This is about an awarded goal on an illegal substitution in NHL hockey, or what I think would make for one. This has to do with an illegal substitute trying to stop disaster from occuring. Call it a kneejerk reaction. I only ask you use your imagination; I know this is the very definition of uncommon. But that's what I do, ask the uncommon questions no one wants to ask because they have wives and lives.

A team has its goalie pulled, either for a delayed penalty or at the end of the game; while in the attacking zone, they pass the puck back to the point, only to have it missed by the point man and head toward the unoccupied goal. Would it be an awarded goal if an illegal substitute from that team enters the game off the bench to race to stop the puck from going into the net somewhere in the neutral or defending zone?

The rule for illegal substitution has a clause in it for an awarded goal when the goalie is removed. However, it only takes into account a case where a "player" of the side attacking the "unattended goal" is interfered with in the neutral or attacking zone. It says nothing of the puck or its movements. So that's no good.

Rule 56.7 seems to support this, almost perfectly. It says, "If when the goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, any member of his team (including the goalkeeper) not legally on the ice, including the Coach or non-playing Club personnel, interferes by means of his body, stick or any other object or piece of equipment with the movements of the puck or an opposing player in the neutral or attacking zone, the Referee shall immediately award a goal to the non-offending team."

I'm guessing the above scenario is covered by this, since an illegal sub is not "legally" on the ice. I think the spirit of the rule is for obstruction from the bench, but it bolsters my case as well. The actual rule for illegal substitution doesn't say this - it's located under interference. Am I right with my analysis?

  • You seem to have answered your own question perfectly well here; the only people who could seem to give you a better answer would be the NHL themselves.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:01

2 Answers 2


I think you have it right, and while, perhaps, the rule was originally intended with bench interference in mind, the wording, being as it is and not "from the bench," was clearly intended to cover the scenario you laid out.

If you're going to award a best answer for this, you need to post the second part of your question, yourself and award it to yourself, since you did all the lifting on this one.


You are correct in your analysis of the situation. By its own definition in the rule book, the referee must award the empty net goal if there is any illegal interference.

The same situation applies if a player on the ice of the opposite team gets a hooking call, interference, slashing penalty, which results in the player incapability to shoot towards the empty net. Therefore, the referee should award the goal if a player of the opposite team interferes with the player shooting at the empty net.

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