Introducing rule changes

Hybrid icing, blue lines, four women topics for new season


IIHF Sport Director Dave Fitzpatrick explains the rule changes to the IIHF Referee Supervisors and representatives from national associations during the workshop.

FRANKFURT/VIERUMÄKI – The rule changes approved by Congress in May are in place for the new season in IIHF championships, and they will also be introduced in many hockey leagues around the world. In June referee supervisors and national referee-in-chiefs met among other topics to discuss about the implementation of the new rules, what it means for referees and linesmen and their positioning.

The five-day summit with over 80 participants from 35 countries on site in Frankfurt, Germany, included four different meetings: the annual IIHF Referee Supervisor Meeting, a workshop on the new rules, a Referee-in-Chief Summit and the annual meeting on the Referee Exchange Program.

The rules workshop provided everyone with the chance to understand and thoroughly discuss the new rules for the upcoming hockey season and the reformatting and rewriting of the IIHF Rule Book 2014-2018 that is being worked on and that will be available on for the new season.

“We had good presentations about the major rule changes and how the new rule book will be built. It was attended by all supervisors, directors of officiating and referee-in-chiefs from various countries,” said IIHF Officiating Manager Konstantin Komissarov.

“Most discussions were on hybrid icing and practical situations. In North America they already have experience and we got some good footage from USA Hockey to work with.”

As of now there will be no more automatic calls against the team that ices the puck as in the past. However, opposed to classic touch icing that was used in the NHL until 2013, the offending team can only prevent an icing call by touching the puck if its player has a chance to reach the puck.

This means linesmen will in the future have to make two decisions under the hybrid icing rule. They have to determine that the shot from a player’s own side will cross the icing line in the attacking zone. Second, they must determine whether a defending player or attacking player would be first to touch the puck. This second decision must be made no later than the instant the first of the players reaches the end zone faceoff dots, although the decision can be made earlier. The players’ skates are the determining factor. If there is no race for the puck, icing will be called as soon as the puck crosses the icing line.

“The positions of the blue lines were another important topic with the neutral zone becoming smaller and the offensive zones bigger,” Komissarov added.

The blue lines will be moved from 21.33 to 22.86 metres (75’) from the end of the rink to increase each offensive zone by 1.5 metres while consequently the neutral zone will be 3 metres shorter.

Click here for a story on the approved rule changes.

Before discussing the rule changes, 21 IIHF Referee Supervisors and two Referee Supervisor Trainees held their annual meeting.

“We discussed the evaluation of work at the IIHF championships, we reviewed the management from the IIHF Office based on the requests and we evaluated the work at the IIHF championships from the game officials’ feedback,” Komissarov said.

Usually it’s the supervisors who evaluate referees and linesmen. Through an anonymous online questionnaire, the on-ice officials also evaluated the work of the supervisors at each event.

“It gives us an overview of the quality of referee supervisors,” Komissarov said.

The supervisors also went through different kind of game situations and rule interpretations and shared their inputs from using new supervising techniques and possible obstacles.

To raise the standard among the supervisors from different countries and find common solutions for potential issues, conference calls with all referee supervisors assigned in a category from the Top Division down to Division III were made last season.

“Like that the supervisors work more consistently and questions are reduced. We need to educate not only the on-ice officials but also the supervisors that they are at the same level in modern hockey. We made some steps forward here and will continue to improve,” Komissarov added.

The third meeting was a National Association Referee-in-Chief Summit. “It was very much appreciated to establish close relations, to listen to their needs, problems and their views in what the IIHF is doing in officiating development that we can discuss in the IIHF Officiating Committee,” Komissarov said.

The sessions in Frankfurt concluded with an annual meeting on the IIHF Referee Exchange Program that allows refs from European top leagues to officiate games in other participating countries. The program celebrates its ten-year anniversary and will see some adjustments next season. More on that will be published in a separate story.

Looking for depth in women’s hockey

This week it’s time to hit the ice with officiating programs that are run in Vierumäki, Finland, during both the 2014 IIHF Hockey Development Camp and the 2014 IIHF Women’s High Performance Camp.

Female referees that are new to international ice hockey and haven’t been IIHF-licensed yet get their chance to work in an international environment this week in the Hockey Development Camp that is aimed at helping all IIHF member nations in various fields of hockey.

“We are still short in female officiating. We want to see how the people are. We have people coming for example from China, Taipei, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, Russia, Belgium – different countries from different regions. We have good instructors to teach them, help them during the games and scout for potential referees we can assign in different kinds of championships,” said Komissarov and is convinced that new referees can be found for IIHF events from the 22 women.

In the Women’s High Performance Camp that kicks off on the weekend it will be a different story. IIHF-licensed officials were called although not the very top ones who made it to Sochi 2014. And this is for a reason.

“We invited referees we want to test in the four-man system,” Komissarov said.

The system with two referees and two linesmen officiating games has been used in the top division of the men’s, U20 and U18 World Championships, the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournaments as well as in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A. Speed has been a determining factor. Will the system with two referees now also be introduced for the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in the top division?

“Before we can think about using it we have to test. We will see what we have and how the ladies are working to make a recommendation within the Officiating Committee whether we should go with the four-man system in the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship (top division),” Komissarov said.

“We need to research and get a clear vision and maybe also use one tournament in the European Women’s Champions Cup or international invitational tournaments to try the four-man system.”

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