Virtual Hockey League: Introduction, League Rules, Team Structure

Virtual Hockey has some differences from what you might know about hockey in the Real Life.  Here you will learn about hockey in the Virtual Hockey League in Second Life.  We will not interpret the differences between real world hockey and Virtual Hockey League, but simply define the dynamics of VHL.

Section 1:

The Basics – An introduction:

The VHL uses a rectangular ice rink with rounded corners.  The rink is constructed to the same dimensions as a international sized rink and divided in the middle with a red line and referred to as the Center Line.   To the left and right of the center line are a set of Blue Lines that are called by the same name.  Each team plays from one side of the ice, and the area behind a team's blue line is called its defending zone. The area behind the opposing team's blue line is called the attacking zone. Finally, the area between the two blue lines is called the neutral zone.

At the end of the ice on both ends are a set goal posts with a netting between them and is referred to as the goal.   A red line called the goal line is painted between the two posts, and the puck must cross this line entirely for a goal to be counted.  A blue area is painted in front of the goal and is called the crease.


There are three basic kinds of players: forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders (goalies). Unless a team is shorthanded due to a penalty, each team will have five to six players on the ice during play. Two forwards line up at the front of the team. Two defensemen line up behind them, one on the left and one on the right. The goaltender normally plays inside of the goal crease. The forwards are responsible for most of the offense, and they tend to stay out front, while the defensemen are largely responsible for hanging back and making sure they are ready to protect the defensive zone by keeping the shooter from making a shot on goal. The goalie rarely strays far from his or her crease to block the shots on goal, but may skate out and pass pucks to the other players.  Goalies are prohibited from going over the center line, and will be penalized if they do so.

Each player holds a stick and the players use these sticks to pass and shoot a small black disk called a puck around the rink.

Each game consists of three periods. In the regular season, if the game is tied at the end of regulation time (the end of the third period), an additional period is played called overtime or OT for short.  The overtime in hockey is "sudden death" because if either team scores at any time, that scoring team automatically wins and the overtime period ends. If neither team scores by the end of overtime, the game is declared a tie.


During the playoffs, if the game is tied at the end of regulation time the game will go into a sudden death overtime period.  Should the teams still be tied at the end of a sudden death OT, another sudden death OT will occur.  Sudden death OT's will continue until a team scores.

The VHL currently consists of three teams. Additional teams may be added prior to the season start if there is an adequate number of active participants available.  Each team will play 20 games, equally divided among home and away and equally amongst the other teams.


The season is divided up into the regular season and the playoffs.  During the regular season, a team collects points based on its performance as follows: two points for a win in regulation or overtime, one point for losing a game in overtime, and zero points for a loss during regulation play.

At the end of the regular season, the second and thrid place teams will meet for a best of 5 series and the first to win three games will go on to meet the regular season first place team in the finals.  The first team to win four games in the best of seven series is the playoff winner and league champion.


To be eligible to play in the playoffs a player must have had 90 minutes of ice time (by playing for their team and playing as a substitute). The statistics page will have the ice time and refs should use that as the determining reference.


In each game there are one or two referees who make on-ice decisions regarding penalties, goals, start and stopping play, dropping pucks, and making sure that the game is run smoothly.  



Section 2

2.1 The Rules:

Rule number one: whichever team gets the most official goals wins.

2.2 Face-offs:  The red circle in center ice is the center ice face-off circle.  When play begins at the beginning of a period or after a stoppage in play, two players will face each other at the face-off circle and try to gain possession of the puck when the referee drops the puck. The capture is done by repeatedly pressing the C key and the one who does it quickest after the puck hits the ice surface.  Only two players may be within the face-off circle.  When the player wins the faceoff it is pulled back or shot backwards to a team mate that is positioned behind their own blue line.

2.2.2 Faceoffs may also occur at one of the end circles. The two players taking the faceoff shall line up at the red faceoff circle dot.  The defending players shall line up on the red goal line behind the faceoff circle or in front of the goaltender and the offensive players shall line up on edge of the faceoff circle.  Once the puck drops it will be captured like the center faceoff is, with the players using the capture key to win it.

2.3 Captains and Alternates: One player on each team is chosen by the team to be the captain, and when s/he's on the ice he is the only one who can discuss the rules with the officials.  He or she may not question the judgment of the referee, only the rule, and may not act belligerently or abusively to the ref at any time. The coach can also designate other players as alternate captains for times when the captain is not available to play.  Alternates may only talk to the referee when they are acting captain for the game. When neither captain nor alternates are at the game, the team may choose a representative to be the team captain for that game only. Captains for games must identify themselves prior to the start of the game.

2.4 Penalties:  The referees are the on ice judge of the rules and for determining if a penalty should be called. There are three different kinds of penalties: a minor penalty, for which a player must sit in the penalty box for one minute or until the penalized team is scored on, whichever comes first; a major penalty for three continuous minutes in the box no matter how many times the penalized team is scored on; and a game misconduct, which sends a player out for the whole game. In cases of extreme abuse, a league panel will review the incident and can hand out stiffer suspensions of several games and/or fine the player.

2.4.2 When one team has a player in the box due to a minor penalty, it must play "shorthanded" (with one less skater) until the penalty expires or the opposing team scores a goal. This situation is called a "power play" for the non-penalized team, and a "penalty kill" for the penalized team. If the penalty is a major penalty, the penalized team must kill the penalty for the entire three minutes, regardless of how many goals the opposing team scores. If a penalized team manages to score a goal while killing the penalty, it is called a shorthanded goal. A team can be shorthanded by up to two players at a time. If more than two of a team's players are penalized the team will continue to play with three players (but the penalized players must still serve their penalties before they can play). If a player from each team is assessed a minor or major penalty in the same incident, the penalties are called offsetting. The players from each team must sit in the penalty box for the entire penalty time but the teams continue to play at full strength.


The first faceoff after a minor or major penalty is called will take place in one of the end circles by the offending teams gaoltender. 

2.4.3 A game misconduct only results in the player being ejected from the game; the player's team is not shorthanded for the duration of the misconduct.

2.5 In The Crease:  The crease is the blue painted area in front of the goal, and it is the domain of the goaltender.  Under no circumstances may any player score while in the crease.   If a player attempts to score a goal while a teammate is in the opposition's crease then play will immediately stop and no goal allowed.  Players on the same team as the goaltender may not be in the crease for more than a few seconds and if they stay longer than that they may be assessed a minor.  In other words, camping out in the crease is not acceptable.  The first time a defender shoots from the crease to clear the puck play will stop and face-off go to center.  In subsequent times that happens the face-off will occur at one of the circles by the offending team's end.


2.5.2 Exception to the crease rule:  If the team does not have a goalie in net and the net is "minded" by a player using a forward/defenseman's stick, then the player may be hit or checked by the opposition inside the crease area without penalty.

2.6 Charging:  A charging penalty may be assessed whenever a faceoff player pushes an opposing faceoff player prior to the puck hitting the ice during a faceoff.  The offending player is tossed from the faceoff and another forward must take the face-off for the team.  If the new faceoff player on the same faceoff attempt charges then that player will be charged with a penalty.  Minor penalty.

2.8 Goaltender Interference: If the goaltender is in the crease and is interfered with by bodily contact from an opposition player then play is stopped and a faceoff will be taken at one of the circles by the offending team's end.  If the interference happens more than twice in a game the offending player may be penalized a minor penalty.

2.9 Abuse of Officials:  Players will not argue with game officials.  Only team captains may discuss the written rules with respect to the calls, an explanation of the rule or any other matters with officials that is not a question of judgement.  We expect that players and fans respect the ref's decisions.  The Second Life environment may cause one person to see a different version of an event than another. Our assumptions are that to the best of their ability, referees have made a call based on what they saw and how the rules are written.  Depending  on the severity of the situation the ref may call a minor, major, or game misconduct on any player, including the captain, if they are belligerent, abusive, vulgar, or profane with the reffing crew.  If this situation occurs, there will be an automatic review of the altercation by the league rules committee.  Additional consultation with the parties may happen and fines and suspensions may occur.  Referees are encouraged to keep a complete and accurate log of the conversations for league reference.

2.10 Unsportsmanlike Conduct:  If players between teams become abusive, vulgar or profane between each other then the ref may penalize those who are taking part in the action.  Minor, Major or Misconduct. Game misconducts will be automatically reviewed by the league and additional fines and suspensions given.

2.11 Freezing the Puck: A goaltender, when in possession of the puck, may hold onto the puck if there are players from the opposing team between the red end circle hash lines and the goaltender.  If the opposing players remain near the goaltender then the ref may stop the play, as the puck is considered "frozen".  The act of holding the puck to stop play is called "freezing" the puck. The ref will then call for a faceoff in one of the end circles by that goaltender.  The goaltender shall go into a squat position by holding C to indicate that they want to freeze it.

2.11.2 Goaltender Delay of Game: Should a goaltender be in possession of the puck during play while there are no opposing players between the red end circle hash lines and the goaltender then the goaltender will have 10 seconds to shoot or pass the puck.  If they exceed the 10 seconds the play will be stopped. The goaltender, if it appears to be done on purpose, may be charged with a delay-of-game penalty and penalized with a minor.  A forward or defense person that was on the ice during the call shall be designated by the team captain to serve the penalty time in place of the goaltender.  The faceoff shall take place in one of the end circles by the offending goaltender.

2.11.3 Delay of Game 1: Should a team fail to have their players on the ice and ready to play when the ref has signaled a ready for faceoff, the team may be charged with a delay of game minor.  Teams may switch players but do so in a timely way.

2.11.4 Upon the start of each period, and after a time out, the ref will give a call ask for a "good to go" or "gtg" or "ready" from the teams captains.

2.11.5 Games will start no later than 10 minutes past the stated game time.  Technical issues with players or problems with the grid will be allowable exceptions, and delay of game will be adjudicated by the referee.

2.11.6 Delay of Game 2: If a player intentionally shoots a puck out of the playing area and it appears to be done on purpose then the player will be assessed a delay-of-game minor.

2.11.7  Delay of Game 3: Any action reasonably deemed by the referee to be causing the game to be played by a players conduct can be assessed a minor penalty.  This may include but be limited to: not being ready for a faceoff in time, arguing a call after the ref has determined that play will go on or movement during faceoffs that prevent the ref from dropping the puck.


2.12 Too Many Players on the Ice:   Six players is the limit per team at any one time on the ice (including the goaltender).  One goaltender is the limit per team on the ice at any one time.  During play, a replacement player may come onto the ice only after the player on ice has returned to the team's bench area.  Players may also be replaced during play stoppages.  If there is more than the limit of players on the ice or more than one goaltender on ice for one team at any time during play, that team will be accessed a minor penalty and one of the players on ice at the time of the infractions shall be designated by the captain to serve the penalty.  Faceoff shall occur at center ice. 

2.13 No Flying/No Scripted Speed Manipulation: Players may not use fly during play.  This gives them an unfair advantage.  If the player with the puck is intentionally flying, or directly invloved in play (refs call) play shall stop and the player given a Minor.  A player may alter their avatar shape to increase their speed as allowed by the stick script which requires a minimum player height. Otherwise any other attachments or alterations to the stick that that may reduce the player's buoyancy, weight or provide additional speed are not part of the official script may result in a player being suspended from the league.  In additon their statistics may be excepted and/or their team being penalized up to and including wins being changed to losses in games where that player was participating.

2.14 Equipment Infractions: Official equipment vendors are located at the arena only and no other place in SL.   The official vendor boxes are owned by the league avatar, VHLAccounting Varriale.  Do not purchase from any other vendor since they are not authorized for official league play.  The vendors will may have practice uniforms and equipment (sticks, HUD's, pads, skates).

2.14.2 Skates may be modified to fit the avi, and HUD's may be streched or shrunk to fit the player's needs and screen size. Sticks  may be oriented so that the upper shaft touches the players hands and the blade must be above the ice surface.

2.14.3 Teams must get league approval of their uniforms prior to use. Each team shall have a dark and light jersey for home and away games so that teams playing can easily be distingushable on ice by the players and off ice by the ref.

2.14.4 It is illegal to use any non-league sticks or pads, skates or other equipment. A warning we be given at first. If the player does not change their equipment to be in compliance with league rules the player may be given a minor, a major or be ejected from the game.
It is illegal to modify any of the scripts in the equipment.  Punishment is a game misconduct and an automatic league review that may result in permanent suspension.

2.14.6  It is illegal to use any scripts or scripted objects during play that would give a player or his team an unfair advantage. Punishment is a major and automatic league review that may result in additional fines and suspensions.

T   Table 1:Penalty Categories

Type of Penalty

Amount of Time

Substitute Allowed?


One minute or until


penalized team is scored on


Three full minutes



 Remainder of Game


Penalty Shot

No time served


2.15 Technical Timeout:  The officials reserve the right to call a timeout for many reasons, most of which are SL unique.   An example is that an on-ice player may have lost connection during the game and  when play stops the ref may give the team and player time for him to come back on.  Or if the player rezzed back on the ice while the game was in progress.  There may be an occurrence of sim closure or extreme lag spike in which some players "freeze" while others move, the official should best discretion to determine if the play should stop and disallow a possible goal due to circumstances that are not hockey related.  All players should keep in mind that this could easily occur in your teams' favor or against your team.

2.16 Suspensions and Fines:

There will be a review committee that will meet to discuss any penalties that may result in a fine or suspension.  The meeting shall take place in a timely fashion and may or may not include the player that was penalized and/or the referee that handed out the penalty and/or any other relevant witness(es).  During the meeting the committee will discuss the situation, deliberate and come to a decision.  The committee's decision will be final and not up for any continued debate.  The committee meetings discussions will remain private.  Fines shall not be more than 2000 L and suspensions may range from one game to indefinite based on the severity of the infraction.

3.1 Subbing

3.1.1  Teams require a minimum of 4 players for a game, three of which must be team members who are already on the team roster.  The additional player can be a substitute, but only if the team only has three in attendance.  This sub must be on the ice and ready to play 10 minutes prior to the game start time.  Games will not be delayed because of it.


3.1.2  If a team cannot have three members of its roster in attendence to the game and get a 4th player to sub, they may be subject to forfeit.  If both teams cannot then the game may be rescheduled once.  If the rescheduled game cannot get enough players to the game, the game will be forfeited for both teams and no one will receive any points in the standings.

3.1.3  Teams may have a maximum of 6 players on the ice, and teams will play all games with even sides on the ice.  So games will be played with  4 vs 4 or 5 vs. 5, or 6 vs 6 depending on attendance.  If players have to sit out to make sure teams are equal on the ice those players shall start the second period and given at least six minutes of ice time.


3.1.4  Any players used as subs may only be used as defensive ones but not as goaltenders. The sub may use a forward stick or defensive stick only and must use the same team stick for which team you are subbing for.  The choice of offensive or defensive stick is soley up to the player who is subbing...the team that he or she is subbing for has no say in the matter.  The sub may go as far as the center ice red line but no further during play.


3.1.5  If at the start of a game or at any time during a game, should a rostered player from one team that is playing be assigned to or play for the opposition team then the  game shall be considered a non-regulation game and shall not count in the standings.  The game will be considered a scrimmage.


3.2 Blue line shots on goal: Goals resulting from shots taken outside of the blue line closest to the goal shall not count.  This is because of the possibility of the goaltender not being able to see the puck shot outside the limits of view.  This is a Second Life problem caused by draw distance limitations.


3.3 Play stoppage/Puck Issues

Play may be stopped by the ref for the following reasons:

3.3.1 More than one puck on the ice during play.  Faceoff will take place at center ice.

3.3.2 The puck goes through the wall or through the ice and out of play.  Faceoff will take place at a circle nearest the spot where the puck went out of play.


3.3.3 Sub goes past center ice.  Faceoff at center ice.


3.3.4  A penalty occurs in which a player receives a minor/major/misconduct.


3.3.5 Icing the puck.  Faceoff is at the end opposite to where the puck was iced.


3.3.6 Offsides.  Faceoff is as at the end opposite to where the offsides occurred.


3.3.7 A person or player coming onto the ice area who is not a member of the teams playing or who is not a referee for that game. When the referee sees them, s/he should stop play immediately.  A goal will be waived off if it happens while the non player is on the ice and if the referee felt that their presence interfered with play.  The non player shall be warned and if they enter the play area again be ejected from the sim.  Faceoff at center ice

3.3.8 A griefer or fan causing a disturbance that affects the game.  Faceoff at center ice.

3.3.9 Sim performance that causes the game to be unplayable.  Resume the game if the performance returns to an acceptable level.  If the performance does not return to an acceptable playing level, the ref may postpone the game.  The ref may consult the league commissioner to help in the determination of the level of performance.  Faceoff is at center ice when resumed.


3.4 Play NOT causing a stop


3.4.1  Play shall NOT stop if a player crashes.


3.4.2 Play shall NOT stop if a player without the puck goes out of play but play shall stop if they leave the ice surface with possession of the puck.


3.5 Time Outs:

Time Outs may be called by a team captain or assistant captain only and the timeout lasts a maximum of 2 minutes.  There will be only 2 time-outs per team per period, and the timeouts can be used only when there is a stop in play (clock not running).  Faceoffs will be at center ice after time-in.  Some of the following are valid reasons for a timeout:

3.5.1 A team member has crashed or become permanently immobile.


3.5.2 To switch players on ice.

3.5.3 To take care of team personal issues.

3.5.4 Teams are expected to have a replacement goaltender ready.  If a goalie crashes, the captain may call time and then the other goalie ready to take the other's place.  In cases where there are only 5 team members available, a short amount of time will be given for one of the other players to take over goaltending.

Note:  Revisions may be made to this document during the season if necessary.  Reasons for this may include (but not be limited to) a rule that is unclear, a rule that did not take into consideration a certain situation, or a missing rule.  Notice will be given when the rulebook is updated and new rules will not be in force until 24 hours after the update is published.

Last Updated 10/23/2013

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