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Ice Hockey: Rules and Referees

Mar 17, 2008
Knowing the rules is especially important in hockey, because it is one of the few games in which players are provided with equipment that could injure an opponent. Both sticks and skates can be dangerous if players do not use them properly, as described in the rules. An understanding of the role of the referee is also an important component of the game.

You should know the rules that describe the infractions calling for penalties. Not only should you know them, but you should understand their interpretations. For example, terms like cross-checking, hooking, slashing, and high-sticking tell you when you are committing a foul with your stick. Others like boarding, charging, kneeing, elbowing, and holding tell you how not to use the parts of your body in checking an opponent. These rules are intended to reduce the chances of injuries and to prevent one player from gaining an unfair advantage over another.

Another group of rules you need to know concerns the puck in play.

In addition to reading your league's official rule book, it is also a good idea to talk over with your buddies and your coach any rule calls made in practices and games that you do not understand.

Penalties may come your way by accident - especially if you play aggressively. But you give your team a big advantage if you cut out useless, foolish penalties and still play a hard, driving game. Remember that when you sit out a two-minute penalty, your teammates have to work much harder under greater pressure while shorthanded.

Also, the referee is not responsible for your penalties or your mistakes, so do not blame him for the game you just lost.

For your own and your team's good, you should develop the following attitudes toward the referee:

1. Respect what the referee stands for. He did not make the rules, but he is responsible for seeing that they are carried out, and you agreed to accept them when you stepped on the ice.

2. If you are the team captain or his alternate, be polite in asking for the interpretation of a call. If you are not the captain, stay away from the referee altogether.

3. Appreciate the difficulty of making split-second decisions in a fast game. The best way to develop this appreciation is to try refereeing a game or two yourself.

4. Try to realize how important it is to have good referees for your games. There is nothing worse than the chaos that occurs when poor officials referee a game. And the only way we can keep good referees working is to respect their judgments and abilities.

Once you discipline yourself to accept the referee's calls, whether you think them to be good or bad, your ability to concentrate every minute on your play will improve. You will not be easily upset or distracted by bad breaks. Only then will you know that you are no longer a rookie. You will have become a "coach's player" - a rare compliment in hockey language.

Do not criticize the play of others on the team. That is the coach's job; your job is to improve your own weaknesses. Besides, your buddy might not go for your telling him what is wrong with his play.

Remember that there are no substitutes in hockey, as there are in other team sports. If you ever try to play all three 20-minute periods with just six men on the ice, you will soon realize that the second and third lines are alternate lines and you cannot win without them.

Be on hand for every practice. Nothing hurts a team's morale as much as having only half a squad turn out.

Do not be critical of your coach's decisions. If he assigns you to a different line and you do not like the move, swallow your dislike. Remember, the move is being made to strengthen your team. Also, do not criticize your coach's offensive and defensive strategy. Play the game with intelligence and courage. Above all, be a true sportsman in both victory and defeat.
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