NIHL Rule Book

Article 2 - Team & Player Registration & Eligibility

2.1 The privilege of playing in NIHL is limited to teams rostered by member organizations, and to teams of non-member organizations granted playing privileges by the Executive Board to play in the Midget and Girls Gold playing divisions. Teams of non-member organizations must apply to the NIHL Executive Board for permission to play in the Midget or Girls Gold playing divisions. Such application shall be filed with the President along with a non-refundable application fee of $250 and a cash bond in the amount of $1,000 to be deposited with the league Treasurer. The bond will be held for the account of the applying team for one season. The bond will be used to satisfy any outstanding charges to the applying team, including a $1,000 charge to any team declaring to schedule prior to or at the September Board of Directors meeting and failing to field the team at the seeding round scheduling meeting. The Executive Board shall exercise its discretion whether to accept the application. Teams of non-member organizations must pay a participation fee in an amount determined by the Executive Board, as well as the usual team fee for the playing division. Such participating teams are subject to all of NIHL’s Playing Rules and Regulations and By-Laws, including rostering, player eligibility, scheduling duties and obligations, NIHL Tournament, and disciplinary rules.

2.2 Each organization shall provide, to the league Secretary, contact information of its President, League Representative, League Alternate Representative, Treasurer and Registrar no later than August 1st of each year and will notify the Secretary within 10 days of any change thereof. Contact information shall include name, mailing address, telephone number(s), email addresses(s) and other information as requested by the Secretary. Failure to comply with this request shall subject the member organization to a $500 fine. Failure to comply after the fine has been assessed shall subject the organization to an additional fine and referral to the Rules & Ethics Committee for appropriate action.

2.3 Unless otherwise required by the Executive Board, each organization shall declare the final number of teams that it will field, at each level, at the September NIHL regularly scheduled Board of Directors Meeting. If an organization fails to field a team after declaring to do so or adds a team (which is permitted to schedule) after the September meeting, that member organization shall be fined $250 for each team involved. Any organization that makes a change on or after the day of seeding round scheduling will be assessed a $525 fine for each team involved.

2.4 Players, and/or coaches, shall not participate in any NIHL game while under suspension by USA Hockey, AHAI (or the equivalent governing body of organizations located outside Illinois), NIHL, or any other league in which the team may participate. Participation includes “communications with the bench”, or “sitting on the bench.” Communications includes that by use of hand signals, headsets, or any other means of physical or electronic communication. Any infraction of this rule shall result in the mandatory appearance before the NIHL Rule & Ethics Committee.

2.5 To play for a member NIHL team, a player must be eligible to appear on an official roster for that team in a Tier II State Tournament sanctioned by a governing organization or, if none, a roster approved by the NIHL Registrar. Any player who does not live in the State of Illinois is subject to the same rules and restrictions imposed by AHAI on Illinois residents.

2.6 Except for Mite teams, each team manager shall enter into the NIHL online scheduling system all required information for each of their team's players, coaches and manager(s) in the area for roster management by October 15. The deadline for managers of Mite teams to enter information into the NIHL online scheduling system will be determined and announced by the Executive Board. This information shall be considered the Completed Roster for the team for purposes of participating in all NIHL games.

2.6.1 Any member organization that does not satisfy this requirement will receive the following fine: $25 for each team for which the electronic information is not received.

2.7 Once a player and/or parent/guardian have signed the roster, that player is “frozen” to that team.

2.7.1 Players may be added to a Completed Roster only with the prior approval of AHAI and by submitting written confirmation of AHAI approval of the roster addition submitted to the NIHL Registrar via fax or e-mail and an update of the team's roster on the NIHL online scheduling system to include said player. No roster changes will be accepted by NIHL after December 31.

2.7.2 Any member organization who has not submitted the necessary forms to the NIHL Registrar for adding players to the completed roster will be subject to the following fine: Up to a maximum of $750 for each player added and/or loss of games in which the player(s) participated, following a mandatory appearance of the organization’s President and Registrar before the Rules & Ethics Committee.

2.8 Each member organization shall submit a completed Bantam Instructional Checking Clinic Declaration form for each of their Bantam teams on or before Seeding Round Scheduling for the current season. This completed form shall contain the printed name of each first year Bantam player followed by their parent’s signature, as well as the signature of the organization’s President and Registrar, declaring that these players have participated in at least two (2) hours of an instructional checking clinic prior to the beginning of the season. Any member organization who has not submitted a completed Bantam Instructional Checking Clinic Declaration (with signatures) for the current season will receive the following fine: $25 for each team not received. Goalies must participate in the clinic and sign the Declaration Form. Mandatory checking clinic is not required for teams comprised entirely of females.

2.9 NIHL shall conduct competition at the highest level of play for Tier II teams for the Mite, Squirt, Pee Wee, Bantam, and Midget age classifications. The Executive Board may establish additional criteria for teams to participate in any of the competition levels.

2.9.1 As determined by the Executive Board, NIHL may conduct competition at various levels of play, i.e. Premier Select, Elite, Gold, Silver and Bronze for any one or more Mite, Squirt, Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget Minor and Major age classifications.

2.9.2 Once the season has begun, subject to the NIHL Tournament Committee’s recommendation and Executive Board approval, teams can be moved between Levels in order to make for a more competitive season.

2.9.2.1 Except as delineated in paragraph 2.10.2.1, only teams electing to declare and play in the Premier Select level for the seeding round in each season will be considered for play at that level for the corresponding regular season.

2.9.3 At age levels where NIHL hosts more than one (1) competition level, a member organization may not place its first team at that age level into the lowest competition level without petitioning the NIHL Executive Board. This petition is due prior to the September Board of Directors meeting and will include information about the team’s players, an explanation as to why this team should be allowed to play at the lowest level, and an acceptance that the petitioning team will be ineligible for the NIHL Tournament and Awards for that season. The petition must be signed by the petitioning club’s President, NIHL Representative, Hockey Director (if applicable), and the team’s Head Coach. Decisions governed by this rule may be appealed to the NIHL Rules & Ethics Committee.

2.9.4 At an age level which has more than one (1) competition level of play, and in the case of a team being the only team from the member organization participating in that level, should that team be moved to the lowest level, either voluntarily or by action of NIHL once the season has begun, the team shall be ineligible to participate in the NIHL tournament for the level the team was playing at the end of the season. Member organizations may petition the Rules & Ethics Committee for a waiver of this rule on a case by case basis.

2.10 Premier Select Level

2.10.1 In any season, a maximum of twelve (12) teams will be eligible to play in the Premier Select Level in each age classification offered, as determined by the Executive Board, which may include any of the following:

U10 (Squirt) Minor, U10 (Squirt) Major, U12 (Peewee) Minor, U12 (Peewee) Major, U14 (Bantam) Minor, U14 (Bantam) Major, U15, U16 and U18, each as defined by USA Hockey.

2.10.2 Criteria considered to determine inclusion in the Premier Select level shall be as follows:

2.10.2.1 For the first year of implementation, teams will be placed in accordance with paragraph 2.9.2 at the conclusion of seeding round play. In subsequent years, at the youngest level offered, teams will be placed in accordance with paragraph 2.9.2; At all other age classifications, teams will be placed as follows:

Teams that finish regular season play in the top one half (1/2) of their respective level (as determined by final, regular season standings) AND the year-end NIHL/Blackhawks tournament champion at that level (not otherwise eligible by virtue of their standings’ placement), in the immediately preceding season shall, automatically be placed in the Premier Select level at the age classification one year older than that of the previous season. As an example, … A team finishing in the top one half of the U12 (Peewee) Major, Premier Select level and the tournament champion if not one of the top one-half teams, in one season will, automatically, be placed in the U14 (Bantam) Minor Premier Select level the following season. Other teams, if any, will be placed in accordance with paragraph 2.9.2 at the conclusion of seeding round play.

Teams that are automatically placed are not required to participate in seeding round play.

2.10.3 Teams affiliated with a member club that has applied for admittance to any other Tier 2 league, sanctioned by USA Hockey, AHAI (or any other equivalent, State Affiliate) or otherwise, are not eligible for inclusion.

2.11 Teams comprised entirely of females, other than those affiliated with Tier I organizations, shall play in age-appropriate, Girls' Gold Divisions only, except as indicated in paragraph 2.11.1 of this same section below.

2.11.1 Tier II Girls 10U and Tier II Girls 12U teams may play in age-appropriate, youth divisions (not lower than the highest, Silver division offered) upon the granting of privileges by the Executive Board. Privileges may be granted by the Executive Board upon review of a petition submitted, to the League President, by an organization's President or NIHL Representative providing rationale to support the belief that a team can effectively compete at such level. Such petition must be submitted no later than ten (10) days prior to the September Board of Directors meeting. Nothing in this paragraph shall prohibit the reassignment of a team to a Girls Division, for Regular Season play; pursuant to Paragraph 2.9.2 of this same section above.

2.11.2 No Tier II Girls team will be permitted to compete at an age level older than is age-appropriate, in a Girls Division, except upon the granting of privileges by the Executive Board. Privileges may be granted by the Executive Board upon review of a petition submitted, to the League President, by an organization's President or NIHL Representative providing rationale to support the belief that a team can effectively compete at such level. Such petition must be submitted no later than ten (10) days prior to the September Board of Directors meeting. Nothing in this paragraph shall prohibit the reassignment of a team to an age-appropriate Girls Division, for Regular Season play; pursuant to Paragraph 2.9.2 of this same section above.

2.11.3 Tier I organizations shall be permitted to field only teams comprised entirely of females and, then, only at the Gold level; in age appropriate youth divisions. The one exception to this rule is at the U12 level where the Tier I Girls will be permitted to seed at the Premier Select Level if they meet qualifying parameters as set forth in rule 2.10.

2.11.4 Teams comprised entirely of females may not “play down” nor may they enter at the Youth Bronze level as the Girls Gold division is of the same caliber of play. This rule shall be waived at a specific age level only if less than 5 girl’s teams enter at that specific Girls Gold age level. Only the teams that have entered at that level – by the September Board of Directors meeting – will have the rule waived for them.

2.12 Except in situations involving female players who are dual-rostered to a team in the Girls Gold division and to teams in the youth division pursuant to paragraph 2.12.2 of this same Section below, players may not play for more than one (1) NIHL member organization.

2.12.1 No player may be on the roster of more than one (1) NIHL team. There are only two exceptions to this rule.

The first exception is for goalies:

2.12.1.1 In addition to members of the second registered team who are identified as goalkeepers, a player may be rostered on the second team only as a back-up goalie. This must be clearly designated on the roster approved by AHAI (or the equivalent governing body of organizations located outside Illinois). Designations for goalkeepers shall be “G” (Goalkeeper) and “BUG” (Back-up Goalkeeper).

2.12.1.2 The BUG can only play as BUG when the primary goalie is unable to play due to injury, illness, or misfortune.

2.12.1.3 A BUG may not play in any NIHL Tournament games, unless approved by the Tournament Committee.

2.12.1.4 The BUG must be rostered on a team within the same organization and playing at a skill level below the team on which he or she is rostered as a BUG. When the organization has multiple Tier II teams playing at the same age level in NIHL, the back-up goalie must come from the team at the same age group and next lower skill level. For the NIHL team within an organization at the lowest skill level of any age category, the BUG must come from the organization's NIHL team at the next lower age category and highest skill level. A Mite goalie may be rostered as a BUG on a Squirt team in this situation only.

Example: A Squirt “A” goaltender may be rostered as a Back-Up Goalkeeper for a Squirt “AA” team. A Squirt "B" goaltender may be rostered as a back-up goalkeeper for a Squirt "A" team. At the lowest skill level Squirt team, the Back-up goalkeeper may come from the Mite "AA" team. All Back-Up Goaltenders must come from the same organization. Do not consider NIHL’s metallic divisions when rostering a Back-Up Goaltender; use only USA Hockey’s “AA” and “A” designations.

The second exception is for females:

2.12.2 Except for goalies, a female player may be rostered to a maximum of 2 teams, with a maximum of one team playing in a Girls Gold division. A female goalie may be rostered to 2 teams pursuant to this paragraph, and may also be rostered as a back-up goalie on a third team subject to all the conditions set forth in the preceding subsections 2.12.1.1 through 2.12.1.4 of this rule.