Playing by Two Different Sets of Rules

High school hockey rules do not match USA hockey rules.

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Spencer Osgood, Ranger Review Staff

For 2021, USA Hockey made several rule changes as well as certain rule “clarifications.” USA Hockey is the “governing body for organized ice hockey.” They do not govern high school hockey but govern travel/juniors leagues, with a focus on youth hockey.

These new rules are in place through 2024-2025. These rules were enacted with the purpose of improving safety and player development. The major changes are things like the removal of delayed offsides and icing the puck on penalty kills, as well as changes to body checking. From my experience this fall, many travel/club hockey players struggled with these rule changes since they alter the game in a pretty large way and differ from how they are used to competing during a high school season.

Although these changes could possibly improve player development, it is counterintuitive for the high school players that play travel hockey to get ready for the high school season. Players could create habits based on these new rules, which could negatively affect them during their high school season. This could be why the general opinion from the players was negative.

However, it is a possibility that they could help the players improve even if they don’t like playing with the rules. For example, many teams had to spend time practicing the new offside rules, which could potentially be beneficial to player development. But again, during the high school season, players will not have to play with these rules. Players who play travel hockey to get ready for high school and have fun, generally are not pleased with the new rules.

As someone who has played with these new rules, I would agree with the general consensus of other players. The rules could be appropriate for players not in high school, but it is not ideal for players to have to switch between different sets of rules.