Ahhhh Icing. Isn’t that what is on the cake? What is icing in hockey? One of the more interesting rules and a fun one to explain to anyone that is new to Ice Hockey. So, what is Icing? When did start? Is Youth Hockey different than the NHL? All great questions!
The NHL official rule:
“Icing – For the purpose of this rule, the center red line will divide the ice into halves. Should any player of a team, equal or superior in numerical strength (power-play) to the opposing team, shoot, bat or deflect the puck from his own half of the ice beyond the goal line of the opposing team, play shall be stopped. For the purpose of deflected pucks, this only applies when the puck was originally propelled down the ice by the offending team” In the picture below, A would NOT be Icing, player B is icing
The icing rule was entered in the rule book in 1937 as the result of many games and a few in particular when a team with the lead would “ice” the puck. This was extraordinary in a game on November 18, 1931 when the New York Americans protected a 3-2 lead over the Bruins by icing the puck over 50 times. The teams met later that year and the Bruins iced the puck 87 times in a scoreless draw. Fans were furious!!! This rule was put in place to make the game more interesting. The league and fans agreed that paying to watch professionals play to just ice the puck, will not be tolerated.
So, does icing work the same way in youth hockey? Yes and no. The rule above was slightly modified last year. If a team has fewer players (shorthanded) than the opposing team the icing rule is enforced. USA Hockey modified this rule last year for players 14U and younger. It is no longer legal to ice the puck when a team is shorthanded. Wow! That is a big change to the penalty kill. USA hockey has a reason for this.
“the change will encourage greater skill development for 10U, 12U and 14U players. These young athletes are in their prime skill development windows and will benefit greatly from the increased emphasis this rule change places on promoting puck possession, puck protection and play-making (as opposed to merely firing the puck down the ice, which is a low-skill tactic). Second, the change prevents a penalized team from gaining an exception to a rule (icing) that is in effect while teams are at even strength.”
There is, was, and will be great debate about this change. USA hockey reason is quite good. Do we want to see younger players just dump the puck? Ice time is valuable and to have players dump the puck is not worth it. I’ve grown to like the rule more each week. The icing rule makes teams pay the price more for penalties. It would be interesting, and let the debate begin if this rule should be changed in levels above 14U? Juniors, International, AHL, or the NHL! Fans pay big money to watch hockey. Do we want to see the puck dumped in the zone? It would also be a larger consequence of penalties.