USL Penalties


Penalty Changes and Rules Amendment from the January 9, 2014 USL committee draft meeting

Minor Penalties
Rule Change #1
All minor penalties will be served as two-minute penalties during the game, however they will be treated like coincidental penalties. In other words, you will serve two minutes and have to wait for a stoppage in play (the next whistle) to return to the ice. This is being done to not penalize your team member who would normally have to sit while you are in the penalty box. This means that during any minor penalty - whether a single penalty or two players getting coincidental penalties - the teams will play 5 on 5, and those of us who are well behaved at that moment are not missing ice time.
Players getting a double minor will have to sit four minutes and wait for a stoppage in play to return to the ice.
Rule Change #2
Minor Penalties will be classified in to categories: Low Severity and High Severity.
Low Severity Minor Penalties will include:
(In other words, "sometimes" these penalties happen unintentionally)
- Interference
- Hooking
- Tripping
- Holding
High Severity Minor Penalties will include, but are not limited to the following:
(In other words, there is "intent" when these penalties happen)
- Cross Check
- Roughing
- Boarding
- Body contact or check
- Charging
- Unsportsmanlike conduct
- Slashing
During the games ALL minor penalties will be served in the penalty box for two minutes and then the player may return to play AFTER the next whistle (see rule #1 above).
High Severity Minor Penalties will be treated like a three-minute penalty when it comes to a player accumulating penalty minutes toward a possible game suspension. In other words, four high severity minor penalties will get you a game suspension, since they will total and be equal to 12 minutes in the stats.
Low Severity Minor Penalties will be treated like a two-minute penalty when it comes to a player accumulating penalty minutes toward a possible game suspension. In other words, low severity minor penalties - as before these rule changes - will get you a game suspension, since they will total and be equal 12 minutes in the stats.
Twelve penalty minutes in one 16-game season still gets you a one-game suspension, and the minutes or point values of all major penalties and game misconduct penalties remain the same as before these rule changes.
Any player who receives two minor penalties in one game will be given a warning. A third minor penalty will result in a two minute penalty plus a six minute misconduct. At this point, two players must go to the penalty box; the player who received the penalty and one more player who was on the ice at the same time. The penalized team will play at full strength after the first two minutes of the third penalty is served, providing there are no additional penalties. Any major penalty or a fourth minor penalty is an automatic ejection from the game; these penalty minutes though not served in the box, count toward the offending player’s cumulative total penalty minutes. If the offending player gets ejected, another player from the same team who was on the ice, must serve the minor penalty for the offending player; these penalty minutes do not count for the non-offending player. Team leaders and referees will confer after the game is over as to whether or not a player’s actions were too aggressive for USL play. In addition, depending on the infraction, a player could receive a one game suspension, and possibly be expelled from further participation in the league.

"In lieu of the new 5-on-5 policy, Bench Minor Penalties and Goalie Minor Penalties will result in a whistle to make the call, a stop in play, recording of the penalty for the individual or team, and then a face off in the offending team's/goalie's end." 


Any player who accumulates 12 minutes in penalties will receive a one game suspension. If suspension is not served for the offending player’s next game, any additional penalties will be accumulated toward total penalty minutes. Any player who receives a cumulative total of 20 penalty minutes, he/she shall be suspended from play in that season and possibly the next. Any player matching or exceeding the 12- and 20-minute limits shall serve the appropriate (one-game or permanent) at the beginning of the next season, i.e. in some extreme cases, penalties carry over into the next season.
Point of emphasis:  If you receive a suspension you can not play in your next team's game, nor play as a substitute for any other team until the suspension is fulfilled.

Minor Penalties

A minor penalty will result in three minutes served in the penalty box. Double minor penalties will be six minutes. Major penalties, while resulting in automatic game ejection, will count as at least six minutes toward your season tally. A Match Penalty is an automatic ejection from the game, and subsequent games until a league committee meeting can be held to determine a course of action. Match penalties would include: fighting or any blatant or hostile act toward another player with visual intent to harm. A misconduct penalty is an automatic ejection from the game, and will count as at least 10 minutes toward your season tally. Game misconducts will also carry a one game suspension.

A minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct shall be assessed to any player who: 
  • Openly disputes or argues about any decision made by an official. 
  • Uses obscene or vulgar language, including swearing, in a boisterous manner whether or not directed at any one individual. 
  • Visually demonstrates any sign of dissatisfaction with an official’s decision.

If such player persists in any of these behaviors they shall be assessed a misconduct penalty. Further misbehavior will result in a game misconduct and one game suspension.


Fighting is, of course, prohibited. Players who engage in fighting will be immediately ejected from the game and suspended from further participation in league games. The USL committee members, team leaders and referees will be part of this decision process. Ultimately, players will be notified by Dave Hornack of their suspensions.

Players who do not separate when ordered by the officials will receive unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalties in addition to whatever penalties have already been incurred. Continued misbehavior will result in a misconduct penalty followed by a game misconduct (ejection from the game) if the behavior persists.

Players who do not obey the instructions of an official will receive a misconduct penalty. Further refusal on the player’s part to comply with the official’s instructions will result in a game misconduct.

Courses of Action

Penalized players will report directly to the penalty box. Failure to do so will result in additional penalties including a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, followed by misconduct and finally a game misconduct.

Unsportsmanlike conduct within the facility, on or off the ice, will not be tolerated and will result in suspension from participation in further league games. Suspensions will range from one game to the remainder of the session, or permanent exclusion, depending upon the severity of the incident.

Touching or threatening an official is prohibited. Violations will result in suspension from participating in league play up to permanent expulsion.

Verbal abuse of the officials will result in a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Persistence in such behavior will result in a misconduct penalty followed by a game misconduct if the abuse continues. A player may not leave his feet, or dive to stop the opposition’s play, whether playing the puck or touching the puck or not; this type of aggression or interference shall be deemed a penalty. If you dive at and take out someone’s skates, whether you play the puck first or not, it is a penalty. So, do not intentionally leave your feet.


A goalie may not trip players while attempting to play or stop the puck (some rare exceptions for in-the-crease incidents). Goalies may not touch other players or intentionally dive at their skates on a break away. Skaters may not crash into the goalie. Contact with a goalie is prohibited.

Other Actions

Slew-footing and kneeing will be major penalties. If you accidentally trip and knock someone down, it is a penalty. If a player gets around you and a break away or near break away situation develops, let them take the shot, otherwise a major tripping penalty will be called.

Any slashing motion toward another player may be deemed a penalty, even if there is no contact. Chopping or coming down on any part of another player’s stick is a penalty. When sweeping your stick to knock the puck away from a player in control of the puck, the sweeping motion must be done with the stick blade on the ice at all times – a swing starting from mid air is prohibited.
  • Lifting a stick to avert puck possession is permitted.

Poking at the ribs, sides, elbows, or hands of another player ahead of you (with or without the puck) is a penalty. Any contact with the stick to the body of another player is a penalty.

Defenseman (and forwards) may not use their stick to move another player.

Permissible Activities

An example of what might be occasionally permissible contact would be when in front of the net, while both opposing players are standing still with their stick blades on the ice, standing against each other, and leaning on each other to attempt to slowly move or reposition the other player (A slow steady push; not a shove or sharp bump). Additionally, if an opposing player is racing toward the net with the puck, the defending player may place himself in the path of the rusher, but by no means may the defending player raise his stick, check, collide with momentum, or make contact with the rushing player.

Shooting the puck out of the rink from within the defensive zone is a delay of game penalty.

If two players are racing for control of a loose puck, both players should slow down to avoid collision and use sticks not bodies to get the puck. Your apparent visual intention to yield determines a penalty or not. If a collision occurs, the referee will determine who, if anyone, gets a penalty.


The League safety motto is: “I will go out of my way to get out of your way." That is, if someone really wants the puck badly, let them have it. Remember – safety and exercise first, then try to win at the expense of nobody but your own.