials (637,444).

The 115,694 players at the 8U level in 2016-17 was also a new record at that age group. Meanwhile, adult hockey witnessed growth for the 14th straight year, recording 180,400 players this past season.

The Annual Congress meetings also officially marked Pat Kelleher’s entrance into the executive director role, taking over for Dave Ogrean who held the job since 2005.