Fair Ice Policy

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Northwest Warriors Mission Statement & Priorities
Northwest Warriors exists to provide a hockey program where participants develop a strong sense of community while growing socially, physically, intellectually, ethically, and emotionally.

This mission is achieved by working towards individual and team successes in a safe, fair, stimulating, and respectful environment while observing a suitable balance of the following priorities.

The Participant – Provide individuals with coaching and experiences that allow them to develop personally.
The Team – Foster commitment to a group through opportunities for working and achieving together.
The Game of Hockey – Teach and develop the abilities necessary to participate and succeed in playing hockey.


The purpose of the policy is to establish clarity for ice time distribution and provide understanding regarding the objectives, directives, and circumstances with NW Warriors Hockey regarding ice allotment and time on ice.

The document provides explanation and interpretation regarding some scenarios. The application of these guidelines is the responsibility various individuals, including but not limited to the Program Group, coaches, managers and the administrator. The policy is should not be deemed as a tool used by parents/players to scrutinize the number and length of every shift or opportunity. As explained within, there are a number of factors that can impact ice time and it is important to know what those are to ensure the policy is properly understood and how it may be applied.

Fair Ice Allocation

All Northwest Warriors (NWW) teams will be provided with an equal amount of seeding games, league games and practice ice times based on the program and age group. It is not possible to guarantee a specific ratio of full to shared practice ice.

Schedule Timing

Teams are provided with practice ice from NW Warriors Hockey three times during the season.

Post-New Year’s

Ice Distribution

NWW has established targets for game to practice ratios for each age group. The number of practices depends on the number of seeding and league games. Some of the factors that impact the ratio are Hockey Calgary game length, and suitability of shared ice vs full ice for practices.

Turning Back Ice

In the event a team cannot make use of a practice time provided by NW Warriors Hockey, the team can return the ice to NW Warriors Hockey provided the team does so within five days of receiving the practice schedule but no less than seventy-two hours prior to the ice time. In order to maintain the intended game to practice ratios, NW Warriors Hockey will replace duly returned practice ice with another ice time sometime prior to the end of the season.

Trading Ice

NWW teams are permitted to make arrangements between each other to trade or share ice provided by NW Warriors Hockey. Such arrangements must be communicated back to NW Warriors Hockey and to the appropriate arena so that proper re-assignment can occur. Teams cannot sell ice provided by NW Warriors, if a team cannot use an ice time provided it can be turned back to NW Warriors Hockey or traded to another NWW Team.

Unused Ice

NW Warriors Hockey will only pay for ice provided to a team when that ice is used by a NWW team. In the event that an ice time provided to a NWW team goes unused, the team to whom the ice was assigned will be charged the cost of the ice as a penalty.

Fair Ice for Participants

For participants, Fair Ice in its simplest terms could be stated as equal ice time and equal opportunity (based on the number of games attended). To provide more context, coaches must strive to ensure all players receive the same amount of playing time in any game and are given equal opportunity to play in all game situations. Coaches must strive to ensure practices provide each player with equal time to learn and develop and that all practices are planned and carried out for the members of the team for whom the practice was scheduled. When affiliates are needed for games or practices, equal opportunity is to be provided to all affiliates to participate in games and practices.

The guidelines are applied differently depending on the age group.

  • For (Tyke, Novice & Atom) age groups where there are no designated skater positions, the Fair Ice Guidelines and Policies are to be applied to all skaters equally.
  • For (Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget & Junior) age groups with designated skater positions, the Fair Ice Guidelines and Policies are applied to skaters based on designated position.

All players on a team have the right to the same amount of playing time and further to that equal opportunity to play in game situations, such as power play, penalty kill, late-game scenarios, etc. NWW considers Fair Ice a core component of the player’s experience and a team approach. Regardless of individual skill level, all players are part of the team and as such should be provided an equal opportunity to develop and contribute to the success of the team.

Specific Game Play Scenarios:

With respect to equal ice time, attempts may be made to provide equal ice time within a single game environment however this is not always achievable. Assessing the distribution of ice time may require consideration over a period of multiple games.

With respect to equal opportunity in certain game situations, even if it were possible to provide every situational opportunity in every game, it would be extremely difficult for the coach to plan for and would provide little to no benefit to the player developmentally. Managing the distribution of opportunities will require consideration over a period of multiple games.

7, 8 or 10 Forwards: When a team has a number of forwards that does not allow for exactly two or three lines it is the accepted coaching strategy, in the interest of equal ice time, to alternate rotation of centers, left wingers and right wingers between periods. Another way to say it is different players should be involved in the “odd” rotations each period to try and equalize the ice time between the forwards as much as possible. Coaches may also manage roster sizes in excess of 9 forwards by equally rotating players in and out of the playing roster over multiple games.

5 or 7 Defenders: When a team has a number of defensive players that does not allow for exactly two or three pairings it is the accepted coaching strategy, in the interest of equal ice time, to either use a rotation through all defenders or to rotate a single player through the other pairings. Coaches may also manage roster sizes in excess of 6 defense by equally rotating players in and out of the playing roster over multiple games.

Special Teams: All players should have the equal opportunity for play during power plays, penalty kills, or 6 skater scenarios. NW Warriors Hockey recognizes that it is not possible to facilitate these situations equally in just one game and therefore we encourage coaches to utilize a Special Teams Log to ensure players are getting equal opportunities in these situations.

In the event a coach intends to create special teams units, the coach is expected to utilize a Special Teams Log. The log should include a listing of the designated units for each game, units could be changed every game or maintained for a few games in a row, but will need to be changed enough to allow for equal rotation throughout the season. The coach will maintain this log for the season and be prepared to show it to NW Warriors Hockey or Hockey Calgary should it be requested.

Coaches choosing not to maintain a Special Teams Log should not utilize a separate power play or penalty killing units for games, the power play or penalty killing lines should simply be the next line in the regular rotation.

Specific Practice Scenarios:

Practice participants: Practices scheduled for a team whether provided by NW Warriors Hockey or purchased by the team are provided for the rostered players. Only rostered players (which includes affiliates) are permitted to participate in regular practices and games. This is important for player development, fairness, and safety. When including affiliates, equal opportunity is to be provided by rotating affiliate participants for games and practices.

Practice guests shall be limited to guest coaches or mentors. These guests can be involved for teaching, assisting and development of team members. Guests should never result in reduced opportunities, repetitions or time for team members.

Fair Ice & Discipline

There are no acceptable reasons for coaches to deviate from the Fair Ice policy. However, the Fair Ice policy does allow for scenarios where ice time is withheld for disciplinary reasons or as a consequence for failure to fulfill a known and reasonable expectation. In the event a coach withholds ice time for either of these situations, the coach must communicate expectations and consequences to the participants and parents in advance and must apply these consistently with all players on the team.

A player’s ice time can be reduced for disciplinary reasons but the coach is expected to report to NW Warriors Hockey (or Hockey Calgary) regarding such situations. It is therefore recommended that the coach document such situations; this can be done simply as a note on the team’s copy of the game sheet or as a note in a notebook, log, etc.

Possible Discipline Scenarios for withholding ice time:

  • Penalties not called by the referee.
  • Recurring penalties
  • Penalties regarding respect of referee or opponents (e.g., unsportsmanlike, roughing after the play, etc.) may require additional time beyond game penalty.
  • Disrespectful behaviour towards a teammate, team personnel, game officials, fans, or facilities.
  • Whatever the penalty, it must be applied consistently. A recommended approach is to create penalty time that is consistent with a similar scenario for infractions called during a game. For example, if a player were disrespectful to the referee he would miss 2 or 10 minutes of playing time, disrespect to a team member might match that. In the event of repeated behaviour the player may be assessed a longer penalty like the remainder of the game or multiple games. If a coach is looking for assistance in establishing consequences for situations whether before the season begins or upon a situation arising, please contact the Coach Director for assistance/guidance.

Additional Scenarios

How is the Fair Ice policy applied in game situations that affect ice time?

There will be instances during games where ice time can end up being different amongst players and a coach will need to manage the bench to address these situations to in order to adhere to the Fair Ice policy. Some such scenarios are:

In games with numerous penalties, line rotations can sometimes be difficult to organize or maintain, and cause circumstances where players end-up with more, or less, playing time.
Players (and in some cases complete lines) can sometimes get ‘stuck out’ on their shift.
Players (and in some cases complete lines) will sometimes stay out longer than they should.
What is Fair Ice for affiliates?

Teams are encouraged to bring up affiliated goalies in order to ensure the team has a backup goalie for each game. However, the affiliate goalie is not guaranteed equal ice time on the team s/he is affiliating to. At no time would the regular team goalie receive less game time than what the regular rotation would have provided.

If a team chooses to bring up affiliate skaters do not bring up so many defencemen that would provide a contingent greater than six for each game or so many forwards that would provide a contingent greater than nine forwards for each game.

Teams must recognize Hockey Calgary rules restricting the number of affiliations and not increase the team size to greater than the allowable team roster size.

What are situations that lead to less than equal ice time?

There is some common misconception that the coach has the discretion to manage his/her bench based on the game situation. In order to comply with Hockey Calgary’s Fair Play Code for Coaches and this Policy, the coaches are responsible for managing the bench for the entire game of every game with equal ice time in mind. Acknowledging that ice time can vary amongst players for the reasons that the coach can’t control, the following are examples of situations the coach does manage where s/he is not allowed to purposely reduce (or increase) ice time for certain participants in any game.

  • If the team is in a close game trying to gain or hold the lead.
  • If the team is on a power-play, penalty kill or using 6 skaters.
  • If the game is in overtime.
  • If a player misses practices, games or team events.
  • If a player arrives late to a game or forgets a piece of equipment.
  • If a player appears disengaged in the game.
  • If a player makes a mistake in the game.

What can happen to a coach that persistently violates the Fair Ice policy?

If discussions occur with a coach regarding concerns over Fair Ice and the coach persists to violate this policy, NW Warriors Hockey is empowered to suspend a coach for not providing Fair Ice time. When this occurs, the Game and Conduct Group will conduct a hearing, and if need be, render a decision on the disciplinary recommendation which could involve an extended period of suspension.

NWW adopts the same rules as found in Hockey Calgary; the Fair Play Coaches Policy requires that all coaches provide players with equal ice time.

As per Hockey Calgary rules:

Coaches found not to be compliant with this Policy will receive a warning for the first offense.
Coaches found not to be compliant on a second occasion will receive a one-game suspension.
Coaches found not to be compliant on a third occasion will receive a three-game suspension.
Coaches found not to be compliant on a fourth occasion do not share the core values of the Northwest Warriors or of Hockey Calgary and will receive an indefinite suspension from coaching minor hockey in Calgary until a hearing has determined otherwise.
What to do if you have concerns regarding ice time?

First and foremost, take the time to determine if your concerns are warranted – always allow a minimum of 24 hours to pass before taking any action. Ask yourself if the ice time may have varied beyond the control of the coach – consider the examples listed earlier as a guide. If you still have concerns, ask to speak to the coach.

NWW is very fortunate to have a number of dedicated and skilled coaches that openly welcome and encourage questions and/or the opportunity to discuss concerns. The coaches are very busy during a game, and it may simply be the case that they were unaware there were inequalities in ice time. The coach deserves an opportunity to discuss and explain in a mutually respectable manner – and an opportunity to address and correct in the future if an inequality indeed exists.

If you are not satisfied after discussions with the coach, the next stage in the communication protocol is to contact an Association Director. The Director will ensure the appropriate people are brought into the situation for subsequent communications and meetings. Hockey Calgary considers these matters the responsibility of the community hockey organization, as such addressing such matters is handled within Northwest Warriors.