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2011-2013 USA Hockey Rules Changes
At the 2011 USA Hockey Annual Meeting, the board of directors voted on 173 rule proposals.  The board of USA Hockey passed 32 new playing rule changes that will go into affect this season for the youth and 18 new playing rule changes for the junior age groups.   Two major changes that will take affect are the tag-up offside's rule to the Bantam and older age groups, and the elimination of body checking in the Peewee and younger groups.
For more information on the 2011-2013 USA Hockey Playing Rules Changes, click on the links below…
With the beginning of the 2011-2012 hockey season comes the biennial USA Hockey rule changes. Below you will find some resources on the new rulebook and rule changes from USA Hockey, and also some specific rule changes that have been chosen to highlight in particular.
Highlighted Rule Changes (Commentary from Dave Hinz) 
Rule 201:  Composition of Teams

If at any time during the game, through penalties, illness, or any other reasons, there are no Team Officials on the players’ bench to be in control of and responsible for the team, the game shall continue provided there is adult supervision on the bench. If no adult supervision is available, the referee shall suspend the game and submit a report to the proper authorities.
Previously, there was no language here that governed if the game should continue or be suspended, either through lack of remaining rostered or certified coaches, or through lack of any adult supervision at all. Rule explicitly states that game shall continue if adult supervision is present (even if not a rostered or certified coach), and that the game shall be suspended if no adult supervision is present.
Rule 402:  Minor Penalties

(Note) (Except for Adults) Affiliates or governing bodies are authorized to reduce the length of minor penalties to no less than one and one-half minutes for games under their jurisdiction where the period length is reduced to 15 minutes or less.
Minor penalties must last a minimum of 1:30 – using penalty times like 1:00 is illegal in any age classification.
Rule 604:  Body Checking (Non-Checking Classifications)

(a)   Body checking is prohibited in the 12 & under youth age classification and below, all Girls’/Women’s age classifications and in non-check Adult classifications. A local governing body may prohibit body checking in any classification.
(Note) non-check hockey does not mean “no contact.” There will be legal body contact (see Glossary) within the rules in non-checking classifications. Legal body contact shall not be penalized under this rule. However, deliberate physical contact with an opponent, with no effort to legally play the puck, shall be penalized.
Body checking moved from 12U (Peewee) to 14U (Bantam).
Non-check does not mean “no contact” – one primary determination of legal vs. illegal body contact in non-check classifications is an “effort to legally play the puck”.
Rule 615:  Fighting

a.     A game misconduct penalty shall be assessed to any player whose helmet/facemask comes off their head during an altercation.
Game misconduct penalty required whenever a player’s helmet or facemask comes off during an altercation, regardless of intent.
(f) Any player who receives a second major penalty for fighting with the same team during the same season shall receive a three game suspension. For a third fighting major with the same team in the same season, the player shall be suspended until a hearing is conducted by the Proper Authorities under Rule
410 Supplementary Discipline: Automatic 3 game suspension for a 2nd fight in a season, automatic suspension pending hearing for 3rd fight in a season. Previously, the rulebook only specified a game misconduct penalty for any fight, regardless of how many fights in a season by the same player (although leagues and affiliates could impose additional standards).
Rule 620:  Head Contact

(a) A minor or major penalty shall be assessed to any player who contacts an opponent in the head, face or neck, including with the stick or any part of the player’s body or equipment.
Previously, the rulebook used language that the penalty was to be assessed when the player “intentionally or recklessly” made contact. New language indicates that all contact is to be penalized.
(b) A major plus a game misconduct penalty shall be assessed to any player who injures an opponent as a result of head contact or who intentionally or recklessly contacts an opponent in the head, face of neck.
Previously, the rulebook allowed for a minor, major, or major plus game misconduct penalty for “intentionally or recklessly” making contact. New language indicates that if contact is “intentional or reckless”, a major plus game misconduct must be imposed – there is no more option for a minor or major when contact is “intentional or reckless”.
Rule 630:  Off-Sides

The use of “delayed off-sides” aka “touch up offsides” is now legal for the 14U (Bantam) classification and older. Previously, only the Adult and High School classifications were permitted to use “delayed off-sides”.
Thanks to Dave Hinz for this important information and summary!