Team Russia had a goal taken away via offside challenge in their World Juniors Semifinal game against Canada.



Dan Hanoomansingh, a Level 5 Hockey Canada referee, weighed in on the play:

IIHF rules dictate that if a player’s skates enter the zone before the puck, they must have the puck on their stick to be onside. So, once the Russian player lifts their skate off the ice, that was always going to be offside.

Here’s the IIHF Rule for plays that are onside (IIHF Rule 81):

i. If the puck carrier maintains control of the puck while his skates cross the blue line ahead of the puck, he is considered onside provided that he first had control of the puck with both skates in the neutral zone and that he kept the puck on his stick until the puck fully crossed the blue line.

In this case, the Russian player did not have the puck on his stick at the time it completely crossed the blue line. Under the IIHF rule, it’s a straightforward call.

Under the NHL rule, the situation is a bit less clear. Per NHL Rule 83:

A player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered “off-side,” provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the leading edge of the blue line.

While the IIHF clearly defines both possession and control, the NHL does not.  Here’s what the IIHF says about those two criteria:

Control of the puck means a player is stickhandling with the puck or using his hands or feet to maintain possession of the puck. If the puck is touched by another player or his equipment, or hits the goal or goes free in any manner, the player is no longer considered to be in control of the puck.

Possession of the puck means a player is stickhandling with the puck, intentionally directs the puck to a teammate, or freezes the puck. Any accidental contact or deflection off an opponent, goal frame, or boards does not constitute possession.

Under NHL guidelines, it would be up to the officials’ discretion – or the league’s Situation Room – to make the judgment call on whether the player had possession of the puck at the time it completely crossed the blue line.

Dan continues:

In Hockey Canada rules, this is still offside but for different reasons. Kicking the puck qualifies as “possession and control”. So, if Russian player kicks it to himself, [the play would be] onside. But he kicks it to a teammate, so possession is broken, [which makes it] offside (because his back foot was off the ice)

Either way, good call after review and good learning opportunity for young lineys… We joke about the liney’s job being very basic and simple but we’ve had several examples of how complex their calls can be in this World Juniors tournament

Also, I understand complaints about the play being reviewable b/c the goal was scored 30+ seconds after the zone entry. At the end of the day, it’s a black & white call. It was offside and should’ve been whistled. If we’re not going to review that, why review anything?