The rules for cross-ice initiation game play have been created to maximize player engagement by increasing opportunities to interact with the puck and other players. A simplified version of the game allows younger players to focus on elements of the game they enjoy most.
- 4 vs. 4 format – a player may play goal, but full goaltender equipment is not required.
- Three-minute warm-up.
- Rink set-up:
- One set of barriers or two sets of barriers with a space in between for spare players
- Game length – 50 minutes (varies by region).
- Shift length – one minute in duration with an automatic buzzer or whistle sounding to indicate players change. The clock continues to run throughout the 25-minute half.
- Both games are synchronized.
- Officials work together to keep the games synchronized.
- Players change on the fly.
- If there are fewer than four players on the bench, the active player designated to stay out for the following shift must tag up at the bench prior to continuing play.
- There will be two face-offs during the game:
- The first face-off will start the game.
- The second face-off will start the second half.
- Player shifts are recommended to be one minute in length. A buzzer or whistle will sound to signal line changes. Length of shift may be adapted at a local level – ie. 90 seconds.
- On the buzzer/whistle sounds, players must relinquish control of the puck immediately and vacate the ice. The new players enter the ice immediately.
- Failure to immediately relinquish control of the puck or new players entering the ice surface prematurely may result in a penalty (see below) for the offending team.
Change of Possession
- Goaltender freezes the puck – the official blows the whistle to indicate the attacking team backs off and defending team gets possession.
- Puck shot out of play – the offending team backs off and the official gives the non-offending team a new puck.
- Minor penalties are noted with the official briefly raising their arm to indicate a penalty will be assessed. At the conclusion of the shift, the official notifies the coach of the infraction and the number of the offending player.
- If the offending team controls the puck after the infraction, the official blows the whistle and calls for a change of possession; the non-offending team is given room to play the puck (three-metre cushion).
- The offending player will sit out the next shift, but the team will play even strength.
- Should an infraction occur that would normally require a player to be ejected from the game (game misconduct, match penalty or gross misconduct), the player will be removed from the remainder of that game. Even under these circumstances, teams will not play shorthanded and no game incident report will be required.