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About Penatlies

WHAM players serve three minutes for minor penalties. Most penalties in WHAM games are minor penalties.

How to Serve a Penalty

When you get a penalty:

  • The referee will blow the whistle to stop play, point at you, and indicate what penalty you committed.

  • Skate to the penalty box (there is one for your team). The ref will usually open the door for you. If you did not hear what the penalty is, this is a good time to ask.

  • The ref will give penalty information to the scorekeeper.

  • The scorekeeper will enter the penalty on the clock and start your penalty time.

  • Keep track of your penalty time on the clock. In most cases, you will leave the box when your penalty time counts down to "0:00".

  • When you leave the box, open the door and leave the booth. Give the door a good slam. If it does not close, just leave it and the ref will close it next time they skate by.

When To Leave the Box

In most cases, you will serve the full three minutes of your penalty. You leave the box when the clock has counted down to 0:00.

If you are playing inside, you can talk with your team while you are in the penalty box to see if you should go to the bench or back on the ice when your penalty is over. You will usually go back to the bench, especially when playing outside because the penalty boxes are across the rink from your team so you cannot talk with them. In this case, when you leave the box, quickly skate across the rink to the bench where another player will be ready to go onto the ice.

There are a couple scoring scenarios that are good to know if you go the the penalty box. These can take some time to learn, so the scorekeeper can help you know what you need to do if a goal is scored while you are serving your penalty.

A Power Play Goal

When you go to the penalty box, the other team is on what is called a Power Play. This means that the opposing team has a 5 to 4 player advantage for the duration of the penalty time. (That's one of the reasons to avoid the penalty box!)

If the opposing team scores during the power play, you may leave the penalty box without serving the remainder of your three minutes. The penalty is over and your team will go back to five players on the ice.

A Shorthanded Goal

If your team scores a goal while you are in the penalty box, that is called a shorthanded goal because they were playing with only 4 players.


If your team scores a shorthanded goal when you are in the penalty box, you still have to serve your full three minutes. Your team will continue to play with four players until the end of your penalty time.

Minor Penalties

There usually aren't a lot of penalties in WHAM games, but they do happen now and then. WHAM is a non-checking league, but we are all on ice skates wielding sticks, so penalties happen.

Here are are the few penalties you will encounter most in WHAM games. The descriptions and images of the referee hand signals are from the USA Hockey Playing Rules.


Tripping is the act of placing a stick, knee, foot, arm, hand or elbow in such a manner that causes his opponent to lose balance or fall.

Video example of tripping



Hooking is the action of impeding the progress of an opponent with a pulling or tugging motion by applying the blade of the stick to any part of an opponent’s body or stick.

Video example of hooking


High Stick

High Sticking is the action where a player carries the stick above the normal height of the opponent’s shoulders and makes contact with the opponent.

Video example of high stick



Slashing is the act of a player swinging their stick at an opponent, whether contact is made, or not. Any forceful chop with the stick on an opponent’s body or opponent’s stick, on or near the opponent’s hands, shall be considered slashing.

Video example of slashing


Other Referee Hand Signals

You will notice referees making a lot of hand signals during the game. For example, wondering where the face-off will be when play is stopped? Look at the ref. They will be pointing to the correct face-off circle!

Knowing a few more basic hand signals will help you know what's happening during the game.


The one you want to see a lot of for your team!

There can be a lot of action at the goal, and you might not know if the puck goes in. The ref will let you know if there is a goal with a whistle and this hand signal.



When a player of a team sends the puck from their own half of the ice completely beyond the goal line of the opposing team. Play is stopped and a face-off takes place at an end zone face-off spot in the defending zone of the offending team. (Back where the puck came from.)

Confused? Again Snoop Dogg's explanation will clear things up with visuals.


Washout or Waving Off

The ref is indicating that play will not stop for things like a goal, icing, off side, or a penatly.

Play continues even though it looks like there might be a call. You will see this often when the refs wave off icing.

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