Most of the rules for ball hockey are exactly the same as they are for ice hockey for minors. The basic game is played the same way, with the following exceptions:
The "Floating Blue Line" Offside
In ball hockey, once the ball has entered the attacking zone onside (that is, it crosses the blue line before any players have entered the zone), the attacking zone expands to half the playing surface. That means once the team is onside, the defending team will have to get the ball over the red line (centre-floor) in order to clear the zone. This increase helps game flow by keeping play in the attacking zone where it would otherwise be too easy to clear the ball out of the zone, in contrast to a puck which is less easy to move out of the zone quickly
In ball hockey, because of the increased incidents of the ball rising off the floor, great precaution has to be taken with sticks. In Ball Hockey, all stick infractions (high-sticking, slashing, cross-checking) carry with a double minor penalty, and the act of high-sticking the ball (touching the ball with your stick above your shoulders) carries a 2 min penalty as opposed to a simple stoppage of play. See more on penalties below.
Learn to Play
At the Learn to Play level Age 3 - 6), we divide the floor in half and play 4 on 4 hockey. The children play 2:00 shifts which is sounded by the arena horn. This play is less organized - there are no offsides, and face-offs only take place at centre-ice after the shift is over. On a goal or a whistle, we ask the teams to separate and allow the play to continue by giving the ball to one team, usually in the corner.
At this level, we have a coach on the floor to assist the referee with the children and guide them in their play
Under 8 (Tyke)
At this level, the game takes place on the entire playing surface. Shifts are set at 2:00, sounded by the arena horn, with two 14 minute periods constituting a game. Many of the kids at Tyke level are still learning to play with offsides, but they are enforced. Faceoffs are taken for stoppages at the appropriate face-off dot. Coaches are not allowed on the playing surface during play.
Under 10 (Novice) and up
At Novice and up, the kids change "on the fly" with two 15 minute periods. All penalties are served as normal.
The SMBHL does not allow "slap-shots" for kids in the Learn to Play and Under 8 (Tyke)
At all levels, the SMBHL is a non-contact league. In fact, all ball hockey is a non-contact league. It is much less of a problem on feet than it is on skates.
Learn to Play and Under 8 (Tyke)
In the SMBHL, as a house league, we generally end up having to call very few penalties on kids for infractions. In some cases, we will not send a child to the penalty box for a simple infraction (like for example an accidental tripping call in a neutral-zone scrum) but if the penalty is considered either intentional or it results in the loss of a certain scoring opportunity, the offended team will be awarded a penalty shot to be taken by the offended player, or a player on the floor on that team in the case where the offended player is unable to take the shot. (We strongly encourage the offended player to take the shot)
Under 10 (Novice) & up
All penalties are served as normal.