Hockey Illegal Substitution

Ice Hockey Illegal Substitution

Illegal substitution is a set of violations that may occur in hockey when a player enters the ice as part of a substitution. An illegal substitution will happen if a player who is currently ineligible to play enters the ice or if an eligible player enters the ice at a time when substitutions are not allowed.


Definition

Illegal substitution in hockey is a term applied to a number of violations that occur when a player enters the game when they are not permitted to do so. The most common type of illegal substitution is a too many men on the ice penalty. Too many men on the ice occurs during a substitution when a player enters the ice before the player leaving the game has reached the substitution area or if either player making a substitution makes contact with the puck or an opposing player intentionally before the substitution is complete.

Another type of illegal substitution is premature substitution, a violation that happens when a goalkeeper is leaving the ice during a substitution and the entering skater touches the ice before the goalkeeper reaches the substitution area. An illegal substitution also occurs when a player who is serving a time penalty re-enters the game before the penalty has expired. If a player leaves the game due to injury while serving a time penalty, a substitute player will serve the remainder of the penalty. In this situation, the injured skater may not re-enter the game before the substitute has finished serving the time penalty, or they will incur an illegal substitution violation.

Additionally, a player who has not directly committed a foul may be compelled to serve a time penalty. This happens when a player commits a major foul and a misconduct foul simultaneously, and a second player from the bench is selected to serve the second penalty. This also happens when a bench minor penalty is levied against a team, and the team must select a player from the bench to serve a time penalty. Any failure to comply with these time penalties is also considered an illegal substitution, and further penalties may result from this failure.

Result

The result of illegal substitutions is largely the same between professional and amateur leagues. Illegal substitution usually warrants a minor penalty to the offending team. However, USA Hockey referees uniquely have the option of assessing a penalty shot or an additional minor penalty to a team that deliberately commits an illegal substitution in the last two minutes of regulation or during overtime. NHL referees have two unique illegal substitution penalties available to them. If an illegal substitution is deliberately made to stop an unobstructed shot at the goal, they may assess a penalty shot. Or, if a similarly deliberate illegal substitution is made to stop an unobstructed shot on an unprotected goal (empty net), they may award a goal.

Referee Signal

Ice Hockey Illegal Substitution Penalty Signal

There is no signal specific to illegal substitutions. However, if an illegal substitution is committed on offense, a referee will immediately stop play with a whistle and form the shape of a letter T with their hands. If an illegal substitution occurs while the team opposing the offending team possesses the puck, a referee will signal a delayed penalty by raising their non-whistle hand directly above their head, pointing upward. Once the offending team touches the puck, the referee will blow his whistle and assess the penalty.

Examples

  • During a substitution, one of the two substituting players intentionally makes contact with the puck or an opponent before the substitution is complete. This is a too many men on the ice penalty, and an illegal substitution has occurred.
  • A goalkeeper is leaving the ice in the process of making a substitution. The incoming skater places their skates on the ice before the departing goalkeeper has reached the substitution area. This is a premature substitution violation, and play will be stopped with no penalty assessed.
  • A player is serving a time penalty on the penalty bench. Before the time penalty expires, that player enters the ice. An illegal substitution has occurred.

Similar Penalties to Fouled From Illegal Substitution

FAQ

What is an illegal substitution in hockey?

An illegal substitution in hockey is a type of violation that occurs during substitutions or other times when a player is entering the game. An illegal substitution can happen when a player enters the ice before a departing player has reached the substitution area. If a player making a substitution deliberately contacts the puck or an opponent before the substitution is complete, this is also an illegal substitution. Additionally, an illegal substitution occurs when a player enters the ice before an assessed time penalty has expired or in excess of the allowed number of players on the ice.

What is the consequence of an illegal substitution in hockey?

The consequence of an illegal substitution varies depending on the type of violation. A premature substitution foul is the least serious illegal substitution, as it merely results in a stoppage of play followed by a face-off. Too many men on the ice and other violations resulting in a bench minor penalty are more serious, as they result in having one fewer skater on the ice than the opposing team (known as a power play) for the duration of the time penalty.

Is illegal substitution a bench minor penalty in hockey?

Some illegal substitutions, like a too many men on the ice penalty, result in a bench minor penalty being assessed. When assessed a bench minor penalty, a team must select a player to serve a two-minute time penalty. Other illegal substitutions have different penalties. A premature substitution violation results in a stoppage in play. A player committing an illegal substitution by leaving the penalty bench early will be forced to return to the penalty bench and serve the remainder of their penalty, plus an additional minor penalty.