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Official Rules

Official U.S. Pond Hockey Championships Tournament Rules*

Updated as of 1-12-2024

1. To begin the game, teams can elect to have a face-off, or give possession to one team to start. The other team will start the second half.

2. All players must wear hockey helmets with a fastened chin strap and hockey skates. Protective equipment is optional but highly recommended. (UPDATED IN 2024)

3. No goalie equipment or goalie sticks permitted.

4. All teams must have light and dark jerseys or uniforms. Home teams wear dark. -- IN THE OFFICIAL APP SCHEDULE -- BOTTOM TEAMS ARE HOME.

5. There will be a minimum of one off-ice pond official/referee to monitor the play (scoring, time, puck reset, and arbiter of infractions).

6. Referees will have the discretion to also award a "penalty shot" to the opposing team when a minor penalty is flagrant and/or a team is consistently playing in a reckless manner.

  • Penalty shot will be taken from center ice and must be attempted within 30 seconds of the penalty being called. Anyone on the opposing team can take the shot. The team that is awarded the penalty shot will also be given possession of the puck following the penalty shot attempt (regardless of the outcome of the shot).

7. Any major penalty, which includes any action that could possibly injure another player, will result in that player being ejected from the tournament.  A Head Referee and/or an Off-ice pond official will determine major penalties in consultation with game referee. 

8. Abuse of officials will be considered a major penalty. This includes yelling, swearing, or arguing about calls.

9. No checking is allowed. Such action will result in a minor penalty unless deemed serious enough to be a major (see off-ice pond official).

10. No slapshots allowed. Such action will result in a minor penalty.

11. Players cannot fall or lay on the ice in an effort to protect the goal area. Such action will result in a minor penalty.

12. Goaltending is not allowed. A player may not patrol, "camp out" or remain stationary in the crease area and act as a goaltender. A defender may deflect the puck in the crease area, but the defender must do so while continuing to move through the crease area. The crease area is defined as an imaginary box extending out four feet from the outside corners of the goal. Goaltending also applies to offensive players in the offensive zone/goal as well.

  • For the first violation of the goaltending rule, the referee will issue a warning. For any subsequent violation of this rule, a penalty shot will be awarded. If in the referee’s opinion the goaltending violation prevented an imminent goal, the referee can award the goal at their discretion.

13. Contacting the puck with a stick above the waist will result in a loss of possession.

14. Saucer passes (i.e. pucks that are lifted low, below the knee) are acceptable.

15. If a puck goes out of bounds, the last team to touch it loses possession. During restart, the defender must give his opponent 2-stick lengths of space.

16. There are no off-sides or icing calls.

17. Goals can be scored from any area of the rink.

18. Referees will call out the score after each goal. This includes goals scored by players or awarded from minor penalties.

19. Teams must give their opponents 1/2 ice after a goal is scored or an infraction takes place.

20. Games will be composed of two 15-minute halves with a 2-minute halftime.

21. In the event of a tie:

  • During pool play games, play will move to sudden death format. After the horn sounds, play will stop. A stick tap face-off will take place at center ice and play will continue for up to 3 minutes of overtime or until a goal is scored. If no goal is scored, the game will move to a sudden death shootout. Players will take turns taking penalty shots from 20 feet from the goal. During any round where one team makes a shot, and the other team misses, the game is over and the team who made the shot wins. If both teams miss, or if both teams make the shot, in any round, rounds continue until the game is over. A player may not take another penalty shot until all other players on their team have taken a shot. 

  • During any elimination games, there will be no shootouts. The sudden death overtime format will be used until we have a winner.  (UPDATED IN 2024)

22. All games are running-time and substitutions can be made during play ("on-the-fly") or while a puck is being retrieved. Substitutions must take place in the vicinity of the player’s bench. There is no stoppage of play after a goal is scored, or after a penalty is awarded. It is up to each team to ensure that there are only four players on the ice. 

23. Players can only play on one team per weekend. If during one of the weekends, a player plays on more than one team, that player is removed for the duration of the event and ALL teams that the player played on will forfeit remaining games. 

24. Rosters are final at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of tournament play. No substitutions during the tournament are allowed. The four to eight players that are on your roster at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of tournament play must be the same players that play on your team throughout the tournament.

25. Setting picks in offensive zone is not allowed. 

26. All players must visibly display their credentials during the game. Players without credentials are not allowed to play.

27. It is the responsibility of the team captain to ensure the correct game score has been logged on the scorecard. By signing the scorecard at the conclusion of the game, your team captain is acknowledging that they agree with the final score. Teams cannot contest scores/results after they have signed the scorecard.

  • Any scoring challenges must be addressed by the registered team captain with the USPHC Director of Officials at the Officials HQ tent within 60 minutes of the end of the game. 

28. In the event of a forfeit during pool play of any division, the team who did not forfeit will receive a win and, for tie breaker purposes, will be assigned a goals for and goals against total for that game equal to the averages of their other pool play games. These will be assigned at the conclusion of the pool play round when advancement is being determined. 

29. Delay of game - Teams should plan to be at their assigned rink 10 minutes prior to the scheduled game start time to allow enough time to shovel their half of the rink and attend the pre-game meeting with a USPHC official. If a team arrives late and/or delays the start of the game, 1 goal will be awarded to the opposing team for every minute the game start is delayed. After a 10 minute delay, the game will be forfeited. Time will be determined by the official game clock / official’s stopwatch.  (NEW IN 2024)

*Subject to change