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Fraser: When is it legal to make contact with the goalie?

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Kerry Fraser
1/6/2014 1:14:55 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca.

Kerry,
 
In the first period of Saturday's Montreal-Ottawa game, Brendan Gallagher is called for goaltender interference. Craig Anderson is outside the blue paint trying to make the save
 
When is it legal to make contact with the goalie without a penalty? It seems they can leave the crease, wander around, check a player but touch the goalie and a penalty is called! If his domain is the blue ice then stay in there and if you come out be prepared to bite the bullet!
 
Bill George
 
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I have a short question regarding a rule in international hockey. At this year's WJHC, I noticed numerous times that play was whistled down when a player from one team entered the crease of the opposing team's goalie.  Yet other times when a goal was scored by a player who had also clearly been in the crease. Why is the play not blown dead then or the goal taken back like the days of old in the NHL? Or is this a rule as entertaining or confusing as the shoulder vs. crossbar high stick call?
 
Thank you for your time,
Jason Hoef
 
Bill:

In watching the play closely we see that Craig Anderson was actually set to play a shot (butterfly position) at the top of his goal crease with both skates and pads visible inside the blue paint. Montreal's gritty little pest, Brendan Gallagher attempted to set a legal screen tight to the top Anderson's crease and while facing the shooter. In doing so, Gallagher reached back with his left glove (top of stick hand) which contacted Anderson in the facemask and knocked the Sens goalie off of his set position. Due to the fact that Gallagher reached back with his hand and stick resulting in contact with Craig Anderson inside his goal crease, the referee deemed it to be more deliberate than incidental and assessed the appropriate penalty for goalkeeper interference.

The overriding rationale and language of rule 69 (Interference on the Goalkeeper) is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. In all cases in which an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease and whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a penalty.

Let's take the scenario where the goalie is setup outside of his goal crease to cut down the angle and for the purpose of challenging the shooter, Rule 69.4 applies: If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed. A goalkeeper is not "fair game" just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

The ambiguity contained in the language of this rule beginning with the word "However…" places huge responsibility and pressure on the referee to ascertain incidental contact and if the attacking player made a "reasonable" effort to avoid such contact! Most often the benefit will (and should) go to the goalkeeper that is set to defend the incoming shot.

When a goalkeeper's motion/movement outside of his crease and prior to establishing a full set, results in contact with an attacking player and a goal results it should be deemed a good goal. The harsh truth, Bill, is that goalkeepers are provided special protection due to the unique nature of their position as provided and defined by the rules committee.

Jason:

The IIHF rule book states: Rule 534 - Interference - If an attacking player deliberately stands in the goal crease, without interfering with the goalkeeper, the referee shall stop the play and the ensuing face-off shall take place at the nearest face-off spot in the neutral zone.

As you alluded to, Jason, once the puck enters the goal crease attacking players are allowed to enter the crease and legally play the puck. Rules then apply to the legal scoring of a goal.

Exceptional coverage of the 2014 World Juniors was provide for TSN by Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro in Malmo, Sweden as well as analysis by James Duthie and Bob McKenzie back in the studio. Terrific work as always men!

Gallagher crashes into Anderson (Photo: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
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