Week 1 – Goalkeeper’s Restricted Area

NHL Rules

Rule / Situation of the week

Be the Referee!!!

Welcome to our FIRST Rule Situation(s) of Week!

Every Mondays for the next 25 weeks (during the regular season schedule) we will explain in this column some bizarre or uncommon game’s situation/rule. Hockey is a particular game when it comes to the rulebook. Hockey officials need to know their rules but more important they have to know the interpretation and application of them! We will see in the next several months, in this series of articles, that a rule has sometimes two different applications depending on the situation that occurred on the ice. This is not theofficialsdeciding on the outcome of the gameshere, by deciding to apply or not the rule, but is rather the interpretation and the application of that rule along with itsintent that dictatesthe final decision made by the officials on the ice!

For the following 25 weeks, we will try to take an uncommon play that occurred during a game in the week prior to each articleanshedsome lights by explaining the reasons behind the final decision(s) made by the officials on that play. This is not a column to promote or defend our officials but rather an educational tool for all hockey fans and hockey officials to acquire a better understanding of the game of hockey!

For thisfirst week situation, we will use one of the rule that was partly modified for the upcoming season; “the restricted area for the goaltender, Rule 1.8 & 27.8”.

So let’s start to see if you know your NHL rules! Wewill help you better understand some decisions made by NHL officials some nights and hopefully making you better “couch” referee!


NHL – Rule 1 RINK

Rule 1.8 Goalkeeper’s Restricted Area– A restricted trapezoid-shaped area behind the goal will be laid out as follows: Seven feet (7′) outside of each goal crease (eight feet (8′) from each goal post), a two-inch (2″) red line shall be painted extending from the goal line to a point on the end of the rink ten feet (10′) from the goal crease (eleven feet (11′) from the goal post) and continuing vertically up the kick plate (see diagram on the page iv preceding the table of contents). (Paint code PMS 186).

* This year, the National Hockey League has modified the goalkeeper’s restricted area by extending the playing area from 6 feet outside each goal post to 8 feet. By making the allowed playing area to the goalkeeper’s behind the goal, they wish to create more scoring chances. In allowing goalies more freedom to play the puck the NHL also is increasing the possibility for turnovers and scoring chances by the forechecking team. See the diagrams below.


NHL – Rule 27 Goalkeeper’s Penalties

Rule 27.8 Goalkeeper’s Restricted Area– A goalkeeper shall not play the puck outside of the designated area behind the net. This area shall be defined by lines that begin six feet (6’) from either goal post and extend diagonally to points twenty-eight feet (28’) apart at the end boards. Should the goalkeeper play the puck outside of the designated area behind the goal line, a minor penalty for delay of game shall be imposed. The determining factor shall be the position of the puck. The minor penalty will not be assessed when a goalkeeper plays the puck while maintaining skate contact with his goal crease.





The goalkeeper leaves the crease area to play the puck. Both of his skates are inside the restricted area. He stops the puck on his stick on the goal line. Is the goal line considered to be in the restricted area and worthy of a minor penalty?


The goal line is not considered to be in the restricted area and therefore no penalty is assessed as per Rule 27.8 which states, “Should the goalkeeper play the puck outside of the designated area behind the goal line, a minor penalty for delay of game shall be imposed.” Therefore the puck must be over the goal line to be considered restricted area.



The goalkeeper leaves his crease in an attempt to play the puck before it enters the restricted area in the corner. He realizes he cannot play it in time and begins to retreat towards his crease, skating through the restricted area. An opposing player gets to the loose puck in the corner before the goalkeeper leaves the restricted area and attempts to pass the puck to the front of the net. The goalkeeper drops to his knees and blocks the pass with his leg’s pad which is clearly inside the restricted area. Is this a penalty to the goalkeeper under Rule 27.8?


Since the goalkeeper “plays” the puck in the restricted area, he must be assessed a minor penalty for delay of game.



Team A shoots the puck into Team B’s zone. Team B’s goalkeeper is out of his crease to play the puck. The goalkeeper, realizing he is in the restricted area, turns to go back to his crease. The puck comes off the glass and hits the goalkeeper inadvertently. Is this a penalty?


No penalty. Rule states that the goalkeeper must “play” the puck to be penalized.



After a save, the puck enters the restricted area behind the goal line near the net. Then, the goaltender who just made the save and who has one skate in the goal crease and one outside of it, drops down on his stomach poking the puck away from an opponent who was going to shoot it towards the net. What action, if any, should the Referee take?


This is a good hockey play, let the play go on! No penalty. “The goaltender has a skate in contact with his goal crease”.



A delayed minor penalty is signaled against Team A. The Team A goalkeeper leaves his crease and plays the puck in the corner within the restricted area in order to get the stoppage of play. Is the goalkeeper also assessed a minor penalty for playing the puck in the restricted area?


Yes, the goalkeeper shall be assessed a minor penalty for delay of game for playing the puck illegally in the restricted area, in addition to the originally signaled penalty to Team A. Rule 27.8 (see also Rule 63.2, paragraph 10).


See you next Monday!