Chapter 4 - Penalties & Infractions
Section 1 - Game Infractions
Infractions are events that break certain game rules but do not result in a penalty. An infraction will always lead to a stoppage of the game and may affect the placement of the next faceoff. In some cases, multiple infractions over the course of a game may result in a penalty; these cases are detailed later in the chapter.
4.1 - Two-Line Pass
The two-line pass in GOHA is a hybrid of the offsides and icing rules in ice hockey. A two-line pass occurs when a player attempts to play the puck across both blue lines in either direction; if the next player to touch the puck is a teammate (excluding the goaltender), play will automatically be stopped and the faceoff will be brought back to that team's zone.
Referees may manually stop the game and call two-line passes in cases where the game scripts have failed. Two-line passes that are called manually are based on the referee's best judgment and may not be argued.
4.2 - Puck Infractions
Puck infractions come in four (4) varieties, detailed as follows:
a) Dead puck infractions -- Refers, in a general sense, to cases where the puck is visible but has been rendered unplayable. Unplayable pucks result when the puck becomes stuck against the boards, rink doors, on top of a net, or any other location on the ice and cannot be reached. Pucks may also be rendered unplayable due to script errors in which neither team can win a faceoff, or where players are unable to gain possession of a loose puck.
Dead pucks are manually whistled down by the referee, with the faceoff moved to center ice.
b) Idle puck infractions -- Refers to cases in which a puck is in play but is loose and not in motion, with neither team gaining possession for a total of eight (8) seconds. Idle pucks are given an automatic killswitch that will pause the game after this time expires, but may also be manually whistled dead by the referee.
Faceoffs after an idle puck infraction are dropped at center ice.
c) Multiple puck infractions -- Refers to cases where more than one puck is viewed to be in play. In rare cases, a script error may cause the puck to multiply whenever it is released from a player's stick, leading to multiple pucks on the ice. Additionally, issues with latency on behalf of the sim or an individual player's connection may cause multiple afterimages of the puck to come into view.
In any case where the referee views more than one puck on the ice, they may pause the game at their discretion. Faceoffs will be dropped at center ice.
d) Goalie recapture infractions — Refers to cases in which a goalie gains possession of the puck, and attempts to make a pass, but immediately regains possession within an instant of releasing the puck. This sort of action usually occurs as a result of an inherent issue with the game’s physics engine, in which a goalie will boost while making the pass to gain extra distance, but will be moving faster than the puck and will quickly gain possession (“recapture”) the puck once more before it can travel down the ice.
An infraction is called only in situations where a goalie recaptures the puck three (3) consecutive times without releasing the puck. Gameplay will be stopped manually by the referee, with the faceoff held in one of the faceoff circles closest to the goaltender; no penalties are called, and the referee should add sufficient time back to the clock to compensate for any time lost as a result of the play.
Recapture infractions are not called if the goalie rebounds the puck during an attempted pass. If the goalie automatically freezes the puck after recapturing for the third time, the referee should still add any lost time to the clock.
4.3 - Puck Out of Play
The legal playing surface includes the rink, boards, and the three-dimensional space contained within. The puck is thus considered to be "out of play" if it comes into contact with the scoreboard, ceiling, or is sent out of the rink by going through or over the boards and rink doors.
The game will either be stopped automatically by detectors around the rinks, or will be paused by the referee if the puck is viewed to be shot out of the rink or played off of the scoreboard. Referees may also decide to add any time to the clock that is lost due to the puck being sent out of play.
If the puck is sent over the boards or is played off of the scoreboard, faceoffs will be dropped relative to where the puck was before it left the playing surface. If a team shoots the puck directly over the boards three (3) or more times over the course of a game, they will incur a delay of game penalty (see Rule 4.7 for details).
Cases in which the puck is sent directly through the doors or boards are considered accidental and will not count toward any penalties; faceoffs will be dropped at center ice.
4.4 - Faceoff Infractions
Faceoff infractions include the following:
a) Repeated instances of illegal positioning (sticks/skates inside the faceoff circle or on the faceoff dot; players lined up on their opponent's half of the faceoff circle)
b) More than one player per team entering the faceoff circle or attempting to take a faceoff
c) Jostling an opposing player inside the faceoff circle as the puck is being dropped
d) Player taking the faceoff attempts to check an opposing player before the puck leaves the circle
e) Jumping the faceoff -- Encroachment of the faceoff circle before the puck is put into play. A puck is considered to be "in play" when the particles around the puck turn from red to green after a faceoff is won.
In the event of a faceoff infraction, the referee may either warn or wave off any offending players from the faceoff circle if the puck has not been dropped. If an infraction occurs during or immediately after a faceoff, the referee will stop the play and the faceoff will be retaken.
A team that commits three (3) or more faceoff infractions over the course of a game will incur a delay of game penalty (see Rule 4.7 for details).
4.5 - Disallowed Goals
Goals are rendered invalid under the following circumstances:
a) Shot was taken from outside of the attacking zone (i.e., from any part of the ice behind the blue line).
b) Goal was produced as a result of the puck going through the sides or back of the net, or by triggering the goal detector from any other unrealistic angle.
c) Goal was scored as a result, either directly or indirectly, of a player skating over the net, above the boards or flying through the air.
Collision errors will sometimes cause a player to leap or fly through the air when boosting, or to skate over the nets and boards. In most cases, these events do not significantly affect gameplay and are not penalized.
d) Goal was scored as a result of goaltender interference.
Faceoffs are taken at center ice following an invalid goal. Exceptions apply to goaltender interference penalties, where the faceoff will be held in the penalized team's zone.
The validity of every goal is based on the referee's judgment; goals that are rendered invalid may not be argued.
Section 2 - Minor Penalties
A player who incurs a minor penalty must leave the ice and wait by the rink doors for one (1) minute of game time. A penalized player may return to the ice after the penalty time expires, or in the event that the opposing team scores during the penalty, at which point the penalty will be removed from the boards.
Goaltenders who commit a minor penalty do not need to leave the ice; the team's captain must instead choose a player who was on the ice to serve the penalty. Captains must also select a player on the ice to serve any penalty that is given to a player on the bench.
Minor penalties are administered when a player commits any of the actions detailed below:
4.6 - Crease Violations
A crease violation occurs when a player enters or stands inside the crease (the blue half-circle in front of the net) while having possession of the puck; the penalty is incurred if any parts of a player's feet are inside the crease. Crease violations are signaled automatically by the game scripts and will result in a pause in gameplay.
On occasion, the scripts that run the crease detectors will not always function as they should; in such cases, crease violations will be left up to the referees' best judgment. If a player is found to be inside the crease while possessing the puck, and the play is not automatically stopped by the scripts, the referee may use their own discretion and call a penalty manually.
Crease violations will be upheld regardless of whether or not a player was pushed into the crease before, during or after the player gains possession of the puck.
Faceoffs after a crease violation will be held in the offending team's zone, in the circle closest to the site of the penalty.
Crease penalties may be negated under the following circumstances:
a) Goaltender outside of the crease -- If the goaltender has exited the crease, one skater may enter the crease and attempt to block a shot without incurring a penalty. Play will automatically be stopped, and the referee will remove the penalty from the boards; the faceoff will be held in that team's zone.
Exceptions to this rule occur when more than one defending skater enters the crease, or when the goaltender returns to the crease at the same time that a teammate gains possession inside of the crease; in both instances, the crease violation will stand and the team will be penalized. This call is left to the referee's discretion and may not be argued.
b) Script errors - Occasionally, the crease detectors will call a penalty on a player who is clearly outside of the crease. In such cases, the referee will remove the penalty and the faceoff will be held at center ice; this call is also left to the observation of the referee and may not be argued.
4.7 - Delay of Game
"Delay of game" refers to a broad number of actions that result in unnecessary pauses or stoppages in gameplay that are not a natural result of the events that take place on the ice.
Actions that lead to or result in a delay of game penalty are detailed as follows:
a) Puck sent out of play by being shot into the air and over the boards three (3) times over the course of a game by one team; does not apply if the puck hits the boards, scoreboard, player or a net before being rendered out of play. Penalty applied to the player last responsible for sending the puck out of play. Additional occurrences will result in further penalties for each infraction.
b) Puck sent out of play by being shot into the air and over the boards during the final minute of the 3rd period (i.e., with 1:00 or less on the game clock), regardless of how many times the team sent the puck out of play beforehand; does not apply if the puck hits the boards, scoreboard, player or a net before being rendered out of play. Penalty will be called for each occurrence and applied to the player last responsible for sending the puck out of play; referee may elect to adjust the game clock to add any time that may have been lost due to the penalty.
This penalty does not stack upon itself, meaning that if the team sends a puck out of play for the third time during a game in the final minute, then they will not be charged with two penalties for one call. If the game goes into overtime, then any puck that goes out of play in the final minute of the 3rd period will be added to the team’s running count for the game.
c) Puck sent directly straight into the air, regardless of height, at any point during a game. Penalty called at the discretion of the referee and may not be argued; applied for each occurrence to the player who was last in possession of the puck at the time of the infraction. Referee may elect to add any lost time back to the game clock.
This penalty is not applied if the puck deflects off of the boards or nets while it is ascending or at the top of its arc. No exception is made for players who attempt to make a pass from behind the net by flipping the puck directly over the net.
A vertical puck can be given numerous definitions, and all of which leave room for argument while also introducing obscure and needlessly complicated rulings to determine whether or not a puck can be considered “vertical enough”. A loose definition, while not satisfactory, would be to label a vertical puck as any puck that is given more vertical trajectory than horizontal; this is useful for the sake of visualizing what a vertical puck may be, but it does not form the basis for this rule.
For the sake of brevity, this rule is designed to discourage three specific actions that are considered to be exploitative of the game mechanics and/or significantly detract from the sense of realism in the game: aerial self-passes, firing the puck toward the rafters, and flipping the puck directly over the net while skating behind it in order to make a pass to an attacking teammate in front of the crease. All three of these plays involve the use of a vertical puck, but are not considered illegal if the puck makes contact with the boards or the net while it is ascending or at the top of its arc. Referees will be trained on how to use their judgment to discern whether or not one of these three actions has occurred, and will compare the action on the ice to the examples they will be shown in their training when they make their call. It will always be a judgment call, but in this form, the intent is to reduce the amount of room left for argument.
d) Player other than a team's acting captain attempts to call a timeout; penalty applied to the offending player.
e) Team attempts to call a timeout after it has utilized all available timeouts; penalty applied to the team's captain.
f) Team accumulates three (3) faceoff infractions over the course of a game. Subsequent infractions will be penalized after each occurrence; penalty applies to the player who commits the last infraction (see Rule 4.4 for details).
g) Substitute player fully crosses center ice while in possession of the puck; both player's skates must pass the center ice line. Penalty applied to the offending player.
h) Goaltender crosses the blue line closest to their net while in possession of the puck; penalty applies if any part of the goaltender crosses the line, as this may affect whether or not the goaltender's pass registers as a two-line pass if the puck crosses both blue lines.
i) Players engage in any activities on the ice which impede the flow of the game or do not advance gameplay for a prolonged period of time; penalty to be called on the player responsible for these delaying or stalling actions. A delay of game call of this nature is left to the best judgment of the referee, who should pause the game and must first issue a warning, and may also add any lost time to the game clock if deemed necessary. If more than one player on the same team engages in these sorts of stalling activities, then the referee may select one player to serve the penalty.
j) Team uses a prospect/rookie and a veteran as substitutes, but fails to replace the veteran first when a rostered player arrives; penalty to be applied to the team’s captain.
4.8 - Too Many Players On Ice
A team is given a too many players penalty for having more players on the ice than is allowed at that point of the game.
This penalty most often occurs when a player steps back onto the ice before their penalty has expired. Teams can also be called for having too many players if a member of the team logs in or teleports directly onto the ice while the puck is in play. In both cases, a delayed penalty will be signaled prior to stoppage of the game.
If an extraneous player enters the ice, the team's captain must choose a player to serve the penalty who was already on the ice when the penalty occurred.
If a player incurs a minor penalty and skates onto the ice prematurely, then their initial penalty will be reset and replaced with a too many players penalty. If a player skates onto the ice prematurely after receiving a double-minor or major penalty, then a too many players penalty will be administered in addition and the captain must again choose a player to serve the penalty.
During any penalty, if an extra player who is not serving the penalty skates onto the ice, the team will be given a too many players penalty in addition to the existing penalty.
Section 3 - Double-Minor Penalties
A player who receives a double-minor penalty must leave the ice for two (2) minutes of game time. In contrast to minor penalties but similar to major/unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, a double-minor penalty must be served for its full duration; the penalty will expire only when the full two minutes have passed. Double-minor penalties continue regardless of the number of goals scored by the non-penalized team.
Currently, only one double-minor penalty exists within GOHA, as detailed below:
4.9 - Goaltender Interference
Goaltender interference refers, in a general sense, to incidents in which a player skates into or knowingly obstructs the movement of an opposing goaltender. Interference is penalized under the following circumstances:
a) Skating into the opposing team's crease and making any sort of contact with the goaltender immediately prior to or concurrent with a goal.
b) Pushing the opposing goaltender out of the crease or significantly out of position from the net at any time during gameplay.
c) Initiating contact with or otherwise blocking an opposing goaltender who has left the crease, in such a way that the player's contact or positioning impedes the goaltender's ability to return to the front of the net.
d) Pushing another player into the goaltender immediately prior to or concurrent with a goal, in such a way that it impedes the goaltender's ability to move freely.
e) Skating or standing directly in front of an opposing goaltender's crease while the goaltender is in possession of the puck, with the intent of obstructing the goaltender's ability to pass the puck or to attempt to quickly gain possession of a loose puck after a rebounded pass.
Any goal scored as a result of goaltender interference is immediately waved off, with the faceoff held in the offending team's zone.
Goaltender interference does not apply under the following conditions:
a) Contact outside of the crease was clearly initiated by the goaltender.
b) Contact was initiated by a player on the same team as the goaltender.
c) Goaltender skates into a player who was checked into the crease and left unable to move.
d) Player is penalized with a crease violation before or after contact occurs.
e) Goal is scored before any contact occurs.
f) Teammate pushes an opposing player into the goaltender.
Referees must determine who initiated contact, in what location, and in what fashion before administering a goaltender interference penalty. If contact with the goaltender is observed but the source of the contact cannot be determined, then play must continue unless a goal is scored as a direct or indirect result of the contact; in these cases, the goal is waved off with no penalty to be applied, with the faceoff held at center ice.
If a player is viewed to be continuously, repeatedly or deliberately pushing or boosting into a goaltender, then the player will instead be issued an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (see Rule 4.10d).
All cases of goaltender interference are based on a referee's best observations and judgment and cannot be argued.
Section 4 - Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalties
“Unsportsmanlike conduct” is a blanket term that applies both to in-game penalties and, in some cases, incidents that occur outside of a game. All unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are considered major penalties, which render a team shorthanded for five (5) minutes of game time.
Major penalties must be served for their full duration regardless of how many goals are scored by the non-penalized team.
Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties may also result in supplemental discipline in the form of conduct warnings or suspensions, depending on the player's history and the severity of the incident. Supplemental discipline is administered by management and handled on a case-by-case basis, with a verdict reached before the player's next game.
Goaltenders who are issued an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty must leave the ice to serve the penalty. The goaltender must be replaced by another member of the team for the duration of the penalty.
Referees who administer an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty must complete a notecard with an explanation of the incident and any pertinent information to support their call. This notecard must then be sent to the division manager for further review.
All cases of unsportsmanlike conduct are based on the observations and judgment of the referee or managers and cannot be argued during a game. [See Chapter 5 - Player Conduct for more information regarding unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and procedures for supplemental discipline.]
4.10 - In-Game Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct that are called during a game are administered for the following actions:
a) Arguing with the referee in an uncivil fashion.
b) Any and all intentional or perceived displays of hostility, disrespect, harassment or abuse toward spectators, players, referees and league officials/managers.
c) Stacking the crease - Refers to cases in which a team positions four (4) or more skaters inside or around its crease without actively defending for a length of time. This rule has been a point of contention for several seasons and requires further explanation.
Stacking the crease must not be confused with what is called a "collapsing" style of defense, which is utilized in ice hockey. In a collapsing defense, one or more forwards will skate toward their crease to either put pressure on any attacking players who are close to their net, to attempt to check the puck carrier or otherwise knock the puck free, or to provide additional coverage around the crease by actively filling passing lanes to cut off one-timers or by marking opposing forwards.
One of the main drawbacks to using a collapsing defense is that it will leave open passing and shooting lanes for opposing defensemen at the blue line. However, in GOHA, the use of defensemen in the attacking zone, and specifically defensemen waiting for passes at the blue line, is rarely seen. This aspect of gameplay eliminates one of the drawbacks to using a collapsing defense but still leaves it as a viable and, more importantly, legal strategy; players are mobile, actively involved in defense, and making hockey plays.
In contrast, a team that stacks the crease is one that merely holds its players back around its crease, setting up what is essentially a wall of coverage that becomes extremely difficult for opposing forwards to break through. When a team stacks its crease, its players are not actively engaging in defense and are instead idly skating in place or are completely stationary as they wait for the opposing team to approach the net. This strategy is permissible with stay-at-home defensemen, but is illegal when four or more players are involved.
A team that is guilty of stacking the crease may or may not be given a warning; this decision is left to the referee's discretion. If a penalty for stacking the crease is called, the referee must choose the player that will serve the penalty.
d) Repeatedly, continuously and/or deliberately skating or boosting into the goaltender.
e) Excessive attack while leading by six (6) or more goals - At any point during a game, if a team gains a six-goal advantage, they must not continue to press on with an excessive attack. For the purposes of this rule, an excessive attack involves any of the following factors:
i) Pushing three (3) or more players into the attacking zone; no more than two forwards may attack, and the third forward must remain in the neutral zone.
ii) Pushing one or both defensemen into the neutral zone.
Upon first observing any of the above conditions, the referee must first warn a team that it is in danger of being called for excessive attack via the team's captain. If these conditions do not change or occur repeatedly, a penalty for excessive attack should be administered; this penalty is applied to the team's captain or acting captain.
This rule no longer takes effect if the six-goal advantage is lost at any point during the game, and comes back into effect if the advantage is regained.
f) Captain requests substitutes and attempts to argue with the referee over which players they are receiving as subs; penalty applied to captain/acting captain.
4.11 - Next-Game Unsportsmanlike Conduct
If any of the circumstances outlined in Rules 4.10 or 4.12 occur outside of a game setting (i.e., while a player is not currently playing in a regulation game), then a player may have an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty applied at the beginning their next game(s), pending review of the incident by management. In other cases, if any of the actions listed below occurs in-game, then the player will also have an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty applied in their next game.
These penalties remain within the same division, meaning that a player who plays in both divisions but commits one of the following offenses in an NA Division game, as an example, will have the penalty applied only to their next NA Division game. Players who receive a next-game unsportsmanlike will have the penalty administered regardless of whether that player is in attendance at their next game or not; these penalties are designed more to punish a team for an egregious mistake made by one of their teammates, than to punish the player.
a) Player receives an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the final two (2) minutes of regulation time, where the game does not extend into overtime.
b) Player who is serving as a substitute attempts to argue with the referee over which team they are assigned to.
4.12 - Game Misconducts and Ejections
Game misconducts are reserved for the most egregious cases of poor sportsmanship and outright cheating. All misconduct penalties are input as unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the scoreboard, with the offending player ejected from the game.
A player who is charged with a game misconduct must leave the rink and the sim immediately. The team's captain must choose a player to serve the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but may substitute the ejected player with any other member of the league, regardless of position; in this case, the captain must establish and maintain communication with the referee, who must then maintain communication between both captains.
Game misconducts, and subsequent ejections, are administered for the following actions:
a) Conduct issues continue or escalate after a player receives an earlier penalty.
b) Player clearly and evidently leaves the game out of anger or frustration after receiving a penalty.
c) Refusing to comply with a referee's request to leave the ice or to remove any attachments.
d) Any action that leads to a serious disruption of gameplay.
e) Accusations of referee or management bias/favoritism.
f) Unfounded accusations of cheating.
g) Use of weapons, particle emitters, avatars that are excessively large or small, or other scripted attachments/equipment that are deemed illegal.
h) Starting, promoting, or spreading drama or destructive gossip in any form.
i) Discriminatory remarks of any form, through any medium; includes text, voice, gesture, visual, auditory or other harassment on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, disability, lifestyle, or any other criteria.
All game misconducts are subject to supplemental discipline, with the possibility of conduct warnings, suspension or permanent expulsion from the league, and will be reviewed by management and the commissioner.