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Novice C Half-Ice Info

As a new official or an official who will return this season Hockey Canada is excited to introduce you to Novice Half Ice Game Play.


Hockey Canada recommends the inclusion of officials at the Novice level. At this level a one official system will be employed.


The system provides officials with an opportunity to experience several aspects of officiating, while keeping the operating costs at a manageable level for the teams and minor hockey associations.

There are numerous benefits:


This is a valuable opportunity for newer officials to put on their uniform, get on the ice in live action, and learn basic aspects of being an official in a less formal and positive atmosphere.


It provides an excellent opportunity for senior officials to mentor newcomers by shadowing them on the ice or evaluating them from the stands. The ability to mentor officials at ice level in this structure provides instantaneous feedback and assists in preparing these officials for full-ice games in a two- or three-official system.


Having an official for the half-ice games provides players with more structure than cross-ice games at the Initiation level. It also presents a more realistic game environment, while allowing the coaches to keep their focus on the players.

Role of the Official


During a Novice Cross-Ice game the official will:


  • Communicate with the coaches

  • Communicate with the players

  • Skate ‘in traffic’ with players

  • Watch and follow the play

  • Stop play when the puck is frozen or shot out of play

  • Call penalties

  • Signal goals

  • Perform functional and foundational positioning

  • Drop Pucks

The Two-Team Game Play Model


  1. In some minor hockey communities, team composition may be smaller. If this is the case, the ice is still divided in two halves, but only one half will be used for game play. The other half of the ice can be used as a practice surface (see Rink Image below).

  2. In the two teams, two half-ice games model, each team will consist of up to 18 players (16 skaters and two goaltenders) divided into two units of nine players.Each team unit of nine players will have one goaltender and eight skaters.

  3. Smaller numbers will allow for players to double shift to ensure there are always four players on the ice. Coaches must make sure all players take turns double shifting.

  4. While not a requirement, the ideal length of a game is 50 minutes (2 x 25-minute halves) plus a three-minute warm-up.

  5. It is recommended that in each half, the centre spot should be marked to indicate where the face-off will take place. This is to be established at the midpoint between both nets.

  6. There is no centre-ice (red) line, and therefore no icing.

  7. There are no blue-lines in play, therefore there are no offsides.

  8. The home team shall defend the two ends of the rink, while the visiting team shall defend the centre-ice nets.

  9. When the buzzer sounds to end the first half, the visiting team will switch ends and switch benches, so players can play against the other half of the opposing team.

  10. Teams will share the respective player benches with each team using the gate closest to the net they are defending.

  11. The main score clock can be used to keep time for both games simultaneously.

  12. No score is kept, and no game sheets are necessary.

The Rules


The rules for half-ice novice game play have been created to maximize player engagement by increasing opportunities to interact with the puck and other players. A simplified version of the game allows younger players to focus on elements of the game they enjoy most.



There will be one face-off location. This will be located approximately halfway between the goals Coaches and arena staff may mark the centre face-off location with a temporary marking for game play purposes.

Playing Rules


  1. 4 vs. 4 format – plus each team with a goaltender.

  2. Each team is required to have two goaltenders, one for each half of the ice.

  3. Rink set-up:

    • One set of barriers or two sets of barriers with a space in between for spare players

  4. Three-minute warm-up - Game length – 50 minutes

    • Two 25-minute halves


  5. Shift Length - one minute in duration with an automatic buzzer or whistle sounding to indicate players change.  The clock continues to run throughout the 25-minutes.

  6. Officials work together to keep the games synchronized.

  7. Players change on the fly.

    • If there are fewer than four players on the bench, the active player designated to stay out for the following shift must tag up at the bench prior to continuing play.

  8. There will be two face-offs during the game:

    • The first face-off will start the game.

    • The second face-off will start the second half.

Player Shift/ Change Procedure


Player shifts are recommended to be one minute in length. A buzzer or whistle will sound to signal line changes.


On the buzzer/whistle sounds, players must relinquish control of the puck immediately and vacate the ice. The new players enter the ice immediately.


Failure to immediately relinquish control of the puck or new players entering the ice surface prematurely may result in a penalty (see below) for the offending team.



Minor penalties are noted with the official briefly raising their arm to indicate a penalty will be assessed.


If the offending team controls the puck after the infraction, the official blows the whistle and calls for a change of possession; the non-offending team is given room to play the puck (three-meter cushion).


At the conclusion of the shift, the official notifies the coach of the infraction and the number of the offending player.


The offending player will sit out the next shift, but the team will play even strength.


Should an infraction occur that would normally require a player to be ejected from the game (game misconduct, match penalty or gross misconduct), the player will be removed from the remainder of that game. Even under these circumstances, teams will not play shorthanded and no game incident report will be required.




Foundational positioning principles will be used. Under the half-ice structure, approximate positioning should be used to get officials comfortable with their proximity to the goal. (The concept of the "cone™ should be reserved for when full-ice play begins.)

Officials are encouraged to move towards the net on goal situations and away from the play towards the boards as play comes towards them, allowing players to pass by; the official can then follow up the ice at a safe distance.

Game situations


  1. Goaltender freezes the puck...
    - the official blows the whistle to indicate the attacking team backs off and defending team gets possession.

  2. Player falls on or freezes the puck... 
    - the official blows the whistle to indicate the attacking team backs off and defending team gets possession.

  3. Puck shot out of play...
    - the offending team backs off and the official gives the non-offending team a new puck.
    **Officials will be encouraged to carry an extra puck in their pocket**

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