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National Table Hockey League

NTHL Rules

Note : New or modified rules are indicated in red.


1 - DECORUM, SPORTSMANSHIP: The participants agree to adopt a sportsmanlike conduct and pleasurable for all. The main objective of everybody will be to have fun in a friendly manner. After a warning, the tournament organization reserves the right to exclude a participant that wouldn't respect this rule.

2 - TIMING: The games consist of a timed five (5) minute period with a referee. In the preliminary rounds, an organizer can use “running time” or “no referee”, at his will. And the ties are accounted for as such, and there is no overtime. In the playoffs, there is a mandatory referee and stop time also.  Overtime is possible (periods of 5 minutes) until the first goal. Each player can ask for a timeout of thirty (30) seconds per game.

3 - PLAY STOPPAGE CALLED BY THE REFEREE: There is a play stoppage and the timer stops when:
a puck is projected out of the surface of play;
a puck is inaccessible on the surface of play  (including behind the net, see rule #6);
there is a goal or a disallowed goal (see the rules #9-10);
there is a defective part (see rule #7);
the 5 seconds rule is not respected (see rule #5);
the puck is frozen in the goalie crease for 3 seconds. The opposing centerman can hit the goalie before the expiration of the 3 seconds delay;
the referee judges that a situation necessitates a play stoppage.

4.1- FACE-OFFS: All face-offs are done at center. During a face-off at center, the center figurines and the base of the rods must be outside the face-off circle. The winger-figurines may be placed anywhere and the defensemen-figurines must be placed behind the defensive zone blue line. " When the players are ready and well placed, the referee drops the puck about 3 inches from the surface of the board and restarts the timer only when the puck touches the surface of play. During the face-offs, the centers have the right to move only after the puck touches the surface of play. If a player moves or hits the puck before it touches the surface of play, there is a «jump» or false start and the referee must stop the timer and redo the face-off.  (See 4.3 and 4.4 below)

4.2-FACE-OFF GOALS: Face-off goals that count are goals where the puck is hit for the "second time" by a "controlled player".  On a face-off, the center is always the first "controlled player" to hit the puck. If a puck is "touched" for a second time by a "controlled player" and goes in a net, it’s a goal. "Controlled player" meaning: The player’s rod was pushed, pulled or spun.  A stationary player that deflects a puck, without the rod being pushed, pulled , or spun, is not a "controlled player" As soon as a center shoots the puck out of the face-off circle, the next "controlled player" who touches the puck including centers can score a goal.   "Controlled player" meaning: The player’s rod was pushed, pulled or spun.
If a goal is scored in your own net on a second movement by a “controlled player” meaning: The player’s rod was pushed pulled or spun, the goal is good.

A goal will not count if the puck goes in directly from the face-off.
A goal will not count if the puck goes in directly from the face-off even if it hits the side boards and/or the back boards before going in.
A goal will not count if the puck goes in directly from the face-off even if it hits a stationary player before going in.

4.3 FALSE STARTS:  A false start occurs if any part of a player's center (i.e. stick, or base) enters the face-off circle before the puck hits the ice, or if any part of his stick hits the puck before the puck hits the ice.  In such cases the referee shall stop the play and the clock immediately,  and conduct another face-off.  A false start  also occurs when, in the referee's judgment, the puck drop itself was unfair -- e.g. did not land close enough to center-ice , giving one of the players an unfair advantage. In that case the referee shall stop the play and the clock immediately, and conduct another face-off.

4.4 PENALTY FOR TWO FALSE STARTS: If the same player commits two false starts on the same faceoff, the puck shall be given to the opposing player's winger of choice.  The puck shall be placed in the corner, behind the red line, with the winger outside the blue line.  When both players are ready, the referee says "go" and restarts the clock as soon as the winger touches the puck. The winger then initiates play, and any goal subsequently scored will count.


5 - «5 SECONDS» RULES: When a player takes possession of the puck, a player disposes of a maximum of 5 seconds to try a pass, a clearing or an attack (passes from «winger-to-winger» or «defenseman-defenseman» behind the net are not considered like being a new take of possession). If this time limit is not respected AND/OR that the referee judges that this player lets time go down voluntarily, the referee calls a play stoppage and then gives the puck to the opponent’s winger of choice.

6 - DEAD ZONE BEHIND THE NET:  When the puck lies in the dead zone behind the net or in the little basket behind the goal, for any reason, the referee calls a play stoppage and then does a face-off at center.

7 - FALLEN FIGURINE AND DEFECTIVE PART:  If a figurine falls (all, except the goalie) or that a minor breakage occurs (removed knob, rod without any zip , goal lightly removed, etc), the game continues until the disadvantaged player regains possession of the puck. This player than has the choice to ask a stoppage of to continue to play at his own risks. If he asks a play stoppage, the referee gives it to him and then does a face-off at center. When the goalie falls down or that a major breakage occurs (removed spring, broken end-shield glass, moved and displaced board or uneven board, pulled off goal, etc), the referee must demand an immediate play stoppage and then will execute a face-off at centre. Please note that a player can ask for a play stoppage when a goalie falls, but its the referee that decides to stop play and the timer and not the player. When a goal is scored during a situation of a fallen goaltender, its the referee that will judge if the goal is good or not; meaning that if the goalie fell after the goal or not. In the event that any goalie falls before a goal, the goal is no good even if its on the same sequence of play.

8 - DIRECTIVES AND OTHER MISCELLANEOUS INTERDICTIONS:
the goaltender zone (red rectangle) is forbidden to defensemen, that must stay completely outside this zone, except if the puck enters in the zone before;
rods can only be touched by the hands (not the forearms or any other body part);
it is forbidden to play the «helicopter» (i.e. turn his player non stop) or the «saw» (i.e. do an excessive continuous up-and-down movement with a figurine).  Sustained forechecking but in a reasonable way is allowed;
it is forbidden to move or to shake a board during play;
it is forbidden to use a rod to tilt or deform (even slightly) the surface of play (play the «crack»);
it is forbidden to touch the figurines, the puck or any other part inside the surface of play during the course of play;
it is forbidden to use modified figurines or any other figurines than those furnished by the organizers of the events;
it is forbidden to use the goalie in reverse position.

In all these infraction cases, the referee must stop play and remit the puck to the winger of choice of the non guilty player. Thus the referee will place the puck on the side of the board and also on the red goal line chosen by the offensive player (non guilty) and then he can restart play as soon as the puck is deposited by the referee. Also the referee must start the timer only when the player that attacks touches the puck. Thus both players must be ready without any express demand by the referee, meaning that the offensive player can restart play right away after the puck is deposited by the referee, and the player on defence must be ready without warning.

9 - GOAL: A goal is allowed when the puck enters entirely into the net and remains in. Thus the puck must cross completely the red line. In the case when the puck immobilizes itself on the goalie rod completely behind the red line, the goal is allowed. If a player moves the goalie rod forward in order to make the puck touch the goal line, the referee will allow the goal.

10.1 - DISALLOWED GOAL: 
a goal scored by «ramming» will be refused  («ramming»: assault at the net by the centerman or shove, of the board provoking a movement of the board);
the center figurine hits the goalie after the 3 seconds delay, when the puck stops in the goalie crease (red rectangle), causing the puck to enter in the net;
a goal will be refused if there is no more time left on the countdown timer or if the count up timer indicates 5:00 min.
Please note that goals scored following a face-off (at center) do not count,  except as specified in rule #4.2!

10.2 - VIDEO EVIDENCE: If video evidence of a disputed goal is available, the referee and referee in chief should review the video. If after review it is clear that the puck entered the net before time had expired, then the goal will be allowed even if the game clock shows 0:00 or 5:00.


11 - GRACE RULE: In the preliminary round, a game cannot end by more than a seven (7) goal spread.  When the spread of seven (7) goals is reached, the game stops, period, whatever the score (for example: 7-0, 8-1, 9-2, 10-3, 11-4, 12-5, etc.). This is to encourage «fairplay», because some players didn't hold back running up the score, after a 7 goals spread.

12.1 - REFEREE: The referee is in charge of the good flow of the game. He must apply the rules, do the face-offs, do the management of time and keep score. At any moment, he must focus his attention to the game in course. His decisions must be taken in all good faith but are WITHOUT APPEAL. No protest will be tolerated. If a problem arises, he can refer to the referee in chief (see 12.2). At his discretion, the referee can consult a video replay, if that is possible.

12.2 - REFEREE IN CHIEF:  Prior to the opening face-off, the tournament organizer will identify a referee in chief (other than himself), who will be the final arbiter in any dispute. However, as per rule 12.1, in purely judgement calls the referee's decision is final. The referee should refer to the referee in chief only in matters concerning correct application or interpretation of the rules. In such matters the referee in chief's decision is final.

12.3 -  ACTING REFEREE IN CHIEF: If the referee-in-chief is himself a player involved in a disputed call, he may not adjudicate. Rather, in such cases the tournament organizer will become Acting Referee in Chief, and will adjudicate according to 12.2 above.

12.4 - ALTERNATE ACTING REFEREE IN CHIEF: In the event that both the named referee-in-chief and the tournament organizer are about to play a refereed game or playoff series, they shall name an Alternate Acting Referee in Chief before their contest begins.  If necessary, the Alternate Acting Referee in Chief will adjudicate according to 12.2 above.

12.5 - If the procedures in 12.1 - 12.4 are not properly followed, the NTHL may elect to review the dispute in question, in which case the NTHL's ruling will be final.

Tournament Policies on Tiebreaking and Delays:


Tiebreaking in the rankings (between 2 players or more):

In case that 2 players or more get the same number of points in a round ranking or in the final ranking, we have established the following 4 rules of differentiation, in the following order please:

1) the number of Victories;
2) the Differential (Goals For  Goals Against);
3) The Record between the 2 players, if needed (if 3 players, compute the record between each player and the 2 others);
4) the first one to score a Goal, in a tiebreaker game (only if necessary!).

Policy delays:

Players often have to travel to get to the tournament, it may on occasion cause delays.
We have developed a policy of delay with the following three objectives:

Respect punctual players
Encourage players to make all the necessary efforts to arrive on time
Reasonably accommodate travelers.

The organizers are required to publish a number of reliable phone (cellular) numbers for the day of the tournament. Any player with a delay due to unforeseen circumstances should contact the organizer before the deadline of registration. Otherwise, the tournament will start as scheduled.

In the event of an imminently late player the organizer may decide to use one of the following options:

If the delay is minimal (the player is about to arrive): Wait a few minutes before starting the tournament (maximum 15 minutes).
If the delay is slightly larger and the "pools" allow: Start Tournament at the scheduled time by changing the order of the round to begin with the round not involving the player playing.
If the delay is long and the pools do not allow a workaround: Exclude the player from the first round. Then, if the player is in the top 20 of the Quebec Cup, they will be relegated to the class C for the second round. A player who is not in the top 20 will be relegated to the lowest class (C, D or E).
If the delay does not allow the player to arrive for the second round: Total Exclusion tournament.