Rule 6-7-2 states, "No player shall push, charge, cross-check or body-check an opponent from behind into the boards or goal frame," and a violation would result in a major and misconduct penalty or - if flagrant - game disqualification.
The checking-from-behind change was one of four major rules revisions approved by the committee at its April 22-23 meeting in Indianapolis. The changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
"Checking from behind is the most dangerous act in the sport," said Dan Schuster, NFHS assistant director of coach education and staff liaison to the Ice Hockey Rules Committee. "With all of its rules changes, the goal of the committee is to minimize the risk of injury."
In another risk-minimization change, Rule 6-41-3 now states, "No player shall deliver a check to an unsuspecting and vulnerable player." This addition was implemented to eliminate blind-side hits from the sport as well as to stress legal body-checking.
"This helps protect the defenseless player," Schuster said. "The committee is striving to take these dangerous and unnecessary hits out of the game."
The final rules change dealing with risk minimization is Rule 3-3-5. The rule now includes a goalkeeper's glove as being a piece of equipment that, if it becomes displaced, requires play to be immediately stopped.
In the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play, the committee elected to institute Rule 6-42-1 and 2, which prohibits the embellishment of acts in an attempt to draw a penalty through any exaggerated or deceitful actions or to attempt to worsen an already called penalty. The infraction for both is a minor penalty call.
"Some kids are putting themselves in position where it looks like they get checked from behind, when in fact, they are merely attempting to draw a major penalty," Schuster said. "The committee wants to eliminate these acts from the game."
According to the NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, ice hockey is the 15th-most popular boys sport at the high school level with 35,732 participants in 1,612 schools. An additional 8,833 girls participated in the sport at 600 schools.
About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.6 million in high school sports.
As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS Web site at www.nfhs.org.