Ask a Ref

Here are some Questions and Answers asked to and answered by our Referee in Chiefs!

  • QUESTION - Quite often I will see two players "Bump" into each other. Sometimes one of them will fall down. It seems like when this happens the player that didn't fall down almost always gets a penalty. Why is this when clearly the two just bumped into each other?

  • ANSWER - Depends on the situation but if one player is gaining advantage over another player it is a penalty.  If both players are doing it to each other and neither is gaining a clear advantage no penalty will be called. Refs also have a different angle on the ice vs. what others may see in the stands or from the bench.


  • QUESTION - When 2 players are contesting a ring and both have their sticks in the ring, the referee will blow the whistle and give possession to one team. How does the ref decide which team will get the ring when that happens?

  • ANSWER - The principle for this call is “Move it or Lose it”.  The ring carrier has an obligation to keep the ring moving. If the other team legally stops the ring carrier from moving the ring (legal body position, checking,stick in the ring, etc.) the ring will be given to the team that did not last have possession.


  • QUESTION - What age do you no longer have to wear shoulder pads when playing ringette?

  • ANSWER - Shoulder pads are highly recommended for all players, however referees will not check for shoulder pads as it is not always clearly visible if a player is wearing them.

  • QUESTION - What can a coach do, when the reffing seems one-sided?

  • ANSWER - A coach can ask a referee about a specific call or non-call, or to express other concerns. Referees have no obligation to speak to coaches while on ice so we would urge coaches to be polite and respectful when engaging with refs. If the coach feels their concerns are not being adequately addressed on ice the next step would be to bring the issue to the attention of the referee in chief after the game. If parents have concerns please relay those to your coach and have the coach reach out to the RIC after the game.


  • QUESTION - We have always been told that no players go on the ice until the refs are there either on the ice or by the doors. Is this true or if the refs are late can the players start the warmup? What would happen if the players from a team or both teams started warmup without the refs?

  • ANSWER - As long as the zamboni doors are closed completely the teams are permitted on the ice. Teams can begin to warm up at this time.  However, the actual time for the warm up will not typically start until refs are on the ice.


  • QUESTION - If the timekeeper forgets to start the clock, does the play need to stop? Or can the time be adjusted at the next stoppage of play?

  • ANSWER - If caught by a referee the referee will stop the play. If the issue is caught within a few seconds the referee may decide to do a "do-over" and put the ring back where it started. If more than a few seconds elapse or a play has developed the referee will stop the play and give the ring back to the team with possession in the closest free pass circle. We never run time off of a game clock. If the game clock runs while play is stopped and the referee catches it, the referee will either add the elapsed time back to the game clock, or ask the time keeper to hold the clock for the amount of time elapsed at the start of the next play. The referee can only add or hold the clock for the amount of time that they see has elapsed, this may be different from the time that has actually elapsed.


  • QUESTION - What is the max penalty a player can get in a ringette game?

  • ANSWER - The maximum penalty that a player or bench staff can get is a Match penalty.  This is an immediate ejection from the game with a minimum of 1 game suspension.


  • QUESTION - What would be a situation that would result in a penalty shot in ringette?

  • ANSWER - While many situations could result in a penalty shot the two most common are: 1) if in the last 2 minutes of the game a player deliberately enters the restricted zone (four in violation) and becomes involved in the play. Whether or not this action is deliberate is at the discretion of the ref. Two examles of deliberate would be the 4th player arriving at the free play line, counting the number of players in the zone, counting again, and then entering; the other example would be the 4th player standing at the free play line and the coach is yelling at the player to go in despite this player knowing there are already 3 in. This is an exceedingly difficult call to make and as such is very uncommon to see.

  • The more common scenario for a penalty shot occurs when a player is taken down on a breakaway, for the penalty shot to be called the following criteria must be met

    • On a breakaway in the attacking zone

    • With the stick in the ring

    • No opponents to get past other than the goal keeper

    • A penalty must be committed 

    • The player is prevented from getting a clear shot on goal


  • QUESTION - Can you "tease" a two line pass? So if there is a two line pass, can the team come in and pretend they are about to stab it but not actually, and then the other team will go to touch it, but since the original team never actually touched it yet, the two lines is not yet called off. Is this allowed? Or if you "pretend" to stab the ring, is that showing intent and that counts as if you did stab it.

  • ANSWER - A skater (or the goalkeeper, if that player leaves the goal crease to play the ring) of the team that is eligible to play the ring must proceed to the ring without delay and play it within a reasonable time. Otherwise, the ring is playable by either team. If a player from the eligible team makes a fake on the ring, the ring is eligible to play by anyone.


  • QUESTION - What is the most number of penalties that could be served at one time? If one team has 4, 5, 6+ penalties happening at one time, would a referee do anything special such as perhaps warning the other coach/team, or even calling the game early?

  • ANSWER - A team can serve an indefinite number of penalties at one time, provided they can still ice a minimum of 6 skaters plus the goalie. I cannot imagine a situation where this would happen but yes a ref may call the game early depending on the circumstances surrounding the penalties. That being said the most I've ever seen at once is 3.


  • QUESTION - Please review the specifics of equipment requirements on the ice for players and goalies

  • ANSWER - We would direct you to the rulebook which is available on the RO website as there are a number of requirements that are too numerous to list here.


  • QUESTION - This year we have a lot of occasions where 1, or 2 and in one case three opposing players gathered around the ring on a two blue line pass.  Knowing the defending team must proceed to the ring without delay, often the only way is to reach out or around or through the offensive players who are “guarding “ the ring , so to speak.

  • ANSWER - If they have taken a legal position on the ice and do not move to impede the player eligible to play the ring or check the eligible player before that player has played or had a fair opportunity to play the ring then there is no issue.


  • QUESTION - I was under the impression that the only legal “sweep check” is one that is sideways motion. We see almost the majority of “sweep check” to be all upward motions or lifting of the stick . Sidesweeping is rare.

  • ANSWER - There is no stipulation on the direction of motion for a legal stick check. Upward motions, sideways, lifting the stick, and even motions from over the top are all legal stick checks provided both sticks are being contacted in the playing end of the stick (lower third).


  • QUESTION - Does this upward movement count as a Hooking call? 

  • ANSWER - No, please see above. The upward motion is legal provided it is on the lower third of the stick.


  • QUESTION - Is there a call for lifting? I reviewed and cannot find, but I thought it was illegal to lift?

  • ANSWER - A stick lift is legal provided it is not so extended as to cross into the territory of holding.


  • QUESTION - When the ring is coming towards two opposing  players, one, or both, start slashing each other sticks, as the ring is en route.  We have found often this starts 6’ or more ahead of the intended players.  We have also found that as the ring is approaching as described above, one of the players aggressively lifts or upwards slashes the other players stick prior to or as the ring arrives.  Is there clarification if this is legal?

  • ANSWER - In theory this could constitute an interference penalty. However the referee is far more likely to use a verbal "play the ring" or some variation rather than assessing a penalty. 


  • QUESTION - I feel a lot of teams have been engaging in contact when no ring is around especially in tournaments.

    I have had a couple instances that officials did clarify, just two players working hard for the ring, or looks like accidental contact. But often it is on a standing player getting hit by a moving player.  I have seen both against and my team doing this, so coming from a neutral perspective.  We have also found, the tactic of skating through a player after a play, or ‘accidentally’ running into a non engaged player , or player not deemed to be near the play. 

  • ANSWER - There are a number of factors that referees need to consider including age, skill, the game itself (league, tournament, final), and the intensity of the game itself. It is difficult to determine what is an accident, a fall, or something more deliberate, especially if the referee is newer or has not seen the teams play before. Referees try their best to assess penalties when appropriate, but referees also don't want to penalize one or both teams for every bump or collision.


  • QUESTION - I am shocked at a region level nothing has or is done to call out associations with high penalties 

    Our president and others have mentioned to the region, and understand this is not an officials duty, it is at an association level. Are officials made aware or conduct Any checks prior to games?

  • ANSWER - Referees are not made aware prior to games unless it is brought to their attention by coaches, boards, or other refs. There is no official mechanism to inform refs.


  • QUESTION - Do officials have any capacity or mechanisms to report to regions aggressive teams or patterns of aggressive or disruptive language for example?

  • ANSWER - Officials do not have defined mechanisms for reporting poor on ice conduct. Typically newer officials will let their RIC know if there is a particularly bad game, and from there the RIC will likely bring it to the attention of the RIC for that team's home association. In tournament settings these issues are typically communicated to supervisors or evaluators who will then take action in conjunction with the host association.


  • QUESTION - If there is an illegal number, we don’t see it on ramp game sheet , possibly missed by officials, is it our duty to report to officials or region board ?

  • ANSWER - This is an issues that would go to G&T, which goes by "Competitions" now I believe. Ramp has been a headache for everyone involved.

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