Table of contents:
I. League Mission
Our goal is to promote the game of ice hockey through the introduction and education of new players. The outcome of the games, though important, is not what we are striving for. If, at season’s end, a player can reflect on the season and see improvement in his/her play, we have achieved our goal. Simply put, we want a person to BECOME A BETTER HOCKEY PLAYER.
NMHockey is a USA Hockey Program. All Players in the NMHockey League must be 18 years or older to participate. Non-check hockey with contact and slapshots permitted will be played. All games are played using the current USA Hockey Official Rules of Ice Hockey, except as fortified below in the NMHockey League policies and procedures.
a. Zero Tolerance
The NMHockey League fully supports and enforces the USA Hockey Zero Tolerance Policy.
A penalty (Zero Tolerance) shall be assessed whenever a player:
- Openly disputes or argues any decision by an official.
- Uses obscene or vulgar language at any time, including any swearing, even if it is not directed at a particular person.
- 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.
b. USA Hockey Rule Fortifications
- Game misconducts: All game misconduct penalties (goalies and skaters) require immediate removal from the game and carry an automatic 1 game suspension per USAHockey rules (Rule 404b). NMHockey will impose a 1 year probation and the league Disciplinary Committee (consisting of the divisional Vice-Commissioners) will review and determine if any supplementary suspensions are warranted.
NMHockey views all games of equal value. Therefore the weight and duration of suspensions are independent of whether the action occurred during the regular season, playoffs, or championship games.
2. Disciplinary review: All game misconducts are given to the disciplinary committee for further review. This review may result in additional game suspensions, longer probation, or removal from the league. The review process is not taken lightly and all reviews require considerable effort and time to gather information and make fair decisions. Because of the effort and consideration put toward the review, the league requests that all players respect the disciplinary action given and not harass the committee in any way during or after the process is complete.
3. Probation: All game misconducts carry an additional consequence of a minimum of 1 year probation. During probation, any additional incident found to be harmful to other players/league or an additional game misconduct may result in further suspensions or removal from the league with no refund.
4. Fighting (Rule 615): USA Hockey defines fighting as “(Note) A punch, or an attempted punch, thrown by any player in the direction of an opponent, regardless as to whether contact is made, is considered fighting.” Any player receiving a major penalty for fisticuffs shall automatically also be assessed a game misconduct penalty. NMHockey will also levy an additional minimum suspension of 2 games for any player receiving this penalty and go to the disciplinary committee for further review.
5. Abuse of officials (Rule 601): A game misconduct may be given for abuse of officials. Any player not designated as the captain that argues or disputes a call with the referee may be assessed a penalty. However, given that this is a developmental league, players may ask for a brief developmental explanation of a call in order to advance their understanding of the game when appropriate (e.g. in between periods or after the game).
6. Injury resulting from a penalty: Penalties (e.g. boarding, body checking, charging, checking from behind, cross checking, elbowing, head contact, high stick, hooking, kneeing, slashing, tripping) that result in an injury as determined by the officials carry an automatic game misconduct per USAHockey rules. Any player determined to have faked an injury to get an opposing player a game misconduct will be sent to the disciplinary committee for review.
7. Leaving the player’s bench or penalty bench (Rule 625): No player may leave the players’ bench or penalty bench at any time during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation. A major plus a game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player who leaves the players’ bench or penalty bench during an altercation.
8. NMHockey reserves the right to dismiss any player from the league with a pro-rated refund if they are deemed disruptive or found to be a detriment to their division or league as a whole. The decision to dismiss a player from the league may or may not be reviewed by the league disciplinary committee.
- Players (both skaters and goalies) receiving suspensions will serve their suspension in consecutive games for the team that they are rostered.
- Players participating in multiple leagues will serve their suspension across all teams they are rostered. For example, if a player receives an 8 game suspension for a game misconduct in the D division and also plays in the C division, they will be suspended for their following 8 games across both divisions (e.g. 4 games in the D and 4 games in the C).
- Any player serving a suspension is ineligible to substitute in any game at any level for the duration of their suspension. Players may be prohibited from participating in other league functions, such as pick-up games, during their suspension.
- A substitute receiving a game misconduct who is NOT rostered to any NMHockey team may not be allowed to substitute in the league again.
- A substitute receiving a game misconduct who IS rostered to another NMHockey team will serve the suspension on their rostered team(s).
- If a suspension is given that is longer that the remaining number of games for the season, the suspension must be served at the beginning of the following season. Players will be allowed to attend their clinic/practice but will not be allowed to play in games until their suspension is complete.
- Players who quit the league before their probation or suspension is completed will be required to serve the remainder of their probation once they return. In addition, if less than a year has passed they will also be required to serve the remainder of their suspension. If more than a year has passed, they must instead pay a fine equivalent to current skater league fees for the number of remaining games in their suspension. Players will be required to pay the equivalent fine before being allowed to substitute in the league.
d. Discipline Committee
The Disciplinary Committee is responsible for arbitrating when on or off ice infractions occur related to the NMHockey League. The committee is comprised of the Vice-Commissioners and the Executive Disciplinary Committee members. Although, the duty of the Disciplinary Committee is to arbitrate and impose game suspensions when warranted, this is not the primary goal. The league strives to use this as an opportunity to learn where the league can improve and to mentor players in hopes of preventing a repeat of these actions.
1. Committee Members: See the League Staff link.
2. Discipline Committee Review Initiation: All game misconducts will be reviewed by the committee. However, any infraction on or off the ice regardless of severity may be escalated by committee members for review. Information relating to the infraction will be gathered. This includes; written or verbal statements by the individual(s) committing the infraction, referees, off-ice officials and witnesses.
3. Discipline Committee Decision Process: The Disciplinary Committee shall meet to review the information gathered and make a recommendation to the Executive Disciplinary Committee on course of action. The League Commissioner shall notify the player of the committee decision.
e. USA Hockey Registration
USA Hockey registration/membership is required for all participants. All players on each team’s roster, including substitutes, must be registered with USA Hockey. USA Hockey membership provides player insurance. Everyone participating in a league game or practice must be a USA Hockey member or the coverage for all players is invalidated. All players who participate in the league must REGISTER individually on-line with USA Hockey. Participants must e-mail the confirmation they receive from USA Hockey to the League Commissioner before participating in any league activities – games or practices.
III. Rosters & Team Formation
Teams are formed prior to the beginning of each season by random draw. Prior to the draw, all skaters and goalies in each league are ranked into a small number of levels. Each team captain or representative then randomly draws player’s names from a hat in a manner that guarantees all teams have then same number of players from each level. This is to try to achieve parity of teams within a division, reduce animosity between players, and allow new players to easily enter the league.
To keep the random nature of the team formation, NMHockey does not allow players to be drawn with other players except in the following situations:
- By relation: Father/Son, Brothers, Husband/Wife, etc…
- Carpooling: Consideration may be given to players who carpool to the games. Players should discuss situation with the league commissioner prior to the draft.
- Special Decree: If you have a special circumstance, you may discuss it with the league commissioner prior to the draft.
In no case may more than 2 players be drawn together and both players must be appropriate to the division in which they play.
NMHockey rosters 10 skaters and one goalie per team to ensure players receive a generous amount of icetime. Players whose skill level is not comparable to that of their peers may be reassigned or removed from the roster with a prorated refund at the commissioner’s discretion. Any team losing a player during the season, for any reason, will have a new player rostered to their team, chosen by the league commissioner.
IV. Team Captains
Each team has a captain who is selected by the league commissioner based on recommendations from players or previous captains. Captains are league representatives and are not advocates for their team to the league commissioner. Captains are requested to have a “C” on their jersey, even if the letter is temporary and made of tape. If the team captain is not present, the team will appoint a temporary captain for the game and notify the opposing team captain, referees and scorekeepers before the start of the game. Per USA Hockey rules, goalies may not serve as captain. Only the team captain may discuss issues or calls with the referee. Only the team captain may call a time-out.
A substitute is any player playing with a team on which they are not officially rostered. Any rostered player that cannot make their game shall notify their team captain no later than 5PM the day PRIOR to game. Players who miss three games in a season without notifying their captain may be replaced on the team roster without a refund. Player substitutions for individual games will be coordinated ONLY through the league commissioner or designee prior to each game. All substitutes must be approved by the league commissioner or designee. Substitutes are chosen based on matched skill level. However, new players to the league may be brought out to sub where their skill level is unknown.
All league policies apply to ANY player subbing.
Any team acquiring a substitute without league commissioner or designee approval risks forfeiture of that game. In addition, any captain and/or players knowingly acquiring an unapproved sub or subbing themselves without prior approval are subject to a game suspension. Exception: A team missing a goalie may acquire a goalie sub of comparable level (plays in the same or lower division) without commissioner approval. We ask that players not solicit themselves as a sub to teams skating short.
a. Substitute requirements
All substitute players must wear all the required hockey equipment and provide a current copy of their USA Hockey registration via email to the league commissioner prior to playing. Substitute players must own a solid black or blue and a solid white jersey to participate. The substitution fee for rostered skaters and rostered/non-rostered goalies is $10, non-rostered skaters fee is $15. Players must check-in with and pay the scorekeepers prior to warm ups. All league policies apply to ANY player subbing.
If a player is new to hockey and has not yet purchased equipment, they may inquire about borrowing equipment as the league does have gear to loan. USA Hockey registration can be waived for new players the first time they play, but they must have current registration to sub thereafter.
b. Substitute eligibility
Substitute skaters and goalies will be permitted in all games including playoffs and championship/consolation. However, substitute skaters are not eligible to participate in shoot-outs in any game.
c. Substitutes and game suspensions
- Any player serving a suspension is ineligible to substitute in any game at any level for the duration of their suspension.
- Teams are not permitted a substitute for any suspended skater for the first game they are suspended if the suspension occurred for actions that occurred in that team’s game. However, if a team’s goalie receives a game misconduct, they will receive a substitute for all games of the suspension. This includes playoff and championship games.
- A substitute receiving a game misconduct who is NOT rostered to any NMHockey team may not be allowed to substitute in the league again.
- A substitute receiving a game misconduct who IS rostered to another NMHockey team will serve the suspension on their rostered team(S), but their rostered team will be allowed to receive a substitute player for all games.
- The Discipline Committee may render additional decisions based on the reports and game notes.
(Rule 304a) All players are required to wear full hockey equipment. Players not wearing the required equipment will not be allowed to play until the proper equipment is in place.
a. Required equipment
(all equipment must be approved for ice hockey use)
- Elbow pads
- Mid-section protection – hockey pants or girdle/shell
- Knee/shin protectors
- Ice Hockey Skates
b. Strongly recommended, but optional equipment
- Mouth guard
- Full or partial face protection
- Shoulder/chest protection
c. League Jerseys
All ROSTERED players are required to purchase a set (one blue and one white) of the official league jerseys. Due to expected delivery times for new jerseys, rostered players may request loaner jerseys until their jerseys arrive. For more information, click here. Substitute players must own a solid black or blue and a solid white jersey to participate.
VII. Game format
Games will be played in three periods, each with a 20 minute run time clock, plus an additional 5-minute 3-on-3 sudden death overtime period if the game is tied after regulation play. If the game remains tied at the end of the five (5) minute overtime period, the teams will proceed to a three-round shootout. After each team has taken three shots, if the score remains tied, the shootout will proceed to a “sudden death” format. All games include a 5 minute warmup and a 1 ½ minute break between periods. Run time is stopped upon penalties, injuries, 2 minute stop clock, team time out, captain’s time out or at referee’s discretion.
Any game that is tied after 60 minutes of regulation play shall proceed to a 5-minute sudden death overtime period, to be played at 3-on-3. If the game remains tied after the 5-minute sudden death period, the teams shall proceed to a shootout.
- In the first phase of the shootout, each captain shall select 3 players to participate in the shootout.
- The home team shall select which team shoots first in the shootout and that team will go first in all subsequent rounds.
- No player in the penalty box at the end of the 5-minute sudden death period shall be eligible to participate in the shootout in any round.
- No substitute player(s) shall be eligible to participate in the shootout in any round.
- Shooters from each team shall alternate until all 3 shooters selected by their captains have shot, unless the game is decided before all shooters have shot.
- If the teams remain tied after the 3-player shootout, then the shootout shall proceed to additional rounds of one shooter each until the game is decided.
- In each additional round, each team will select a shooter.
- If the first shooter scores, the second shooter is allowed the opportunity to tie.
- If only one of the two shooters score, the scoring team wins. If both or neither shooter scores, the shootout continues to the next round.
- When proceeding to additional rounds of the shootout, no player may shoot again until all eligible shooters have shot.
- Once a team has proceeded through its entire roster of shooters, shooters may be selected in any order by the captain, provided that in the next progression through the roster that no player may shoot until all players have shot in that next progression through the roster.
- During the regular season, the loser of the shootout will receive 1 point for an overtime loss while the winner will receive 2 points.
- During the playoffs, games are recorded as win/loss. No overtime loss points will be awarded.
- Only the single game winning goal is recorded as a goal for the team and for the shooter.
b. Penalties in Overtime:
Manpower during overtime will be adjusted to reflect the situation in the game, but at no time will a team have fewer than three (3) skaters on the ice during the overtime period. If a minor penalty is assessed during overtime, the teams will play 4-on-3. If a second minor penalty is assessed to the same team during overtime, the teams will play 5-on-3. As these penalties expire and there are no stoppages, the penalized team adds players until play is 5-on-5. The manpower is adjusted accordingly at stoppages in play to get teams back to 3-on-3 play.
Case 1. Team A is assessed a penalty during regulation that carries over to the overtime period. Team B enters the overtime period on a power play, manpower would be adjusted from 5 on 4 at the end of regulation to 4-on-3 at the start of overtime. When Team A’s penalty expires, Team A adds a player to the ice making the manpower 4-on-4. At the first stoppage of play after the penalty expiration, manpower is adjusted back to 3-on-3 (providing no other penalty has been assessed.)
Case 2. Team A is assessed a penalty during the overtime period. Manpower is adjusted from 3-on-3 to give Team B a 4-on-3 power play. When Team A’s penalty expires, Team A adds an additional player to the ice making the manpower 4-on-4. At the first stoppage of play after the penalty expiration, manpower is adjusted back to 3-on-3 (providing no other penalty has been assessed.)
Case 3. Team A is assessed a penalty during the overtime period. Manpower is adjusted from 3-on-3 to give Team B a 4-on-3 power play. Prior to the expiration of Team A’s penalty, Team B is assessed a penalty which also creates a stoppage of play. Manpower is adjusted back to 3-on-3 as both teams now have a player in the penalty box. If there is no stoppage prior to the expiration of either team’s penalties, each team adds a player as their penalties expire, making the manpower 4-on-4. At the first stoppage of play after the penalties have expired, manpower is adjusted back to 3-on-3 (providing no other penalty has been assessed.)
c. Game Stoppages:
1. Penalties: The clock will be stopped when a penalty is whistled. The game clock will resume and the penalty clock will start at the next puck drop.
2. Injuries: A stoppage of play for injuries will occur as stated in Rule 206 (e). When a player is injured so that he/she cannot continue play or go to his/her bench, the play shall not be stopped until the injured player’s team has secured possession of the puck; if the player’s team is in possession of the puck at the time of injury, play shall be stopped immediately, unless his/her team is in a scoring position. Note: In the case where it is obvious that a player has sustained a serious injury, the Referee and/or Linesman may stop the play immediately. If the game is stopped due to an injury, the player is not allowed to stay on the ice for the next puck drop, but must go to the bench.
3. 2 minute stop clock rule: Any game where the score is tied or within one goal with two minutes or less left in REGULATION, the running clock will go to stop time for the remaining time. This does NOT apply to ANY overtime period. Once the clock goes to stop time, it will remain stop time until the end of regulation even if the goal differential is expanded to more the one goal.
4. Timeout/Captain’s Timeout: For each game, each team is given one regular 60 second timeout to discuss team strategy, as well as a 60 second “captain’s timeout”. The NMHockey League has established the captain’s timeout specifically to allow captains to better control the overall attitude of a game. If, in any game, the players’ behavior on either side is becoming unruly or dangerous, a captain may call a timeout to meet with the opposing captain and/or referees as needed to discuss how to better control the game. It is also a time for the captains to meet with their own players to calm them down. This is not a time to meet with your players to discuss strategy or criticize the referees; however, you may request of the referees that a game be called tighter. Captain’s wishing to exercise the captain’s timeout should call for time and let the referees know that it is a “captain’s timeout” and ask that the referees summon the opposing captain to confer. In the interest of player’s safety please use these timeouts as needed. However, rarely are these timeouts necessary, as most players understand this is all just for fun.
VIII. Standings and Tie Breaker Rule
In the regular season, 2 points are awarded for each win and 1 point for each overtime loss. In the event of a tie in points the following tie breaker rules will be applied:
- In case of tie for Points, team with the most Wins
- In case of tie for Wins, team with highest ROW (regulation + OT wins/non-shootout wins)
- In case of tie for Points, Wins, and ROW, the teams head-to-head record* will be used.
- In case teams are still tied, team with highest Goals For/Goals Against differential.
- In case teams are still tied, team with most Goals For.
- In case teams are still tied, team with least Goals Against.
- In case teams are still tied, a coin toss.
* Head-to-head record – The team’s regular season wins when they played each other.
IX. Playoff and Championship Details
a. 4-Team Playoffs and Championship
In a 4-team league, the teams will play a three week round robin to determine who will play for the championship. Teams will begin with bonus points based on regular season finish: 3 points for 1st place, 2 points for 2nd, 1 point for 3rd and 0 points for 4th. Each win in the tournament will earn the team four points. The two teams with the highest points at the end of the playoffs will play for the championship, and the remaining two teams will play in the consolation game. All games in the post-season will be played out to a victor; there will be no ties and no points given for an overtime loss. See Section V.b for details on overtime in playoffs, championship and consolation games.
b. 6-Team Playoffs and Championship
In a 6-team league, the teams will play a five week round robin to determine who will play for the championship. Teams will begin with bonus points based on regular season finish: 5 points for 1st place, 4 points for 2nd, 3 points for 3rd, 2 points for 4th, 1 point for 5th and 0 points for 6th. Each win in the tournament will earn the team six points. The two teams with the highest points at the end of the playoffs will play for the championship and the remaining four teams will play in the consolation games in the order of their playoff points; i.e., the team finishing third will play the team finishing fourth, etc. All games in the post-season will be played out to a victor; there will be no ties and no points given for an overtime loss. See Section V.b for details on overtime in playoffs, championship and consolation games.
c. 8-Team Playoffs and Championship
In an 8-team league, the playoffs shall be conducted as a single elimination championship bracket with consolation games over a 3-week period in the following manner:
- All seeds are based on regular season results.
- Home teams will be the highest seeded team.
- All games in the post-season will be played out to a victor; there will be no ties and no points given for an overtime loss.
- See Section V.b for details on overtime in playoffs, championship and consolation games.
Week 1 – Round 1:
From the regular season, the highest seed shall play the lowest seed, the next highest seed shall play the next lowest seed, etc.
- 1st vs. 8th
- 2nd vs. 7th
- 3rd vs. 6th
- 4th vs. 5th
Week 2 – Round 2:
Winners from Week 1 (each having a record of 1-0) shall proceed to play each other in the following format:
- Highest remaining seed vs. lowest remaining seed.
- Next highest remaining seed vs. next lowest remaining seed.
Losers from Week 1 (each having a record of 0-1) shall proceed to play each other in the following format:
- Highest remaining seed vs. lowest remaining seed.
- Next highest remaining seed vs. next lowest remaining seed.
Week 3 – Championship/Consolation Round:
Winners of games from both Week 1 & Week 2 (each having a record of 2-0) shall play for the Championship.
- Highest remaining seed vs. lowest remaining seed.
Losers of both Week 1 & Week 2 games will play for 7th place. (each having a record of 0-2)
The remaining four teams (each having a record of 1-1) shall play each other in the following manner:
- The two highest remaining seeds shall play for 3rd place
- The two lowest remaining seeds shall play for 5th place
X. League Statistics
League standings and statistics are located on the league website and will be updated at least once during the week. If errors are found in the statistics, players should notify their captain who shall notify the league commissioner for review.
XI. Mercy Rule
The NMHockey League does not exercise a “mercy rule”. We encourage all players, in recognition of good sportsmanship, to maintain a respectful goal differential in all games played.
XII. Home Ice
NMHockey plays all of its games at the same rink, so having the home ice does not lend itself to a home crowd advantage. However, there are two advantages the home team enjoys:
- (Rule 204) The home team is allowed the last line change at each stoppage of play as long as it does not result in the delay of the game.
- The home team is given the choice of which team shoots first in the shootout.
Home ice for the playoffs will be given to the team in the match up that had the better regular season. In the event that both teams have the same record, the tiebreaker rules will apply. Home ice for championship and consolation games will be given to the team in the match up that had the better playoff record. In the event that both teams have the same record, the tiebreaker rules will apply.
XIII. Game Postponements and Schedule changes
Any games postponed or needing to be rescheduled due to inclement weather, equipment failure or any other unforeseen factor shall be handled in the following manner:
a. All players affected will be contacted in a timely manner.
b. Announcement of postponement will be promptly posted to the league web site or sent via email.
c. Any postponed or rescheduled regular season games will be rescheduled prior to the start of the playoffs. Any postponed playoff game will be rescheduled prior to the championship game. Schedule changes will be made only to accommodate games that cannot be played due to the aforementioned circumstances and shall not be rescheduled to accommodate individual player scheduling conflicts.
Players that are forced to withdraw during the season due to injury or other extenuating circumstances may receive a prorated refund. Refunds will be based on the number of remaining games from when a replacement player is assigned to the team roster and a refund check will be issued within 30 days.
XV. Protests and Complaints
Recognizing that a vital objective of league play is development of play and sportsmanship, protests of a game’s result are not favored and normally denied except in instances of a gross violation of the rules, e.g. the use of an ineligible substitute.
Protests that are submitted shall be handled in the following manner:
1. Winning teams may not file a protest.
2. Protests must be submitted via e-mail by the team captain to the league commissioner within 48 hours on the completion of the game. The appropriate league committee will review the protest. Protests submitted by any other team member will not be considered. The reviewing committee will respond to the protest within 72 hours of receipt (unless more prompt response is needed).
3. ALL referees judgmental decisions are final and are not subject to protest, appeal or review.
4. A situation may occur which is not appropriate for protest, but with respect to which a team wishes to complain. In such a case, the same basic procedures as for a protest shall be followed. The result of a complaint will have no effect on a game’s result, but may serve to clarify league, club, team or individual membership actions and policy.
Complaints about player behavior should first be addressed to the team captain. The team captain may then work with the other player’s captain to address the behavior or escalate the complaint to the division vice commissioner. The vice commissioner will then investigate the issue and decide whether there is sufficient evidence to move the issue to the disciplinary committee or close the complaint.