Chapter 1 - Basic Rules
At its core, the set of rules used in GOHA is largely derived from those that are utilized in its real-life counterpart of ice hockey. If you are new to or are unfamiliar with the sport of ice hockey, you may consult with a GOHA Coach or read any of the following sources for a primer on the most basic rules of the game:
1.1 - Game Format
Regulation games in GOHA consist of three (3) periods, with each period lasting a total of eight (8) minutes of game time.
At the end of regulation time, the team with the higher score will be awarded the win. If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, then the game will advance to overtime.
For all regular season and postseason games, the overtime format will be sudden-death (i.e., first team to score wins), consisting of periods that are twenty (20) minutes of game time. These periods are played continuously until one team is declared the winner.
1.2 - Season Rules & Regulations
Season & Postseason Scheduling
The length and starting date of each season will vary from one to the next, based on factors such as the time of year, number of teams, and number of available players.
In general, a season will consist of a set of preseason games, followed by regular season games, followed by a set of playoff series. Preseason games will usually take place shortly after the season draft, and do not count toward any official standings results.
In the regular season, each team will play every other team a set number of times. Games during the regular season will be hosted on designated days and times for each division, which will be listed here and in-world when they are announced for the season.
The schedule for the season in its entirety will be announced several weeks before the season begins and is neither negotiable nor subject to change for any reason outside of postponements. The postseason schedule is announced at the same time as the schedule for the regular season, and is based on the playoff format that will be used for the season.
Games may be postponed and rescheduled only under the following circumstances:
A) Issues with team attendance or severe game disturbances
B) Technical issues that interfere with normal game functions
C) Midseason removal or restructuring of teams as deemed necessary by management
D) Known in-world issues that significantly hinder or prevent player attendance or otherwise render a game unplayable
E) Agreement between two teams to reschedule a game in lieu of a forfeit
F) Team files a successful game protest
At the end of the season, a grace period of at least one (1) week will be included in the schedule. All postponed games will be moved in advance to time slots during this grace period.
If a game that is in progress is interrupted and subsequently postponed, then the referee must make note of the period, arena, remaining time on the game clock, current score, players who are serving penalties or suspensions (if applicable), and the time remaining on any existing penalties at the time of the last stoppage before the game was postponed; the referee should then send a log of this information to management. Games that are interrupted will utilize this information to restart exactly as they were left off after being rescheduled.
In the event that a game must be postponed a second time, it will be moved to a later day in the grace period at short notice. If a game must be postponed for a third time, the league will follow one of two courses of action, detailed below:
A) If the game in question will not affect a team’s final placement in the standings, then the game will be rendered as void and neither team will earn any standings points from it; neither team will be credited with a win or a loss.
B) If a postponed game has the potential to affect the standings, then it must be played and will continue to be rescheduled as needed, extending beyond the grace period if necessary. In this case, the beginning of the playoffs may need to be pushed to a later date depending on the exact circumstances of the season, schedule and calendar.
If a playoff game must be postponed, it will be moved to the end of the series and will only be played if necessary; all remaining games will proceed as scheduled.
Management will attempt to work with team captains to find a suitable date and time during the grace period for any rescheduled games. If the teams cannot come to an agreement or have not offered a response, then management will appoint a date and time for the postponed game; once set, this appointment will be announced and cannot be changed. Teams may run the risk of missing some players or even forfeiting a postponed game if they do not show in time; under these circumstances, a team may not protest the outcome of a game that was rescheduled unless they are able to show proof of a scheduling error or a failure to properly post any changes made to the schedule on the part of management.
Under no circumstances may two teams collude with one another to force a game to be rescheduled. If it is discovered that there was communication among both teams to coordinate an effort to force the postponement of a game, then it will be rendered as void and both teams will sacrifice any standings points they may have earned from that game. If only one team engages in this activity, they will automatically forfeit the game. In addition, team captains and/or any members of the team responsible for these actions may be subject to supplementary discipline.
Regular Season Standings & Tiebreakers
Placement in the standings is based on a point and tiebreaker format similar to that used in the NHL. Teams earn two (2) standings points for regulation or overtime wins, one (1) point for overtime losses, and zero (0) points for losses in regulation time.
Tiebreakers will be utilized in the event that two or more teams collect an equal number of standings points. The parameters for the tiebreakers are listed below, in hierarchical order (i.e., if teams are even after the first tiebreaker, then the next will be applied):
A) Greater total of regulation and overtime wins.
B) Greater total of standings points earned in the season series between two teams; if more than two teams are tied, the tiebreaker will be based on the highest percentage of points earned in games among all tied teams.
C) Greater positive goal differential (difference between goals for and goals against) for the season.
The team that ranks in first place in the standings at the end of the season in the North American Division will be recognized with the Tomba Cup, while the top-ranked team in the European Division will be awarded with the Skytower Cup.
Each season will employ one of a number of possible playoff formats which will be determined by management during each offseason. Season length, time of year, the number of teams participating in a season, and placement of holidays or other events will play a factor in deciding which playoff format to utilize.
Playoff seeding will be determined by each team’s position in the standings.
Formats for each season may vary; this section of the rulebook will thus be updated on a season-by-season basis to remain current.
The playoff formats for Season 20 are as follows:
North American Division: Seeds 1 & 4 and Seeds 2 & 3 play in a best-of-five semifinals series. The winning teams advance to play in a best-of-five series for the Global Cup. Losing teams will play in a best-of-five TB Series.
European Division: All three teams play in a round-robin format, with each team playing a total of four games. The 1st-place team at the end of the round-robin will be awarded with the Arena Cup. The remaining two teams will play a two-game TB Series, with the winner decided by highest aggregate score. In the event of an even aggregate score, the teams will play in sudden-death overtime to determine a winner.
1.3 - Pregame Procedures
Before the start of a game, team captains must indicate to the referee whether or not the team will need substitutes. Captains are encouraged to start organizing their team well before the scheduled game time, as the likelihood of acquiring substitutes decreases as game time approaches.
Teams are assigned to their respective halves of the rink, based on their designation as home or away. In regulation games, away teams must wear dark/colored jerseys, while home teams must wear light/white jerseys.
Referees should begin the process of finding substitutes, once indicated, no earlier than 10-15 minutes before game time. If a referee arrives late, they may postpone the start of the game by a few minutes in order to have more time to set up the game or look for substitutes.
Referees will post notice, either through chat or via group notifications, if a team needs substitutes; see Section 3.1 for details regarding the use of subs.
A team may have no more than six (6) players on the ice (i.e., 5 skaters and 1 goaltender). If a team is shorthanded to start the game, then the other team can choose to either play with its full team, or to keep the teams at even strength.
If both teams start the game shorthanded, then the maximum number of skaters who may be on the ice through the rest of the game is adjusted accordingly, as listed in the following chart:
Starting Situation Maximum # of Skaters/Team
5v5, 5v4, 5v3 5
4v4, 4v3 4
The referee must begin setup either on or as close as possible to the scheduled start time. It is at this point that all players must register on their HUD onto the appropriate team.
Captains must signal that their team is ready to play once the game has been set up; if a team is present but does not signal that they are ready within ten (10) minutes after a game is set up, and does not indicate that they will be forfeiting, then the referee must start the game regardless of how many players the team has on the ice or whether or not any of its players are equipped, positioned and ready to play.
Both teams must signal that they are ready to play at the start of each period. Once both teams have signaled that they are ready, the faceoff will be taken at center ice and the period will begin.
Teams should be prepared to provide their own referees for each game if necessary, as unforeseen circumstances may prevent the referees who are scheduled for each game from arriving on time.
If a game cannot begin within thirty (30) minutes of the scheduled time, then it will be postponed automatically.
1.4 - Game Flow & In-Game Procedures
At the end of each regulation or overtime period, all players on the ice must switch to opposite ends of the rink, with each team keeping its designated bench. Any penalties that are on the board from the previous period will carry over into the next one.
Gameplay is continuous and can only be stopped when time expires or after a goal, penalty, infraction, or any unforeseen event that requires or forces the stoppage of a game. Most stoppages will automatically freeze the game, but a game may also be stopped manually by the referee.
The game timer will run continuously from the moment that the puck is dropped onto the ice surface for a faceoff. However, a puck will not be live until after a faceoff is won.
For the purposes of gameplay, a puck is considered to be “in play” when the particles around the puck turn from red to green following a face-off win. A puck will be considered “out of play” when it either leaves the legal playing surface or comes into contact with an illegal playing surface; see Infractions Ch. 4 for details.
At the start of each period, and after every stoppage, the puck will be put into play through a faceoff at any of the five circles on the ice. Only one player from each team may be allowed inside the circle to try to win the faceoff.
Players who are inside the circle must line up in such a way that the blade of their stick does not touch the center dot. Players who are outside of the circle must not have any part of their stick or skates in contact with the circle, and must only line up on their half of the circle.
No player may enter the circle until the faceoff has been won. Faceoff infractions may lead to a delay of game penalty, and are detailed under Rule 4.4.
Each team is given three (3) timeouts that can be utilized over the course of the game, including overtime. Timeouts may only be called out by a team’s captain or acting captain, and can only be initiated during a stoppage before the puck is put into play again (i.e., before the next faceoff is won). A timeout that is called while the puck is in play will not be honored.
All timeouts are one (1) minute in length. Timeouts may be used consecutively if more time is needed.
Timeouts may also be initiated by referees; a referee may pause gameplay at any time and call a referee timeout if deemed necessary.
In the event of a goaltender crash, timeouts do not need to be utilized, and once noticed by the referee, the game must be paused. A team will have three (3) minutes to either wait for their goaltender to return, or to dress a replacement goaltender; once this time limit has passed, play will resume regardless of whether or not the team is able to dress and equip a replacement goaltender in time. Teams must use their timeouts if they need additional time after the 3-minute timer has elapsed.
Any goals that occur prior to or concurrently with a goaltender crash will be allowed to stand.
See Chapter 4 for a detailed list of infractions and penalties.
When a penalty is issued, the offending player must leave the ice for the duration of the penalty and under most circumstances, cannot be replaced. The penalized team is said to be “shorthanded”, while the non-penalized team will be given a “power play”.
If a team scores while on the power play, then in most cases, the penalized player will be allowed to step back onto the ice and the power play will end. If a team scores while shorthanded, they must continue to kill off the remainder of their penalty.
A team can have a maximum of two (2) penalties on the board at one time.
If both teams incur an equal number of penalties at any given time, then they are considered to be at even strength. In this case, the teams will have the same number of players on the ice, and any goals scored during this time will not cause the penalties to end.
Depending on the arena, players may need to exit the ice after incurring a penalty either by skating to the benches, or if available, skating to their designated penalty box. If a player must wait inside the penalty box, if the team wishes to make a line change after the penalty expires, then the player must first skate out of the box and to the benches.
A referee may signal a delayed penalty after observing a non-crease penalty or if a team incurs a penalty while already facing a two-man disadvantage.
When a delayed penalty is signaled, gameplay will continue until either a goal is scored, the puck is frozen or rendered out of play, or a member of the penalized team gains possession of the puck; goaltender rebounds do not count as possession. Gameplay will automatically stop, and the referee will then input the penalty manually.
When a team incurs a crease penalty while already attempting to kill off two penalties, gameplay will be paused and the referee will announce that the penalty will be delayed. The referee must also determine which player is guilty of the penalty. When the team’s first penalty expires, the referee will immediately signal a delayed penalty and apply it after the next stoppage.
If a delayed penalty is signaled, any goal that is somehow scored by the penalized team will not be credited. If the non-penalized team scores, then either the oldest penalty on the scoreboard will be terminated, or if this does not apply, the delayed penalty itself will be negated. If the non-penalized team scores an own goal, the penalty will still be applied but the goal will be allowed to stand.
If an existing penalty is negated as a result of a goal, then the delayed penalty will still be applied.
Any delayed penalty that would lead to both teams playing at even strength must be applied regardless of any goals scored and cannot be negated.
A two-line pass occurs when a team attempts and completes a pass that crosses both blue lines on the ice surface. Two-line passes result in a stoppage in gameplay; consult Chapter 4 for further details.
If a team has any extraneous players sitting on the bench, they may opt to switch these players out with any other players who are on the ice. Line changes can be performed at any time during the game, either while the puck is in play or during a stoppage.
While performing a line change, teams must be wary of having too many players on the ice, which is a penalty.
Team captains must abide by the guidelines for ice time, detailed in Chapter 3, and take them into consideration when determining which players to play, and when to make line changes.
Pulling the Goaltender
A team may opt to move (“pull”) its goaltender off the ice and substitute them with an extra skater. The goaltender may only be pulled after a delayed penalty is signaled against the opposing team, or during the final minute of regulation time, but can be done either during a stoppage or in the middle of gameplay.
When a goaltender has been pulled, only one skater may enter the crease and block shots without incurring a penalty.
Forfeits can be invoked under any of the following circumstances:
A) One team fails to show up within ten (10) minutes of the scheduled start time.
B) A team does not have the required number of players to participate 10 minutes after start time.
C) The team votes by majority to forfeit before the game begins.
To avoid a forfeit, a team must have a minimum of four (4) players, of which at least three (3) must be rostered members of the team, and meet all other eligibility requirements (see Rule 3.1). A team may also avoid a forfeit by reaching an agreement with the opposing team to postpone the game.
Forfeits are treated as a regulation win and loss in the standings; the final score of a forfeited game will always be 1-0, with the goal to be scored by a member of the winning team. This goal applies to any tiebreaker scenarios that may emerge at the end of the season, but will not be taken into consideration for individual statistical awards.
Conceding a Game
A team may opt to concede a game under the following circumstances:
A) One team leads by six (6) or more goals, AND;
B) The game has passed the midway point of the 2nd period, AND;
C) The majority of the team agrees to concede the game; captains cannot concede a game on their own.
The captain of the conceding team must notify the referee of the decision, at which point the game will be stopped and recorded as though it were complete. The final score of the game will be the same as it was when the game was conceded.
Stars of the Game
At the end of a game, each captain may select a star from the opposing team, and the referee may pick a star from either team. If the referee does not receive a star from one or both teams within a reasonable amount of time after the game, then they may select a star on their behalf.
Stars may only be awarded to players who participated in the game and are a rostered member of either team; stars cannot be awarded to substitutes.
Game stars will not be selected for any game that is forfeited or conceded.
1.5 - Tournament Rules & Formatting
The league may elect to host tournaments or tournament-styled events as a means of providing organized, competitive play during the offseason. The games in these tournaments are treated the same as any other regulation game, with referees appointed to handle each game and captains assigned to lead each team, and are subjected to the same rules dealing with game flow, substitutes, and penalties.
Historically, tournaments are put together by individuals or small groups of league members, and are typically overseen or assisted by league management; tournaments and other related events must be approved by the commissioner. Participants for each tournament are gathered through the use of intention cards; these cards are then used by the tournament organizer(s) to create rosters and designate captains for each team, with players hand-picked in a way that promotes the best balance among all of the teams. Tournament organizers are also responsible for creating the schedule of games and tournament format, collaborating with management to schedule referees for each game, creating jerseys, awards and trophies to hand out to players (if applicable), and determining the availability of every player that signs up.
Intention cards usually must be sent in before a set deadline in order for a player to participate in a tournament. Deadlines and other specific rules for the tournament must be clarified ahead of time by the tournament organizer. The specific rules and formatting for each tournament are released in-world and are also posted on the league’s website.
Any tournaments that are hosted by the league are to remain unaffiliated with the Global Cup or Arena Cup, and are to be cross-divisional in nature, meaning that all players are welcome to participate regardless of what division they play in during a regulation season. Unless otherwise specified, all league rules remain in effect during a tournament; if the rules for the tournament differ from the league’s rulebook in any way, the tournament organizer is responsible for clarifying what these differences are.