One rule change I am particularly happy about is that teams cannot put an attackman or defenseman on the open wing during a man-down face off. Otherwise known as “filling” the wing, that attackman or defenseman was known to officials as the hot man because we needed to identify the player who was behind the midline on the whistle to start the face off.
I hated the old rule for two reasons. One, a team committed a foul forcing them to play six on five during a settled possession, but if the foul was non-releasable and a goal was scored then the next face off was three on three with the filled wing. Two, this situation took forever for most youth teams to figure out. Here is what I heard most times a man-down face off was pending in a youth game:
“#16, #16! Mark! Mark I want you on the wing line! I know you’re an attackman, but I need you to fill the wing. Yes, you can come out of the box. No, not that wing! Go to the far wing! Not on that side of the field, go to the other side of the field! Phew, okay ref thanks for letting me take care of that.”
In youth games I was a little flexible the first time or two this happened early in the season because it was a peculiar situation for youth teams to get down. Fortunately I don’t have to worry this year as this situation is completely gone for 2014 and here is the diagram to show how it’s going to go down:
The above image shows two teams properly set up for a man-down face off using 2014 rules. The red midfielder in the box is serving a non-releasable penalty and blue scored a goal. The officials set up the face off, but the red midfielder is still in the penalty box for the non-releasable penalty. No red attackman or defenseman is permitted to fill the open wing on the bench side of the field. The face off is conducted with three blue midfielders and two red midfielders.
Also notice the upper right corner of the diagram. The red attackman is outside of the box but below the restraining line. This is completely legal. The players are not locked into the box to start the face off. They are locked behind the restraining line until “possession” is called or the ball crosses the restraining line while loose (in that situation the officials will shout “play,” which releases all players).
Major Point On Releasing Penalties During A Man-Down Face Off:
When one or more players are in the penalty box during a man-down face off they are not released until possession is called or the ball crosses the restraining lines and the officials yell “play.” If the red player above has 3-seconds on his penalty and the face off battle lasts for 25 seconds before possession is gained then the red player in the box will spend an additional 22 seconds in the penalty box even though his time has expired.
This is a safety issue for the players trying to gain possession. If this rule didn’t exist then the red player could be released during the face off battle, run out of the box, and level an unexpected body check at a player who is trying to pick up the ball near the penalty box. Look at it this way – if you are not on the wing lines or taking the face you don’t get to participate in the face off until possession is declared or the ball crosses the restraining lines and the officials call “play.”
This rule change makes man-down face offs easier to officiate and easier to coach, but it does mean that live-ball personal fouls and non-releasable fouls carry into the face off. That gives those penalties more teeth as the team who is in the penalty box is always playing man-down no matter what the situation.