By Dave Zednik, IHOA Registrar
QUESTION: The attacking player chips the puck off the boards and is going to go around the defensive player. At what point can a body check, or any contact, still be legally initiated by the defending player?
ANSWER: The general rule of thumb is that a body check can be finished as long as the defending player is an arm’s length plus stick length away from the opponent when the puck was dumped and the check that is delivered is unavoidable – meaning it was in the process of being delivered when control of the puck was relinquished. It is not acceptable to skate one or two more strides after the puck is gone and then decide to deliver the check. Contact may also be legal provided the defending player maintains their normal skating lane and reasonable foot speed. In this instance, the obligation is on the attacking player to go around the defender. However, if the defender initiates contact by stopping or changing their skating lane to cut off the opponent, an interference penalty would be the correct call.