has become too common an occurrence in minor hockey today. A cross-check
occurs when a player holds his stick with one hand up by the butt-end of
the stick and then slides his other hand farther down the shaft of the
stick thus creating a space of about two or three feet between hands. You
will notice two or three feet of exposed stick with which to make contact
with an opponent.
that the stick is exposed between the hands, the player will take his
stick with his arms bent (stick close to his body) and thrust the stick
forward (extending the arms) towards an opponent, making contact on any
part of his body.
with other penalty situations, a referee must consider a number of
different things when making a determination with respect to calling or
not calling a crosschecking.
LOCATION OF THE HIT ON THE BODY
location of the stick contacting the opponent’s body is the crucial
determining factor for crosschecking.
Since the player has both hands spread apart on the stick it is
very difficult to cross check an opponent below the waist as the player
would have to bend over or be on the ice to crosscheck a person in this
area. Therefore, it is safe
to say that a crosscheck will normally occur in the upper body region of
an opponent’s body.
upper body of a hockey player is fairly well protected with the exception
of a few areas. The areas
that are not protected by equipment are the lower back between the tip of
the pants and the bottom of the shoulder pads, under the biceps closest to
the body, the armpit area, and the side of the rib cage.
Another area is the back of the neck because even though players
wear neck guards, there is very little protection from this little piece
of equipment in the back of the neck.
The final area of vulnerability is between the top of the glove and
the elbow pad.
of these areas have little or no protection from equipment, therefore if a
player cross-checks an opponent in these areas with enough force there
will most likely be a penalty called if the referee is able to see the
FORCE OF STICK HITTING THE PLAYER
though the crosscheck may have contacted an opponent in one of the
vulnerable areas, this does not necessarily mean that a penalty will be
called. You must remember that referees will let minor impacts go
unpenalized if they feel that this impact will have no effect on the
outcome of the game. Therefore,
if a defenseman who is standing in front of his net cross-checks an
opponent in the lower back, but it is with little jabs that are hardly
causing the opponent to even budge, then there will likely be no penalty
assessed. However, if the
defenseman was to really thrust the stick forward with a moderate to
severe amount of force that struck the opponent in the lower back causing
this player to fall to the ice, then the chances of a penalty being
assessed will increase tenfold. This
doesn’t mean that a penalty will be called, but the chances of it being
was mentioned before, there are game management principles that always
come into the equation of whether or not a penalty will be assessed. These
include such things as score, time remaining in the game, momentum,
emotions, number of penalties called thus far, even strength or short
handed, etc. We will not debate the merits of whether or not referees
should be calling by the book at all times. Many people argue that a
penalty is a penalty and every time an infraction occurs, it should be
called. The reality is that this will never happen, and if referees ever
did call “everything” by the book, there would be uproar from the
fans, coaches and players. The rulebook has been created as a pretty
comprehensive guide, and most hockey administrators and associations state
publicly that it the rules are there to be enforced, but no one likes to
watch a hockey game in which there is a steady stream of players going to
the penalty box for seemingly “minor” infractions. To give a perfectly
good analogy, one mile per hour over the speed limit is technically
speeding. Yet very few people would expect a police officer to pull over
every driver who was one mile per hour over the limit and hand out a
ticket. A similar situation occurs in hockey and this is where judgment
comes into play. The more experienced the referee, the better the judgment
CROSSCHECK ABOVE THE SHOULDERS
who strikes an opponent above the normal height of his shoulders with a
cross-check shall incur a Major penalty and a Game Misconduct penalty,
whether or not injury results.”
Although this rule sounds fairly straight forward it
still isn’t called by the book. Almost
99% of hockey rules are not called by the book because hockey would be a
terrible sport to play and watch if it was done this way.
recent years there has been an increasing tendency for players to deliver
a crosscheck to the head of opposing players. Referees have been advised
to deal with this type of infraction harshly, with no room for leniency.
It can be called many things, including intent to injure, head checking or
high sticking. In any event, when there is intent and force applied to the
opponent’s head, serious injuries can occur.
Because intent is entirely a judgment call on the part of the
official who cannot read minds, he must usually determine intent by the
force applied. The force of the crosscheck is easy to determine because if
the force is severe then you are likely to see the head snap in the
opposite direction of the crosscheck and sometimes the sound of the stick
contacting the helmet can reflect on the severity of the crosscheck.
intent can easily be determined by looking at how the player approaches
the check. If the player
wanted to throw a crosscheck at the shoulder or chest, then the stick will
most likely contact the chest before riding up and contacting the neck or
head. This will not usually be deserving of a Major plus a Game
Misconduct because the intent was not to contact the head.
It was a side effect of the original crosscheck.
It may be called a minor penalty, but a Major plus a Game
Misconduct is out of the question for the majority of these types of
however the player threw the cross-check and it went straight at the head
of an opponent with enough force that there is a potential for injury,
then you may see the automatic Major plus a GM called in this situation
because the referee can now determine that the intent was to make contact
with the head first.
referee can always upgrade the call to a Match Penalty if he feels there
was deliberate intent, not only to strike the head, but also to injure the
CROSSCHECKING THE GOALIE
people think that goalies should be “Fair Play”, meaning that players
should be allowed to check any goalie that comes outside his crease.
The goalies are protected by their teammates and also by some very
strict rules that apply whether the goalie is in the crease or wandering
outside the crease. However, the rules are even stricter if the goalie is
located inside the crease area and gets checked by an opponent.
a goalie gets cross-checked while located inside his crease, the referee
is asked to call a major and game misconduct penalty, but this call is not
always made simply because a referee usually knows what lead up to the
For instance, if a goalie is slashing an opponent, who is
screening him in the front of the crease, and this opponent turns around
and cross-checks the goalie, there is a minimal chance that the opponent
will be assessed a Major + GM. He will likely be given a minor penalty for
goaltender interference. And don’t for a moment think that the goalie
will be let off the hook. Any
goalie that instigates an infraction or situation will also be assessed a
penalty. In this situation the goalie would most likely receive a minor
penalty for slashing and a player from the ice would have to go to the
penalty box to serve the minor penalty assessed to the goalie.
rules are in place to protect the goalie from being contacted and thus
help prevent fights or brawls that tend to occur after a goalie is run
over. Cross-checks that occur
on goalies when the cross-checker is standing still or moving at a slow
pace will most likely be called a Minor penalty instead of the automatic
Major + GM that is supposed to be called as per the rule book.
The infractions that lead towards a Major + GM being called are
when a player takes a run at the goalie and cross-checks the goalie with
enough force to either send him falling to the ice or into the net.
It is the type of infraction that leads to an ensuing scrum or
fight that will be deserving of a Major + Game Misconduct, as this will
send a stronger message to both teams that the referee will not put up
with any cheap shots on the goalies.
although it looks fairly simple, will only be called when there is enough
force that can cause an opponent to either lose his balance, change
direction, or be injured. Along
with the force applied, a referee looks at where the stick actually
contacted the player as well. If
the stick contacts a vulnerable area on the body (area with minimal or no
protection) then there is a greater chance of a penalty being assessed
than if a cross check hits a player in the shoulder pad.