MARBELLA, Spain – The IIHF Semi-Annual Congress approved a set of rule changes and introduced the first Growing the Game Fund programs on the final day of the Semi-Annual Congress.
The vote on the rule changes concluded a year-long process conducted by the IIHF Player Safety Committee, which received and discussed over 100 minor and major rule change proposals from the IIHF Member National Associations and IIHF Committees.
“We had so many technical people involved in this process to help form our recommendations with the submitted rule proposals,” said Bob Nicholson, IIHF Vice President who oversaw the rule change process as chairman of the Player Safety Committee. “But what I liked most about this process was that both the small and big ice hockey countries had good discussions during the workshop.”
In total 11 major rule changes or new rules were approved. Among the most notable changes include:
-Goal crease in IIHF competitions will be changed to match National Hockey League specifications
-Team staff will be permitted use of electronic tablets on the bench for statistical and tagging purposes
-Relaxed rules for goals scored when the net frame is displaced. As long as the posts are at least partially on the pegs then a goal will count if the puck crosses the goal line
-Video goal review criteria will include goaltender interference
-Goaltenders will be penalized for covering a puck in certain cases where they are able to play it
-Revised definitions for injury classification
The new rule changes will be written into a new rulebook and will go into effect for the 2018/19 season, meaning they will not be put into place for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games and the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
“We will work with the IIHF staff to try and get the new IIHF Rule Book out in April or May, so that the countries can get it translated,“ added Nicholson.
The Semi-Annual Congress was also updated on the new IIHF/Infront Growing the Game Fund, a long-term funding program for ice hockey development initiated between the IIHF and its marketing partner Infront Sports & Media.
“The Growing the Game fund’s mission is to achieve a long-lasting impact on ice hockey development throughout the world,” said IIHF General Secretary Horst Lichtner. “We would support with this money specific development projects and needs and strategic programs that would bring ice hockey to a new level.”
The key objective of the fund concept is to strengthen the sport in all its aspects, including but not limited to:
-Appeal to children as a sport to play
-Attractiveness to fans and audiences
-Competitive and sport quality
-Solidarity and unity impact within the global ice hockey family
Those who can apply for the fund include Member National Associations (either individually or in groups of up to seven), IIHF Committees for the purpose of extraordinary projects/initiatives, and non-IIHF entities for independent initiatives such as ice hockey related research studies/projects.
The funding of a project/initiative is linked to fulfillment of the following conditions:
-It must have the goal of sustainable development of ice hockey
-It must be different to projects covered by the existing development programs led by the IIHF Committees
-It must be submitted with a clear project plan including the complete budget, the detailed use of the financial funding and the timeframe of the project
-It should provide benefits to more than one MNA or to ice hockey in general and it must have an innovative component and the potential to create a lasting impact
“Special consideration will be given to projects/initiatives that demonstrate innovative strategies and realistic targets,” added Lichtner.
The Growing the Game Fund was presented earlier during the IIHF Annual Congress, and the pilot project selected for funding were shown to the Congress.
Four separate projects from the German Ice Hockey Federation, the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation, and the Dutch Ice Hockey were selected as the first recipients of the Growing the Game Fund.
The Germans came up with two projects, the first being a “We are Hockey” digital media project that would feature an overall hub for collecting information about hockey and producing video content to host on a webpage and social media platforms. Another project focused on introducing youth from migrant backgrounds to ice hockey as a method for social integration and cultural integration was also presented.
An IT Upgrade and new software project designed to provide analysis and and an education system for sports clubs was approved for the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation. While the Dutch will focus on renewal of its development system via a three-pillar approach targeting junior player development and club development, community-building within ice hockey, and a retooled office structure that would allow for the federation to become more service-oriented to its stakeholders.
Following the presentation of the projects, the Semi-Annual Congress was informed that MNAs can make their own applications prior to the start of the new year.