On December 10th, 2015 the National Women’s Hockey League announced a rule change for the 2015-16 season.
At the start of the inaugural season bench doors could be opened for line changes during play. However, after reviewing Zoe Hickel’s (Boston Pride) hit on Taylor Holze (New York Riveters) during the New York Riveters vs Boston Pride game on December 6 the league felt it necessary to amend the rule.
The new rule states all bench doors must be closed during action. If the door is left open a bench penalty will be assessed to the offending team.
There are three exceptions to the rule.
- If there is an injured player in the process of leaving the ice the door can be opened.
- If a goaltender is in the process of being pulled
- Between whistles and periods
The play was initially reviewed because Hickel boarded Holze into the area around the bench door. The hit ended up being much worse because Holze hit the bench doorway while the door was closing. Hickel didn’t receive any supplemental penalties.
This is the first rule changed made in the history of the league. As the league matures it is likely more rules will be amended, added, or taken away.