Hockey Leaving the Bench Penalty

Ice Hockey Leaving the Bench or Penalty Box

In hockey, players are penalized for leaving their bench or the penalty box when they are not permitted to. There are a few different scenarios when this incident can occur with varying penalties. This penalty mainly exists to stop players from clearing the benches or penalty box when an altercation breaks out on the ice.


Definition

This penalty states that players may not leave their bench or penalty box in order to start an altercation out on the ice or join an altercation that is already occurring. Players may not leave their bench for any reason besides getting onto the ice to join the game during a line change. As a result, players may not enter the ice between periods or during a stoppage of play to warm up. In addition, players may not leave their bench to prevent an opposing team’s player from scoring a goal. A player may not leave the penalty box for any reason until their penalty time is completed. Players that leave their bench legally during play and end up starting an altercation may be penalized under this rule as well.

In most cases, this penalty will be called by a referee out on the ice. However, there may be instances in which recordings of the game may be used to help determine which players illegally left a bench or penalty area. This penalty can be called at any time throughout the game. The severity of punishment for this penalty will depend on the order in which a group of players illegally leave the bench or penalty box area. For example, the first player who leaves the bench illegally may receive a longer suspension and penalty fine than the second player that leaves the bench illegally. 

Result

The result of this penalty will depend upon the situation in which a player decided to leave the bench illegally. In the NHL, any player who leaves the bench or penalty box illegally will receive a bench minor penalty, while the first and second players who left the bench or penalty box will receive an additional game misconduct penalty. A bench minor penalty is two minutes in the penalty box, and a game misconduct penalty requires the affected players to be off the ice for ten minutes. 

In USA Hockey, players receive a major penalty and a game misconduct penalty for such infractions. Major penalties are five minutes long in the penalty box. In NCAA hockey, players are disqualified when leaving the bench during an altercation. Players are given a bench minor penalty when they leave the penalty box during an altercation. 

Referee Signal

Ice Hockey Leaving the Bench or Penalty Box Penalty Signal

When this penalty occurs, a referee motions the game misconduct penalty signal. This motion indicates that penalized players have received a game misconduct penalty, which requires them to leave the ice for ten minutes. This signal is characterized by the referee putting their hands against their hips, with their shoulders positioned forward and their arms bent at the elbows.  

Examples

  • A group of players leave their bench when an altercation starts on the ice or leave the bench in order to start an altercation.
  • A player leaves the penalty box before their penalty time is up to start an altercation on the ice or join one that is already occurring.  
  • A player leaves their bench to prevent an opposing player from scoring a goal.
  • A coach decides to leave the bench to argue a decision made by a referee.

Similar Penalties to Leaving the Bench

FAQ

What is a leaving the bench penalty in hockey?

Hockey players are penalized when they leave the bench for an altercation that has occurred on the ice. In addition, they are penalized for leaving the bench or penalty box in order to prevent an opponent from scoring. Players can also be penalized for leaving the bench in between periods to warm up. In general, players can only leave the bench or penalty box in order to take part in the game itself. For a player to leave the penalty box, they must first serve the entirety of their penalty time.  

What are the consequences of leaving the bench in hockey?

When committing a leaving the bench penalty in hockey, a player may receive a major, minor, or game misconduct penalty. In almost all situations, players will receive a combination of these penalties. In the NHL, players will receive bench minor penalties, which equates to two minutes in the penalty box. In addition, the first two players to leave the bench will receive a game misconduct penalty, which equates to ten minutes off the ice.

When is a player allowed to leave the penalty box in hockey?

A player is allowed to leave the penalty box after their penalty time is up. During a minor penalty, the player has to stay in the penalty box for two minutes. If a goal is scored by the opposing team while a player is serving a minor penalty, they may leave before their penalty time has expired. During a major penalty, the player has to stay in the penalty box for five minutes. In addition, a player may leave the penalty box at the conclusion of a period, but their remaining penalty time must be served when the next period starts.