In yesterday’s game BLR–FIN, at 59:16 with Belarus trailing 0–1, Belarussian player injured a Finnish player with a high stick, and received double minor penalty (2+2) for that. However, during the same game interruption, a Finnish player received a minor penalty for roughing (because he avenged the injury). (See the official game summary sheet.)

Normally, I would expect a four-on-four play be the result of those penalties (and normally, after two minutes of 4–4, a two-minute power play against Belarus). However, the referees sent two Belarussian players to the penalty box (and the Finnish player), and the play resumed with 5 Finnish players against 4 Belarussian.

I am unable to find any rule which would govern that situation. Can somebody explain that, or was that just a referee error?


2 Answers 2


There are differences between international and NHL hockey, but I believe in this case both would do the same thing: a new 4 on 4 situation is only created when there are an equal number of minor offsetting penalties to both teams.

When there is an uneven amount of minors, then the officials will give the team with one fewer penalty a power-play that is 5 on 4.

There are much more complex scenarios with major penalties and with the two teams having a difference of more than one penalty. The general rule is to negate as many penalties as possible before deciding who has a power-play.

  • Thanks; it seems I do not understand the coincidental penalties rule very much, I guess I’ll ask a more general question about that.
    – Mormegil
    May 24, 2012 at 19:35

Coincidental minors are given when a penalty for one team offsets a penalty of another team and play resumes with 4 on 4. If an additional penalty is given on top of the coincidental minors, the 2 minors still offset each other but the additional penalty results on a 5 on 4 powerplay. The coincidental minors will expire at the first stoppage after the assessed penalty duration.

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