If a team has substituted the goalkeeper for a sixth skating player, and the opponent team has scored on the empty net while an opponent attacker was in the crease, should the goal be disallowed?

The attacker is obviously not interfering with the goalkeeper, and supposing they aren't interfering with any defender either, there seems to be no reason why the goal should not count.

2 Answers 2


The goal may be disallowed in this case because as rule 78-b of the NHL’s playing rules states,

Unless the puck is in the goal crease area, a player of the attacking side may not stand in the goal crease. If the puck should enter the net while such conditions prevail, the goal shall not be allowed.

Ergo, if the attacking player is standing in the crease while the puck is not in the crease, then the goal is void.

  • 1
    +1 Good job catching that. I find that refs don't follow this on an empty net because I think it was made to protect goaltenders, but I guess refs technically can call a goal off. Of course, if a defending player is in the net (de facto goaltender) this is a completely different story.
    – Nik
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 0:53
  • 1
    @Nik I think that's exactly the point, that although it may technically be a rule, it's to the discretion of the refs on how to act, and if a goal were ever called off in a game justified by this rule on an empty net goal, then there would be a lot of outrage. Ultimately I just don't think that there's any way it could happen practically, but that's not to say that refs wouldn't have the backing of the rules if it did.
    – Bob Smith
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 1:03
  • I agree completely.
    – Nik
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 1:04

In the NHL, there's no question that this is allowed since in the NHL, players are allowed to stand in the crease so long as they don't interfere with the goalie. Seeing as there's no goalie in the net to interfere with, I don't see how it wouldn't be allowed. An exception to this is if one of the six defending players chooses to attempt to play goalie and stand in the net, an attacking player standing in the crease could be considered interference if they interfered with the defending player.

However, international hockey games are a different story. There's no official rule stating if you can or can't do so. There is however a crease violation, which is meant to protect goaltenders by not letting players come into the crease. This leads me to assume that it's the same rule as with the NHL, which means, yes, you're right. On an empty net, it's safe to assume that crease violations are void due to the nature of crease violations.

Please note that this is not definitive proof, and should not be taken as a guaranteed fact.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.