The ECHL has released their updated rulebook for the 2016-17 season.

This season will see only a minor change to the rulebook.  Beginning in 2005, teams were no longer permitted to change players after an icing.  Their only option to rest those players would be to call a timeout.  That strategy is no longer an option.  Effective for the 2016-17 season, teams will not be allowed to call a timeout immediately following an icing. 

Download the 2016-17 ECHL Rulebook


ECHL Historical Rule Changes 



  • A team is not permitted to call a time-out after being whistled for an icing violation


  • Overtime will consist of five minutes of “sudden death” in a 3-on-3 format. If neither team scores during the overtime period, the game will proceed to a shootout. The number of shooters per team in the shootout has been reduced to three. After each team has taken three shots, if the score remains tied, the shootout will proceed to a “sudden death” format.
  • The “spin-o-rama” move has been eliminated from the shootout. Should a player score a goal in the shootout while making such a move, the goal will not be allowed.
  • The distance of the hash marks on the end-zone faceoff circles in increased to 5 feet, 7 inches.
  • Two referees will be used for all games in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.


  • The ECHL adopts hybrid icing. The hybrid-icing system allows the linesman to blow the play dead and call an automatic icing if he determines that the puck will cross the goal line and the defending player is not behind in the race to the end-zone faceoff dots in his defensive zone. The faceoff would go to the far end of the ice. If the attacking player is leading the race, the linesman is supposed to allow the play to continue.
  • Teams will start overtime of all regular-season games in the opposite end they started the game.
  • The size of the trapezoid behind the goal has been extended to seven feet outside of each goal crease and eight feet from each goal post.
  • A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play will be assessed a minor penalty unless he immediately (a) exits the playing surface or (b) puts the helmet back on with the chin strap properly fastened.


  • A two-minute minor penalty shall be assessed to any player who removes his helmet prior to a fight.
  • The “Attainable Pass” icing standard was eliminated.


  • Anytime a player places his hand over the puck while it is on the ice in order to conceal it or prevent an opponent from playing the puck, a minor penalty shall be assessed for “closing his hand on the puck.” When this is done in his team’s goal crease area, a penalty shot shall be assessed (Rule 67.4) or a goal awarded (Rule 67.5). A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who, while play is in progress, picks up the puck off the ice with his hand.


  • The ECHL adopts the ‘Attainable Pass’ icing standard in conjunction with no-touch icing. Under this icing standard, the Linesman shall have discretion to wave off apparent icing infractions on attempted passes if those passes are deemed receivable (attainable). In order for the Linesman to wash out the icing for this reason, the receiving player’s stick must be on the attacking side of the center red line.
  • The ECHL also will follow the NHL standard for Boarding (Rule 41) and Head Shots (Rule 48).


  • A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact is not permitted. An automatic game misconduct penalty shall be assessed whenever a major penalty is assessed under this rule. The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head. If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the League Office at its discretion.


  • When players are penalized at a stoppage of play so as to result in penalties being placed on the penalty time clock to one team, the ensuing face-off shall be conducted at one of the two face-off spots in the offending team’s end zone.
  • The Linesman may stop play and report to the Referee when it is apparent that an injury has resulted from a high-stick that has gone undetected by the Referee.
  • When the puck hits the goal frame, goal post or crossbar and goes out of play the ensuing face-off shall take place at one of the end zone face-off spots in the zone where the puck went out of play.
  • An automatic game misconduct will be assessed to players whose elbow pads are removed other than through the actions of his opponent during an altercation.
  • A player who receives his third aggressor game misconduct will result in an automatic two game suspension. This suspension will increase by two games for each subsequent aggressor game misconduct.


  • If a defending player, from his defending zone, shoots the puck directly out of the playing surface, his team will not be permitted to make any player substitutions prior to the ensuing face-off.
  • The penalty Gross Misconduct is eliminated from rulebook. All penalties that would have warranted gross misconducts are now called as game misconducts.


  • Center red line eliminated for two-line passes.
  • Goaltender not permitted to play the puck outside a designated trapezoid-shaped area behind the net.
  • A team that ices the puck will not be permitted to make any player substitutions prior to the ensuing faceoff.
  • The size of goaltender equipment has been reduced by approximately 11 percent.
  • If a defending player from his defending zone shoots the puck directly out of the playing surface (over the glass) a penalty will be assessed for delaying the game. This rule was modified in 2006-07.


  • Ten-minute misconduct removed for player deemed to be the instigator of an alteration.


  • All players are required to wear a visor. Maximum length of goaltender pads set at 38 inches.


  • “Hurry-up” face-off and line-change rules implemented. “Tag-up” off-side rule reinstituted.


  • Teams to play with four skaters and a goaltender in regular-season 5-minute overtime. If a goal is scored in regular-season overtime, the winner is awarded two points and the loser one point. If no goal is scored in overtime then a shootout will occur.


  • Crease rule revised to implement a “no harm, no foul” standard.


  • Goal crease altered to extend one foot beyond each goal post (eight feet across in total). Sides of crease squared off, extending 4’6”. Only the top of the crease remains rounded.


  • Maximum stick length increased to 63 inches.
  • High sticking redefined to include any use of the stick above shoulder-height.
  • All players must be clear of the attacking zone prior to the puck being shot into that zone. The opportunity to “tag-up” and return into the zone has been removed.
  • A player who instigates a fight in the final five minutes of regulation time will receive a minor, a major, a misconduct and an automatic one-game suspension.


  • Overtime period eliminated from game. If a game is tied at the end of regulation, it will be decided by a shootout.


  • High sticking redefined to allow goals scored with a high stick below the height of the crossbar of the goal frame.


  • No substitutions allowed in the event of coincidental minor penalties called when both teams are at full strength.
  • Minor penalty for attempting to draw a penalty (“diving”).


  • Crease changed to semi-circular configuration.
  • Time clock to record tenths of a second in last minute of each period and overtime.
  • Major and game misconduct penalty for checking from behind into boards.


  • The goal lines, blue lines, defensive zone face-off circle and markings all moved one foot out from the end boards.


  • ECHL adopts use of NHL rulebook to govern on-ice play.