What is Interference in Hockey? (Goalies and Players)

interference in ice hockeyIn hockey, there are several offenses that will land players in the penalty box.

There are several egregious penalties, like checking from behind, tripping, and fighting.

These are relatively easy for referees to see.

But…there are others that are slightly more difficult for referees to see. One of those is interference.

So if you’ve ever wondered what interference is in hockey, and why it is called then read on!

So what is interference?

This penalty involves a player getting in the way of an opponent who does not have the puck.

Interference is also called when a player purposefully forces a stick out another player’s hands, and it also happens when a player drops a stick and another one prevents him from picking it up.

In its simplest form, interference is the act of getting in the way of another player’s attempt to remain in the game.

The most recent update

One of the most recent changes to the interference rule happened in 2018. The rule change involved goalie interference, which has been a troublesome call for referees in previous seasons.

The big change is that the call is no longer made on the ice, it is made in what the NHL calls the Situation Room where video replays will be used to determine if goalie interference was involved in scoring a goal. If interference is called and a goal was called on the ice, then the goal will be recalled.

How the calls are determined

interference penaltyThere are several situations that could affect whether no goal is called when a goal should have been called. The Situation Room will also address this issue and will overturn the call and award a goal if:

  • No contact was actually made with the player and goalie
  • The player was pushed by another player, then came in contact with the goalie
  • The player was in the crease but did not affect the goalie’s ability to make a play

Why is the rule is unpopular?

For hockey fans, this rule is not popular!

The problem is due to the complexity of goaltending in the first place. When players get near the goal, the goalie has to not only watch the puck, but he has to make sure that he is not getting involved in a potential penalty situation with another player.

Hockey players don’t score many goals in the first place, and now that the goalie interference call is being made by people who are using video replay, the number of goals scored could actually decrease.

Since coaches have to burn time outs to attempt to overturn a call, it might not be worth it for them to do it. Challenges slow down the game. While it’s good to know what really happened, the game has changed for the worse in the minds of some because of video replay.

The difficulty with Interference

goalie interference penaltyAn easy way to understand why the goalie interference call is so troublesome and was passed to the main office in Toronto is to compare it to the NFL.

There are issues when referees do not know when a catch is actually a catch. Referees, whether on the ice or watching video replay, are not always sure when interference is actually interference. It is very difficult in real time to determine if it is just a goalie trying to do his job and keep the puck from entering the goal.

When a big game is on the line, it is important that the game is properly called. But, the game needs to be played, too.

The trouble lies with the intent of the action being looked at by the Toronto office and intent is difficult to determine – in some cases. But, until a better option is decided up by the GMs, interference calls will remain what they are: controversial.

Conclusion on the Interference penalty in Hockey

We hope that this article has helped you understand what interference is is ice hockey, how the penalty is called, and why it has had it’s share of controversy. As you can see this is a difficult penalty to determine especially in real time with how quick the game is played!