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USHL Announces Rules Changes

01/24/2017, 9:45am CST

The USHL announced rules changes that will take place beginning in the 2017-18 season, goaltending rules changes for 2018-19 season.

The United States Hockey League Board of Governors concluded its 2017 Annual Winter Meeting, held in Sioux Falls, SD last week in conjunction with the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.  Later in the week, USHL representatives participated in the USA Hockey Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL. 


At both events, junior hockey leaders gathered to discuss and advance rules, policies and procedures for the 2017-18 season.  The most significant changes for 2017-18 impact the following areas:


  • Regular Season: The USHL Board of Governors agreed to reduce the length of the regular season from 28 weeks to 26 weeks, resulting in a start date of Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. Each USHL team will maintain a 60-game regular season schedule.
  • Clark Cup Playoffs: The USHL Board of Governors agreed to expand the number of qualifying playoff teams from eight to 12 with the top two seeds in each Conference receiving a first-round bye. The First Round will be a best-of-three series hosted by the #3 and #4 seeds in each conference versus the #5 and #6 seeds, respectively. The remaining rounds of the playoffs will be determined by best-of-five series and home-ice advantage going to the higher seed.
  • Regular Season Overtime: The USHL Board of Governors agreed to change the overtime rule for regular season play.  Overtime will be decided with a five-minute, three-on-three overtime period. Should the contest not be decided in overtime, a best-of-three shootout will commence.    
  • Canadian Imports: Applicable only to the Tier 1 USHL, the USA Hockey Board of Directors granted the USHL permission to roster up to two Canadian-born citizens as non-imports. Presently, each USHL team is allowed up to four (4) import roster positions on their 23-man rosters.  This rule change would allow USHL teams to carry a maximum of six (6) imports as long as the two extra import players are Canadian.


In addition, rule changes were approved for USHL play beginning in the 2018-19 season that impact the goaltender position:


  • Import Goalies: Any non-USA Hockey goaltender shall be counted against a USHL team’s import limit as two (2) imports. No team may have more than one (1) import (non-U.S. citizen) goaltender on their active roster of 23 players.
  • Over-age Player Limit: An overage goaltender shall NOT count toward a team’s over-age player limit. Currently USHL teams are allowed four (4) over-age players on an active roster.  (Note: The term “over-age player” refers to players who are 20 years old, in the case of the current 2016-17 season would be a 1996-born player.)


“The American development path that involves playing NCAA-eligible junior hockey continues to increase in awareness and popularity,” said Bob Fallen, USHL President and Commissioner. “This path is attracting top players from all over the world who come to the USHL hoping to test their abilities before advancing to college and professional hockey.  We constantly strive to expand opportunities for our players, coaches and officials and many of the rules changes help us to achieve our developmental objectives.”


As the only sanctioned Tier 1 junior hockey league in America, the USHL works closely with USA Hockey, the National Governing Body (NGB) of amateur hockey in America, on creating the highest possible competitive platform for US players.  “We work together to find solutions that allow our league to continue to attract high caliber players from all over the world while maintaining a primary focus on the American player,” said Fallen.



Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17.  30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts,  and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.

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