Rule clarification: Delay of Game/Goaltender

As with other European leagues, the EIHL is seeking to make clarification regarding rules 214, 220 and 221 – Goaltenders playing the puck. The spirit of the rule is to eliminate the goaltenders ability to secure a stoppage at their will, when in some cases a stoppage is not warranted or serving the best interests of the game/game flow. The key difference is taking the past years IIHF Rule (which all participants were accustomed to) and blending it with the new 2018-2022 IIHF Rule interpretation.

New is the yellow zone (indicated above), which has been significantly reduced from the past IIHF rule and added new as an interpretative definition for the new IIHF Rule interpretation. The underlying rational is as follows: in the event a goalie can safely play the puck, they are highly encouraged to do so. The rule is not limited to having the goaltender play the puck with his stick, but the delay of game rule is not enforced if the goaltender has the puck in any other body part, other than his stick and is within the yellow zone.

The rules currently exist as follows:


  1. A goaltender who holds or plays the puck with his stick, skates, or body along the boards in such a manner as to cause a stoppage of play will be assessed a minor penalty, even if he is being checked or pressured.


DEFINITION: A goaltender is allowed to freeze the puck in his goal crease so long as he is being pressured by an opponent. If he is not being pressured and has adequate time to make a play safely to a teammate, he is obliged to do so (see key point below).

  1. Unless he is being pressured by an opponent, a goaltender who holds the puck more for than three seconds will be assessed a minor penalty.
  2. A goaltender who is not under pressure and deliberately drops the puck into his pads, body, or equipment in order to gain a stoppage in play will be assessed a minor penalty.

DEFINITION: A goaltender is not allowed to fall on the puck to cause a stoppage in play in certain situations if his body is outside the goal crease. The yellow highlighted area (below above), for the purpose of freezing the puck, is considered an extension of the crease as per rule 220.

Key points in defining
 ‘pressure’ (only applies for yellow zone)

  • Is the puck on the ice or can it be put on the ice for the goaltender to safely play the puck to a teammate?
  • Is there an opponent in or in the near vicinity of the yellow zone by immediate or pressure within a 3 second time frame?
  • A goaltender within the ‘yellow marked‘ zone has the option (not forced) to play the puck if opponent pressure of any sort is in the vicinity
  • Goaltenders must play the puck (cannot secure a stoppage), if the puck is located in the white zone when the goaltender makes a play on the puck, regardless of pressure

For the sake of clarity, within the yellow highlighted area:

  1. A goaltender is permitted to cover the puck. The key determining point is if the goaltender had an ability to play the puck, without sustained pressure in a time frame greater than 3 seconds.
  2. The area is not defined by on ice markings. It is an area that on the sides of the crease, is approximately a body length from the outside of the crease. On the top of the crease, the hash marks are the determining factor. The Referee’s will have a latitude of judgement.
  3. The determination for inside/outside the yellow area is the playing of the puck. A goaltender is not permitted to play, hold or gather the puck in the white zone and then skate into the yellow zone for the purpose of securing a stoppage in play.

In the white area:

  1. A goaltender who immediately covers or plays and then falls on, or gathers the puck, to secure a stoppage anywhere in the white area, and when the puck is behind the goal line and in the white area or beyond the hash marks, falls on or gathers the puck into his body, or the boards, will be assessed a minor penalty whether or not he is being pressured by an opponent.