We are a Niagara based adult beginner hockey league. GHL Niagara. We are the original and best co-ed beginner hockey league. We have beginner players from all over the Niagara region, inscluding: St. Catharines, NOTL, Thorold, Virgil, Welland and Pelham.

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GHL rules are designed to ensure the safety of all our participants.  Although we do our best so stick to NHL style rules, we do have a few exceptions that are important to note.

All rules listed below apply to Major and Minor divisions. Remember, we all have to get up for work in the morning.

The rules are intended to promote the spirit of the GHL; a fair, fun, attitude-free hockey experience. Our rules are also designed to remind players that they must remain in control as they learn to skate and play hockey.

All players and GHL personnel are responsible for knowing these rules. 



Penalties will be enforced with two possible outcomes. Referees, at their discretion will make this decision.

  1. The offence does not result in a power play. The face-off will take place in the offending team’s zone. This will typically be used for minor infractions such as non-contact high sticking, delay of game and minor crease violations. In this scenario the offending player does not go to the box.

Scenario: Nick from the Red Wings skates through the crease in the Bruins zone, the whistle is blown. Nick does not have to go to the penalty box but the face-off takes place in the Red Wings zone. Nick should be careful though, he's been warned to stay out of the crease. If he keeps doing it, he might get a real 2 minute penalty.

  1. The penalty results in a power play. The Offending player goes to the penalty box. This will typically be used for major infractions such as contact high sticking, goalie interference and tripping. (2 Minutes starts when the puck drops). You do not have to wait until the next whistle to come out of the box.

Scenario: Nick from the Red Wings trips a Bruins player, the whistle is blown. Nick goes to the penalty box and the face-off takes place in the Red Wings zone. Nick's 2 minute penalty starts when the puck is dropped. After 2 minutes, Nick can leave the box. 


Referees, at their discretion may call penalties for any reason they see fit. For example, If you’ve been warned to stay out of the crease and you insist on camping out there, you will be get a penalty. 

Double Minor (4 minutes), Major penalties (5 minutes) or game misconducts may be enforced if a play is deemed intentional or violent.

Being belligerent or rude to referees will result in a 2 -or- 5 minute penalty. Any additional infraction after a 5 minute penalty will result in the player’s ejection from the game.

A player with 3 penalties of any kind will be ejected from the game. Referees can also eject a player at any time if they see fit.

If you are being unsportsmanlike on the ice or the bench, your coach may eject you from the game.

Any player who is consistently receiving penalties may be suspended or even expelled from the league. 

If you have any issues with the reffing, please go to your coach. Our referees are volunteers and only a few of them are fully certified. They are here to help the league and we will not tolerate people giving them a hard time. There are questionable calls in every league, NHL included so just accept it as part of the game if there is a call you don’t agree with.



  • Our league will not tolerate body contact. Even if a player is not knocked over, we may call body contact.
  • If you are found to be playing while intoxicated to the point of putting other players at risk, you may be suspended or expelled from the league.
  • Not wearing an approved helmet, while on the ice
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct Including (Applies to Players, Coaches and GMs)
  • Foul Language
  • Smacking stick in frustration
  • "Trash talking" officials or players
  • Yelling at / Excessively questioning the official
  • Slamming the bench/penalty box doors
  • Any other behavior deemed unacceptable by the officials
  • Interference
  • Goaltender interference 
  • Holding
  • Covering the puck / Closing hand on the puck
  • Failure to return to your bench when instructed by an official
  • Too many players on the ice
  • Calling a timeout when one is not available to you
  • Body Contact (accidental contact, checking, boarding, hitting from behind)  
  • Diving (which includes blocking a shot - sliding or going down on one or two knees - or intentionally falling)  
  • Slue footing
  • Tripping
  • Skating in opposing goalie's crease (this includes skating across the crease)  
  • Raising stick above your waist to play a puck
  • Slap shot (blade above the knee)



In the interest of keeping the game moving, referees will waive off some icing calls.

Fighting will not be tolerated - players involved on or off the ice may be expelled from the league and the police notified. This is a safe and fun hockey league that will not allow fighting. Players threatening to fight may also be banned from the league.
Players will be given an automatic game misconduct upon receiving a total of 6 minutes worth of penalties in a single game. (Excluding the 5 minute penalty for being rude to referees)
You must be in control at all times. Failure to remain in control can result in a penalty at the Referee's discretion. Do everything possible to skate within your ability and not to crash into people, the net or the boards.
If a player becomes injured on the ice, all players are to go to their bench to allow the officials and management to take care of the situation.

No-touch icing is in effect. This means that if a player is on their half of center ice and shoots the puck across the goal line (and not into the net), the whistle will blow for icing. Referees have the option of calling off the icing call at their discretion. 

If a penalty shot is awarded, whoever the infraction was against should take the penalty shot unless both GMs agree on a substitute. The referee will monitor this process



Remember to review the list of equipment that is mandatory to wear during all GHL Games. Players will not be permitted to play until they are wearing all equipment (in particular a neck guard). A ​CSA approved helmet with face shield must be worn whenever on the ice (pre and post game).


If a goalie gets a penalty, it must be served by someone from the goalies' team that was on the ice when the infraction took place. 

  • Goalies can skate to the two closest hash marks and back behind the red line.
  • Goalies can now skate up to the hash marks. If a goalie leaves their crease, they are called for penalties just like any other player.
  • Goalies can go behind goal line and make a forward pass; however, any incidental contact will result in a goalie penalty.


Any time the puck hits a player's helmet or a goalies' mask, the play will be whistled down and a faceoff will take place.


Assists will be credited as 2 points and goals credited as a single point.
No player can score more than 3 goals in any one game. Any goal scored by a player after the player has tallied 3 goals will not be counted for the team score or personal stats. 



A team may only call one 30 second timeout per game. A referee may call a timeout at any time. 


All GHL games are running time. When the game begins, the only time the clock will stop is at the referee's discretion. 

Only “on-the-fly” line changes can be done within the last minute of the third period.


The game will be stop-time for the last minute of the game if it’s a 1 goal game or less.

Trades may be done for a variety of reasons, but mostly to create balance in the league. Players may be traded by franchises at the discretion of the franchise's GM and upon approval of the League Executive. Players involved will be consulted before the news is revealed to the league.


Major Division

  • May call up if less than 10 players; can only call up to make 10
  • First call from team's minor franchise. If no one available then can call from any minor franchise
  • Call ups may only be minors and must be rotated through the minor team
  • If a player has been called to play and another player shows up late, both players may finish the game 

Minor Division

  • Can call over if less than 10 players; can only call over to make 10 
  • Call over players from another minor team must be of equal caliber or less (each player will rated)
  • If a player has been called to play and another player shows up late, both players may finish the game 

Our referees have the right and the responsibility to make judgments. They may consult with any linesmen available, but will make the call they see fit in the interest of player safety. Our referees wish to make your experience positive, fun and safe. Treat them with respect and courtesy.
In the matter of safety, the league reserves the right to change the rules at any given time throughout the year without notice, however, the league will attempt to provide notice of rule changes in a timely manner. All game misconducts are reviewed by the GHL commissioner and referees involved for further discipline hearings.
Note: NO refunds will be given to players who are suspended or dismissed from the league due to continued rule violations. A single offense of the rules, depending on the severity of the infraction may result in being dismissed from the league.

All scheduled games are subject to arena ice availability. In some cases, due to mechanical difficulties or administrative error, facilities are forced to cancel bookings with the GHL. The league reserves the right to reschedule any affected games to the best available booking at the time of cancellation. Following any schedule change, players will be notified as soon as possible.