NIHL Rule Book

Article 4 - NIHL Playing Rules & Regulations

4.1 The Zero Tolerance Policy instituted by USA Hockey is hereby incorporated within these rules by reference and is reported here as a means of emphasis:

In an effort to make ice hockey a more desirable and rewarding experience for all participants, USA Hockey instituted a zero tolerance policy beginning with the 1992-93 season. This policy requires all players, coaches, officials, team officials and administrators and parents/spectators to maintain a sportsmanlike and educational atmosphere before, during and after all USA Hockey-sanctioned games.

Thus, the following points of emphasis must be implemented by all referees and linesmen:

A minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct (zero tolerance) shall be assessed whenever a player:

1. Openly disputes or argues any decision by an official.

2. Uses obscene or vulgar language at any time, including any swearing, even if it is not directed at a particular person.

3. Visually demonstrates any sign of dissatisfaction with an official’s decision. Any time that a player persists in any of these actions, they shall be assessed a misconduct penalty. A game misconduct shall result if the player continues such action.

A minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct (zero tolerance) shall be assessed whenever a coach:

1. Openly disputes or argues any decision by an official.

2. Uses obscene or vulgar language in a boisterous manner to anyone at any time.

3. Visually displays any sign of dissatisfaction with an official’s decision including standing on the boards or standing in the bench doorway with the intent of inciting the officials, players or spectators.

Any time that a coach persists in any of these actions, he/she shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty.

Officials are required to conduct themselves in a businesslike, sportsmanlike, impartial and constructive manner at all times. The actions of an official must be above reproach. Actions such as “baiting” or inciting players or coaches are strictly prohibited.

Officials are ambassadors of the game and must always conduct themselves with this responsibility in mind.

The game will be stopped by game officials when parents/spectators displaying inappropriate and disruptive behavior interfere with other spectators or the game. The game officials will identify violators to the coaches for the purpose of removing parents/ spectators from the spectator’s viewing and game area. Once removed, play will resume. Lost time will not be replaced and violators may be subject to further disciplinary action by the local governing body. This inappropriate and disruptive behavior shall include:

1. Use of obscene or vulgar language in a boisterous manner to anyone at any time.

2. Taunting of players, coaches, officials or other spectators by means of baiting, ridiculing, threat of physical violence or physical violence.

3. Throwing of any object in the spectators viewing area, player’s bench, penalty box or on ice surface, directed in any manner as to create a safety hazard.

4.2 The managers and coaches in charge of a team for a NIHL game (including tournament games) shall be regarded as responsible for their team’s player, goalkeeper and coach eligibility, and for the conduct of their team officials, players and parents during that game and while at the place where the game is being played.

4.3 Each manager, head coach and assistant coach is obligated, when requested, to do whatever possible to assist game officials and others involved in controlling the spectators. NIHL may impose a suspension for the coach or manager or the entire team, or an assigned loss of the game could result from lack of such action in attempting to control any person or group in the arena.

4.4. Each team may dress a maximum of 18 skaters plus two (2) goalkeepers.

4.5 All players must wear numbered uniforms in the proper team colors. Team socks must match. Players shall affix patches and / or stickers to both home and away jerseys and / or other equipment as directed by the Executive Board. Players shall wear the same number on both home and away uniforms for all NIHL league and tournament games. It is the responsibility of each NIHL team to bring both Home and Away jerseys to all league and tournament games. Violations to any provision of this rule may result in a $1,000 fine being assessed to the violating team.

4.5.1 Except during tournament games, visiting teams will wear jerseys that are predominately colored or dark in color and home teams will wear jerseys that are white or predominately light in color. The home team will have the choice of wearing either light or dark jerseys in any tournament game and will notify the visiting team of their choice no less than 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time of the game.

4.6. All players must wear protective equipment required by USA Hockey and AHAI during games and warm-ups. In addition, all players including goalies must wear a cloth-type neck laceration protector during all NIHL games and warm-ups.

4.7. Only players in uniform and Team Officials (up to a maximum of four (4)) shall be permitted to occupy the bench. A Team Official is any person on the player’s bench who is not on the game score sheet as an eligible player or goalkeeper. All such persons must be registered in the current season as a coach with USA Hockey, and must have attained the appropriate certification level as required by USA Hockey and AHAI. A player or goalkeeper on the roster who is unable to play, other than through suspension, may be on the player’s bench without being considered a Team Official, if he/she is wearing the team jersey and all required head and face protective equipment.

4.8 Teams will be assessed a loss and are subject to fines and supplementary discipline if they play a seeding round, regular season or tournament game with an ineligible player.


4.10 Playing Times/Penalty Times.

4.10.1 Playing times for all games (seeding round, regular season and tournament) will be stop-time periods as indicated here, except as set forth in paragraph 4.11, below.

Gold - Silver – Bronze - College Junior Prep - Girls
Penalty Minutes
Period Length Minor Major Misconduct
Mites 11 minutes 1:30 4:00 8:00
Squirts/Girls 10U 11 minutes 1:30 4:00 8:00
Peewees/Girls 12U 12 minutes 2:00 5:00 10:00
Bantams/Girls 14U 13 minutes 2:00 5:00 10:00
Girls 16U / 19U 14 minutes 2:00 5:00 10:00

College Jr. Prep

17 minutes 2:00 5:00 10:00
Penalty Minutes
Period Length Minor Major Misconduct
U8 (Mites) 12 minutes 2:00 5:00 8:00
U10 (Squirts) 12 minutes 2:00 5:00 8:00
U12 (Peewees) 13 minutes 2:00 5:00 10:00
U14 (Bantams) 14 minutes 2:00 5:00 10:00
Premier Select
Penalty Minutes
Period Length Minor Major Misconduct
U10 (Squirts) 13 minutes 2:00 5:00 10:00
U12 (Peewees) 14 minutes 2:00 5:00 10:00
U14 (Bantams) 15 minutes 2:00 5:00 10:00

4.10.2 The host team will schedule at least sixty minutes of rink time for any game with eleven or twelve minute periods; at least seventy minutes of rink time for any game with thirteen minute periods; at least eighty minutes of rink time for any game with fourteen minute periods; and at least ninety minutes of rink time for any game with period lengths in excess of fourteen minutes.

4.10.3 The playing time and all NIHL rules pertaining to playing time for the game must be explained to the referee and the timekeeper by the home team before the start of the game. The minimum time for the warm-up preceding the game shall be no less than five (5) minutes. Further, in the event of an injury, third period time must be agreed upon by both coaches. Notwithstanding the provisions of this rule (4.10), should the competing coaches agree to play the game not in compliance with these playing times, penalty times and clock operation; once the game is started, the results of that game will be absolute and final. The timekeeper will put one (1) minute on the clock between the 1st period and 2nd period and the 2nd period and 3rd period of NIHL games. After the one (1) minute expires, the referees will signal the new period is set to begin and both teams will send their players to the ice surface for the period faceoff.

4.10.4 For NIHL League Games (seeding round, regular season and Tournament) each team shall be entitled to call one (1) minute time out. This is in addition to any “Officials Time-Out.” Teams shall not receive any extra timeout during overtime periods in Tournament Qualifying Games or in Single Elimination Tournament games.

4.11 Slaughter Rule/”Running Clock”

4.11.1 At the point in the third period when a five (5) goal deficit first arises, the clock should be turned off to record the goal and not restarted until the ensuing face-off. While a five (5) goal deficit exists in the third period, the clock should remain running with the following exceptions: Penalties- the clock should be turned off to list the penalty minutes and turned on at face-off. Injury and Official Time-Outs- the clock should be turned off until the ensuing face-off.

4.11.2 The clock should remain running if a goal is scored by either team, and the five (5) goal differential still exists. However, if the losing team scores a goal to narrow the deficit to four (4) goals, then the clock is turned off to record the goal, and not restarted until the ensuing face-off occurs, at which point normal stop time will again be kept.

4.11.3 If play is stopped, the clock continues to run pursuant to this Paragraph 4.11, and a penalty expires, the penalized player should not return to the ice until play resumes.

4.11.4 Invoking the slaughter rule is MANDATORY and is not subject to negotiation between opposing coaches, or referees.

4.11.5 NIHL does not permit running time EXCEPT under the slaughter rule and with respect to Mite cross-ice games. There are NO OTHER EXCEPTIONS! Should a HOME team run out of assigned ice time and be required to vacate the ice surface with time left on the clock, the scorekeeper will note the time remaining on the score sheet. The remaining time left in the game will be played with the responsibility on the offending HOME team to ensure the conclusion of the game in the following manner: The first time the two teams meet at the offending home teams’ rink, the incomplete game will be finished prior to the start of the new game. In the event the only remaining game between the two teams is at the affected visiting teams’ rink, the affected visiting team will make every effort to conclude the unfinished game prior to the start of their scheduled game, and any additional cost to have the original game completed will be borne by the original home team. If no games remain between the two teams, it shall be the responsibility of the original home team to conclude the game prior to the season’s end or the seeding round end.

4.12 The home team is responsible for furnishing a scorekeeper, a timekeeper and referees, or referee and linesman. For all games, other than Mite cross-ice games, at least two on-ice officials are required for every NIHL game. NIHL league games cannot be played with only (1) one on-ice official.

4.13 In all NIHL games, the officials must be qualified, pursuant to USA Hockey guidelines and as follows:

4.13.1 Using two (2) referees, at least one must be Level 2 and the other must be at Level 1 or higher.

4.13.2 Using a three man system, the Referee must be at least Level 2 and the linesman may be at Level 1 or higher.

4.13.3 In addition, there will be no parent or child or sibling relationship with regards to a referee and a player; no parent or sibling may referee a game in which their child or sibling is a participant.

4.14 Not less than fifteen (15) minutes before the game the manager or coach of the home team must verify that the officials are qualified and tell the visiting coach or manager of the fact. In the event properly qualified officials are not present for the game, the home organization must explain the circumstances to the coach of the visiting team. Any question about the qualification of the officials must be raised before the start of the game, and if these questions cannot be satisfactorily answered and the officials are not deemed qualified to officiate the scheduled League game, the game shall be played as a practice game, or the visiting team may leave the rink and require the game to be rescheduled. Once a game has been started with the understanding that it is an official NIHL game, it shall be deemed that the officials have been automatically accepted by both teams. When games are not played because the home team does not have required, qualified officials, the home team shall have the responsibility to make concessions to the convenience of the visiting team in rescheduling.

4.15 Game Misconduct Penalty - A player or coach who receives a game misconduct penalty in a League game must serve that penalty by being suspended from the next already scheduled NIHL game, If that team's next scheduled sanctioned USA HOCKEY game is not a NIHL game, the player or coach must still serve a suspension in the next already scheduled NIHL game (in addition to the next scheduled sanctioned USA HOCKEY game). The only exception to this rule is when the next scheduled USA HOCKEY game is an AHAI state tournament game. In that circumstance, the suspension may be served in the AHAI state tournament game and the player or coach does not have to serve a suspension in a NIHL tournament game that is scheduled to be played after the AHAI state tournament game. A Game Misconduct Penalty may not be served in a practice game. Any Game Misconduct may come under the review of the Rules and Ethics Committee. Documentation must be provided to Rules and Ethics if the suspended game is not a NIHL game. For clarification of this rule, contact the Rules and Ethics Committee.

4.16 A player who is assessed a penalty in a NIHL league or NIHL tournament game for “Fighting” or “Fisticuffs” will be suspended for the next three (3) already scheduled sanctioned USA Hockey games, excluding practice games, and not including the game in which the penalty was assessed. The three game suspension must be served in NIHL games or non-NIHL tournament games or any combination of such games, but not in practice games.

4.17. The official NIHL score sheets are for NIHL league, qualifying, or tournament game use only. Do not use them for any practice, house or non-NIHL games. Each team’s manager is responsible for making sure that all copies of the NIHL official score sheet are filled out completely using the proper name of the team as given by NIHL, Level, Tier within metallic level (if applicable), and are signed by both coaches and all referees. Each score sheet must contain all rostered players in numerical order. The following designations must be entered on all copies of the score sheet next to the player’s name when that player is not skating: Absent – ABS, Injured – INJ, Suspension – SUSP. In addition, all suspended players must be listed on the score sheet under suspensions.

4.17.1 When a player or coach incurs a Game Misconduct penalty or fighting penalty in a NIHL game, it is the responsibility of the team manager for the team on which that player is rostered to provide a legible, PDF copy of the scoresheet from the game in question electronically (through the link on the NIHL website) to the NIHL Rules & Ethics Committee. The team's manager must also provide legible, scanned PDF copies of the scoresheets electronically (through the link on the NIHL website) from the games in which the player or coach serves the suspensions. Each team's manager is also responsible for reporting to the NIHL Rules & Ethics Committee (via e-mail to when any player or coach on the team incurs three or more Game Misconduct Penalties. The team manager must provide this report in writing to the Committee within 24 hours after the third Game Misconduct Penalty is incurred or before the next NIHL game is to be played by the team, whichever deadline occurs first. The team manager must report any additional Game Misconduct Penalties for that player or coach to the Rules & Ethics Committee immediately after such penalties are incurred (via e-mail to Violations of this reporting requirement are subject to a minimum fine of $500 per occurrence.

4.17.2 Scoresheets for all NIHL games played outside of Illinois must be submitted to the NIHL Rules and Ethics Committee electronically through the link on the NIHL website. The HOME TEAM is required to submit a legible PDF file of the scoresheet within 24 hours after the game is concluded. Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in a $250 fine to the member organization involved.

4.18 - “Peoria” rule.

4.18.1 For purposes of this paragraph, “Affected Clubs” shall mean … Bloomington, Dubuque, Pekin, Peoria, South Bend, Champaign, Quad Cities and any non-member organization that may, from time to time, be designated by the Executive Board as stated in paragraph The following, non-member Clubs and/or teams have been designated as "Affected Clubs":

Badger City, Fox Motors, Lady Cyclones, Lady Liberty, Madison Mavericks and Maidens of Mayhem.

4.18.2 PEORIA RULE- Teams, from clubs not designated as "Affected Clubs" in paragraph 4.18.1 shall not be required to travel to the “Affected Clubs” “HOME” games. Paragraph 4.18.2 shall not apply in the Midget Major, Midget Minor, and Bantam, playing divisions, nor in Tournament games; including first round games in single game elimination formatted tournaments. Additionally, Paragraph 4.18.2 shall not apply to any games played at the Premier Select level. EXCEPTTION TO PARAGRAPH - As to Dubuque and Quad Cities, Paragraph 4.18.2 shall apply to ALL TEAMS, regardless of level of play.

4.18.3 Rockford and Kenosha are prohibited from invoking Paragraph 4.18.2 at any level of play.

4.18.4 Should a “HOME” game for “Affected Clubs” be played at the "Visiting" club’s home rink, then the "Visiting" club shall pay for the ice as well as paying for and scheduling the officials. The “Affected Clubs” may, if they so choose, provide minor (off-ice) officials.

4.18.5 If a game cannot be played at another club's home rink and must be rescheduled because no on-ice officials are present for the game or because ice is not available for the game, the "VISITING" team, which decided not to travel, will be assessed a fine, determined by NIHL's Rules and Ethics Committee, of an amount not less than $250.

4.18.6 All games played in Rockford will be scheduled during a weekend unless otherwise agreed upon by both teams.

4.19 – Posting Game Results.

4.19.1 Scores for all NIHL Seeding Round and Regular Season games must be recorded on NIHL’s electronic recording system by the HOME TEAM within 48 hours after the game is concluded, Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in a $100 fine to the member organization involved.

4.19.2 If any HOME TEAM fails to record the score of any game on NIHL’s electronic system within the deadline set by NIHL for that Seeding Round or Regular Season, the result of that game will be considered a LOSS for the HOME TEAM, subject to review by the Executive Board. The Executive Board will determine Regular Season final standings based on scores recorded on the NIHL electronic system and losses imposed for failures to record game scores, and thereafter the Statistician, in conjunction with Tournament Committee chair, will meet and arrange the pairings based on the final and approved standings. Any challenges to the Regular Season final standings must be made by the member organization’s President or NIHL Representative directly to the NIHL President within twenty-four (24) hours after final standings are announced on the NIHL website. The Tournament pairings will be announced after review of any challenges.

4.19.3 A minimum $300 fine will be imposed for any game score that is not recorded by the HOME TEAM manager on the NIHL electronic system by the end of seeding round or regular season deadline set by the Executive Board. The final determination and levying of any fines will be made by the NIHL Rules & Ethics Committee.