League Rules & Regulations

The WDHL abides by USA Hockey Rules and also the league has adopted its own Rules and Regulations amended as required by the League Commissioner.

These are intended to reinforce the purpose of our League as competitive yet social in nature.  Prospective and returning members are expected to know the rules, in particular, the Game Rules, Penalties, and Fines.

Note that in some instances, for example an intent to injure/match penalty, an indefinite suspension is the result.  There is provision for review however reinstatement is not a given.

Amended by League Commissioner, May 2022.


The West Denver Hockey League is a continuation, with some changes, of the Southwest Denver Oldtimers Hockey League (SDOHL) that was formed in 2008 by John Ling. The WDHL, as did the SDOHL, operates as a non-profit entity to provide a recreational hockey experience for older adult hockey players based on age criteria rather than skill level. The League is dedicated to providing a competitive, yet social experience. The League is open to both male and female players.

Players join as individual League members as opposed to being a part of a team. Teams are then selected from League members via a draft selection prior to each winter or summer season. This provides networking opportunities and for new members, a chance to join a League where everyone can get to know one another.


A. Age Requirements

WDHL age criteria restricts membership to players 35 years or older for goaltenders and female players, 40 years or older for all others. The player must attain the specific age on or before the date of the last game of the season in which the player participates. (Exceptions may occur on a case-by-case basis with the consensus of the Commissioner and Captains Committee.)

B. Player Membership and Registration

Members of the WDHL must be hockey players participating in the league; there are no non-playing members. Player registration is done on a per player basis. Player registration deadlines and procedures for each session are available on the League web site, www.WestDenHL.com.

C. League Draft

Prior to each season the League registers players. The Draft Committee rates each player by ability as best as possible, and then organizes the player in a draft to select teams. The objective is to achieve comparative parity among the teams while also providing League members an opportunity to meet and play with other members.

D. Player Adds

Players registering after the League Draft deadline will be temporarily assigned to a team in accordance with the draft order established in the draft. The League Committee will meet after three or four weeks of play to determine whether player movement is necessary to balance the teams. After this process is complete, the rosters will be set for the rest of the season. Future player additions may occur based on a League member being unable to continue playing for whatever reason, efforts will be made to ensure the replacement player is of similar ability rating.

E. Playing Ability

The League generally accepts players of all talent levels with the notable exception of goalies. With respect to goalies, the League reserves the right to declare a goalie ineligible if they are either sufficiently lower or higher than the playing ability of the other goalies in the League as to imbalance the competition within the League. The League also reserves the right to declare any player ineligible for League membership if, in the opinion of the League Commissioner, the player either endangers themselves or others due to the lack of ability.

F. Playing Fees

All playing fees are paid individually and due in advance of each session. The league fee amount will vary based on the length of the season; see registration information on our web site, www.westdenhl.com. Currently, the policy of the League is to waive playing fees for goalies based on participation in League pre-season drop-in skates.

G. Fee Refunds

All playing and League fees are non-refundable. However, in the event of a League member who is injured, or has life event changes which will prevent future play, the League will work to find a replacement and refund monies paid by the replacement to the League member affected.

H. USA Hockey Registration is no longer required.

I. Jerseys

The WDHL provides player jerseys. Players are responsible for their jersey. Should the jersey be lost or returned in an unsuitable condition the league reserves the right to charge a replacement fee.

J. Equipment

Full hockey equipment is required. A player’s helmet must be HECC certified. Face masks or half shields are optional but encouraged. Any facemask that has been altered in any way is not allowed to be worn.


A. League Division(s)

The WDHL will operate in one or multiple arenas in one or more leagues or divisions. Interleague play will exist where it makes sense. Leagues or divisions will be identified separately, for example, ‘WDHL Foothills Over 40 Draft League’

B. Team Requirements and Substitutes

Each team must carry a minimum of 13 players, including a goalie, to a maximum of 16 players. The League maintains a contact list of substitute skaters and goalies each Team Captain may use should a regular player be unable to play.

Team Captains may also use other League members as substitutes should their team have fewer than 10 forwards and defensemen for a scheduled game.

C. Use of Ineligible Player and Game Forfeiture

A player is considered ineligible if he/she is not a League member or does not meet the age criteria for membership, are currently suspended from play due to misconduct or non-payment of monies owing the League, or is not on our League substitute list. Additionally, any player may be considered ineligible if he/she is substituting for a player of lesser rating. For example, a 6-rated or 5-rated player is ineligible to sub for a 4 or 3 rated player. However, a 4 or 3 rated player can sub for a higher (6 or 5) rated player. During the regular season, this policy is relaxed only if there are fewer than ten forwards available for a game and will be subject to League review.

During the playoffs, teams may not use substitute skaters unless they have fewer than 10 skaters available. In that event, the regular season rating rule must be followed. Goalies may be substituted if the team’s roster goalie is unavailable. Captains are encouraged to use a sub goalie who’s rating/ability matches the rostered goalie. Captain’s using a sub goalie in the playoffs must inform the opposing captain(s) and the league of this.

Playoff sub rule clarified on Weds., July 27, 2022

The use of an ineligible player will result in the forfeiture of the game by the team that used an ineligible player. Any team that is unable to produce six players to start the game, or the appropriate number of players at any time during the game will be forced to forfeit.

D. Team Captain

The WDHL selects Team Captains in advance of the league draft. Each Team Captain becomes a member of the Captain’s Committee and the Draft Committee which is chaired by the League Commissioner. The Captain’s Committee provides a forum for the Team Captains to represent their players on hockey matters pertaining to the running of the League. The Team Captain’s on ice role is primarily team organization and leadership. The Draft Committee oversees rating of players, format of the draft and execution of the draft each season to form teams for the league.

Team Captains are to exemplify sportsmanship and ensure their team adheres to the WDHL Rules and Regulations.


A. Game Schedules

The WDHL will publish game schedules for each League or Division as part of each session’s registration information. Full schedule(s) will be posted on our website, www.WestDenHL.com.

B. Game Timing

Each game will consist of three 15 minute periods stop time unless at any point in the third period, one team leads by five goals when the game will revert to running time. If the losing team scores to cut the differential to four, then stop time will commence again until the end of the period or the differential is five or more goals.

C. Overtime

In the regular season, if, after three periods of play the game is tied, a best of three player shootout will take place. If the game is still tied after the shootout has been completed, the shootout will continue in a sudden death format where additional rounds will be taken one player at a time until one team scores and the other does not. The team winning the shootout is given two points for an overtime win, the losing team is given one point for an overtime loss.

In the playoffs, a five-minute overtime period, stop time, will be played in a sudden death format; the first team scoring wins regardless of time remaining. If the game is still tied, a best of five player shootout will take place. If the game is still tied after the five player shootout, the shootout will continue in a sudden death format where additional rounds will be taken one player at a time until one team scores and the other does not.

Once a team has used a player as shooter in the overtime, regular season or in the playoffs, that player is not eligible to shoot again until all eligible team members in the game (goalie excepted) have had an opportunity to shoot. A team member serving a penalty at the end of regulation time is ineligible to shoot. If a team uses an ineligible player as a shooter, the game is forfeited and the overtime win awarded to the opposing team.

Updated Weds., July 27, 2022. Changed the overtime format from four players and a goalie per side to fives skater and goalie.

D. Standings

Teams will receive three points for a regulation time win, two points for an overtime/shootout win, and one point an overtime/shootout loss. If for any reason an overtime shootout cannot be completed each team will be awarded one point for a tie. Playoff formats vary depending on the season, number of teams in the League, and availability of ice time. Each playoff format will be reviewed by the League Committee and information posted on our web site.


A. USA Hockey Rules

WDHL adheres to USA Hockey Rules for Adult Hockey. See USA Official Rule for Ice Hockey for complete rules.

B. Icing and Offside

The League will play blue line icing and there will be an automatic whistle on all icings. The League will play tag up offside (delayed offside). On a delayed offside situation, all of the attacking players must be clear of the zone prior to any player returning to the end zone. If the attacking team does not clear the zone, the on-ice official may call intentional offside on that team.

C. Three Penalty Rule

When any player receives three penalties at any time during a game, that player will be ejected for the remainder of the game and another player will serve the third penalty. No fine or suspension will follow however the League Commissioner reserves the right to impose either or expel a player with repeated offenses.

D. Fines and Suspensions

All players that receive major penalties and misconduct penalties will be subject to suspension and fines either as detailed below or in accordance with USA Hockey Rules. Each incident will be reviewed by the League Commissioner who will make the final decision on behalf of the WDHL. The WDHL emphasizes sportsmanship and while it encourages competitive play, wants on ice incidences minimized in keeping with the recreational and social context of the League.

All fines must be paid to the League prior to the suspended player’s “Eligible to return date.” If applicable, any un-served game misconducts and or unpaid fines will be carried over to the following season. Indefinite suspensions will be reviewed by the League Commissioner and may result in a reinstatement or in cancellation of League membership. All suspended players are considered ineligible until their “Eligible to return date” has been set.

  • Match Penalty: Ejection for reminder of the game, intent to injure and/or fighting.
    • 1st Offense: Indefinite suspension of playing privileges subject to League. Commissioner’s review before reinstatement.
  • Game Misconduct: Ejection for remainder of the game and the next scheduled game.

E. Three Goal Rule

Any individual player will be limited to scoring three goals during regulation time of a regular season or playoff game. If a player scores a fourth goal, that goal will not count and a face-off will occur in the player’s team’s defensive zone. Penalty shots taken and scored will count toward the player’s maximum goals allowed.

If the game moves to a shootout, players who’ve reached the three goal limit will be eligible to participate in the shootout. If the game goes to overtime, the player will be allowed to score during the OT period. There is no limit on assists.

(Rule added: May 13, 2022 per unanimous consent of the Captains’ Committee.)