How to Call an Icing
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For a linesman, calling icing is perhaps not as straightforward as it might seem based on the rulebook. Sure, when a player shoots the puck from behind his or her red line past the opposing goal line it’s an icing. However, there is a substantial amount of judgement that is required to call an icing.
The primary judgement that a linesman needs to make is whether the defending team could have made a play on the puck. Some situations you might see will include:
– A defending player pursuing the puck slowly down the ice to allow it to cross the line.
– A defending player choosing to make a hit instead of playing the puck.
– A defending player either lifting their stick or pivoting in the opposite direction of the puck.
These types of situations require judgement and focus from linesmen. You should always ask yourself whether the player made a reasonable effort to get the puck. You can even ask yourself “if I was that player could I have made a good attempt to get the puck?”.
In moments of doubt, I would suggest to err on the side of calling the icing. This is because at the end of the day, it’s the team that is icing the puck that is committing the rule violation, so you don’t want to reward that team by being overly strict on the defending team.
Some things I have learned over my time in being a linesman include talking to the players pursuing the puck on the defending team – telling them to keep moving their feet, allowing icing in any situation that the puck was at least a few feet off the ice – because that is not considered a playable puck by a defending player, and lastly when a team is icing the puck there is a difference between shooting the puck, and simply flicking or lifting the puck (when a full shooting motion often the follow-through will enable the player to gain the red line, whereas flicking the puck will not).
Throughout the icing process, it is important that the back linesman makes his or her signal immediately, as the primary judgement should stay with the front linesman.
In terms of positioning, it is important that the back linesman continues to follow the play up the ice, in case the icing gets waved off at the other end – in which case you can cover your partner’s blue line. NOTE: In leagues using no-change icing, it is important that the back linesman is aware of the defensive line changes, including the numbers of the players that were on the ice.
Keep in mind that player safety remains an important component of our job as linesman. If we are going to wave off an icing, we should do it as early as possible, so that the players pursuing the puck have as much time to defend themselves as possible.