What is Interference in Hockey

What is Interference in Hockey? A Complete Guide

Understanding Interference in Hockey

“What is interference in hockey?”The game of ice hockey has always been aggressive, with players rubbing one another out in front of the net and against the boards, and it always will be. However, not every physical interaction on the rink follows the rules exactly, which is why there is an interference penalty.

What is Interference in Hockey?

“Interference in hockey” refers to a rule essential to maintaining fairness and sportsmanship on the ice. Let’s break it down: interference happens when a player uses their body or stick to make physical contact with an opponent who doesn’t have the puck. This rule is the cornerstone of maintaining integrity in the game.

The NHL’s Take on Player Interference Hockey

The NHL rule book defines interference clearly. According to Rule 56 of the NHL rule book for the 2022–23 season, a player cannot restrain or impede an opponent using any part of their body or stick if that opponent doesn’t have the puck. The idea is to prevent any unfair disruption of an opponent’s progress or movements.

Determining Puck Possession

Now, let’s figure out who’s in charge. To decide who has puck possession, the NHL relies on a straightforward principle: the player currently holding the puck or the last player to touch it (excluding the goaltender) is considered to be in possession. In simpler terms, a player can be checked legally when they have the puck or immediately after losing it.

What is Interference in Hockey
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Prohibited Actions

Specific actions are strictly off-limits when it comes to interference in hockey.

  • Preventing Offside: Imagine trying to block a player to prevent them from going offside when they don’t have puck possession. That’s interference. It’s against the rules and can lead to penalties.
  • Equipment Disruption: If you knock the stick out of an opponent’s hand or prevent them from retrieving dropped equipment, that’s interference. It’s not fair play and can result in penalties.
  • Dealing with Abandoned Equipment: Shooting or knocking a broken or abandoned stick or equipment toward an opposing puck carrier is a clear violation of the interference rule. Such actions can result in penalties.
  • Off-Ice Interference: Interference isn’t limited to the ice. Players who aren’t on the ice, such as those on the player’s bench or in the penalty box, can also receive interference penalties if they interfere with an opponent or the puck.

Maintaining Position

Here’s a key point: a player doesn’t have to move to allow an opponent to pass. As long as they are moving in the same direction as the opponent and are in front of them, they are within their rights to hold their ground.

Interference Hockey Penalties

Referees call hockey interference penalties when a player obstructs or interferes with an opponent’s progress who is not in control of the puck during a hockey game. Interference penalties come in different degrees of severity.

A standard interference call results in a two-minute minor penalty, which also applies to interference with the goaltender.
If a non-playing member of the team, like a coach or trainer, impedes a player, the team incurs a two-minute bench minor.

In more severe cases, penalties can be extended. For example, violent physical contact by a player can lead to a five-minute major penalty. If this illegal hit causes an injury to the opponent, the offending player may also face game misconduct.

In rare cases, if a player, coach, or trainer interferes with a puck carrier on a breakaway, it results in a penalty shot. Interference by a non-playing team member can result in ejection from the game and additional disciplinary action. The rule states that a goal will be awarded to the opposing team if a player or puck is interfered with during a breakaway from the bench while the defending team has pulled its goalie for an extra skater.

What is Interference in Hockey
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The Timeframe for Body Checks

Understanding the timing of body checks about interference is essential. According to the NHL rule book, a player may be legally hit immediately after losing possession of the puck, typically within a window of approximately 1.5 to 2 seconds. The referee exercises discretion, considering the level of contact, with minor bumps often overlooked while significant checks result in penalties.

Understanding Goalie Interference

Interference in hockey doesn’t just pertain to players; it extends to the goaltender as well. Rule 69 of the NHL rule book addresses goalie interference. It specifies that an attacking player must not impede the goalie’s ability to defend the net or move freely in the crease using their body or stick.

A critical factor in determining goalie interference is an understanding of the crease, a semi-circle painted in front of the net. While the attacking team has possession of the puck, no player can enter or have their stick in the crease while the goaltender is in contact with it unless the puck enters first.

Unique Aspects of Goalie Interference

Goaltender interference rules do not apply if one of the goalie’s teammates initiates the contact leading to interference. For instance, a defender pushing an opponent forward into their goalie doesn’t result in a penalty.

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Bench Interference

Though rare, bench interference has its place in the rulebook. It may be called when a player on either the team bench or the penalty bench makes physical contact with the puck or an opposing player, impeding their movement in any way with their body or stick.

Goalie Stick Interference

Interference in hockey by the goaltender is rarely seen but is noteworthy. It typically occurs when a goalie intentionally leaves their stick or any part of it in front of the net to block the opposing team’s scoring attempts.

Typically, interference results in a two-minute penalty in the penalty box. However, the severity of the penalty can be influenced by the specific situation and the judgment of the officials.

Coach’s Challenge for Goalie Interference Hockey

Coaches have the right to challenge goalie interference calls. The on-ice officials use video monitors to review the play—an unsuccessful challenge results in a minor penalty for delay of the game.

In conclusion, interference in hockey is a complex yet essential rule to maintain fairness, sportsmanship, and player safety. Understanding the nuances of this rule is critical for all players, coaches, and fans. It’s more than just a technicality; it can be the deciding factor in the outcome of a game on the ice.

What is Interference in Hockey
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FAQs On Interference In Hockey

What actions are considered interference in hockey?

Interference in hockey encompasses actions like body checking, obstructing a player’s skating path, or impeding a player’s access to the puck.

Are there any exceptions to calling interference penalties?

Certainly, interference hockey penalties may not be assessed when players engage in puck battles, when contact is merely incidental, or when both players are in pursuit of the puck along the boards.

Can interference penalties lead to player ejections?

In general, interference hockey penalties alone do not result in player ejections unless they coincide with other major infractions or if a player accumulates multiple interference penalties during the same game.

How long does a player serve in the penalty box for an interference penalty?

Typically, a player serves a two-minute stint in the penalty box for an interference penalty, unless the opposing team manages to score a power-play goal before the time elapses.

Can interference penalties be challenged or reviewed by coaches?

No, coaches are not allowed to challenge or review interference hockey penalties. The referee’s decision is conclusive in such instances, and coaches have no recourse for disputing an interference penalty.

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