FAST FACE-OFF RULE
  

This rule was introduced into most minor hockey associations across Canada during the 2002-03 season.  The rule cuts down on the amount of time it takes for a game to be played. It makes the pace of the game faster, thereby providing a much more exciting atmosphere for both the spectators and the people on the ice.

Once the whistle has blown for a stoppage of play and players have had time to complete any follow-up pushing and shoving, especially around the goal area, the referee will start to count 5 seconds in his head.  During this first 5 seconds time the visiting team will be permitted to change their players. Once these 5 seconds are up the referee will now raise his hand for another 5 seconds at which time the home team will be allowed to change their players.  Once the referee’s hand has come down the linesman will blow his whistle and start to count to 5 (some associations use 8 seconds) seconds in his head. Once the linesman has counted his 5 seconds he will immediately drop the puck regardless of whether or not both centre men are ready to take the face-off. 

There is one exception to this rule. If there are players that are not on side (on the same side of the face off line of their centre man) after the linesman has counted his 5 seconds, the linesman will not drop the puck. The linesman will however kick out the centre man whose teammate was not on side after the 5 seconds. This means that another player on the ice must immediately take the face off. If this happens frequently throughout the game it is up to the Referee to step in and assess the offending team a penalty. In some associations, this rule calls for players to be ejected instead of dropping the puck after the time is up.

This rule is designed to speed up the game because too many players were just dilly-dallying around and taking their time to get to the face-off spot on stoppages of play. Another positive benefit of the fast face-off rule is that there is no time for the customary pushing and shoving after the whistle. Instead, because of the importance of winning face-offs, you will see players rushing to the circle so that they are in place after the time is counted down. Centre men are constantly hurrying into position so that their team has a person to take the face off. In the early days of the implementation of this rule it was common to see a linesman dropping the puck with one centreman in place. This rarely happens today.