Rules of Ice Hockey | How it is Played?

Ice Hockey is a very famous sport in countries that experience cold and snowy weather throughout the year. The game dates back to the 19th century in Canada where it was initiated in icy conditions. Field hockey seems a difficult sport to play in such countries so they have found a unique way to enjoy a similar type of game but in a snowy field instead of grass.

Rules of Ice Hockey

Object of Playing Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is played with a small puck, you have to hit this puck across the field and take it to the opposition’s goal post with a hockey stick. Like field hockey, you can pass this puck to your teammates and the object of the game is also the same as in the previous i.e. to score more goals.

In the end, the team with the most goals wins the game. If the game is drawn, the winner is decided in extra time. In rare instances a penalty shoot out takes place if the game remains draw during the extra time.

How to Play?

Ice Hockey is played with a Ice Hockey stick and puck. Both teams have an equal number of players and each of them has his own Ice Hockey stick which he uses to pass the puck to his teammate or send it into the opposition’s goal post to score a goal. Winner is determined based on the number of goals scored by each team during the given time.

The game of Ice Hockey is guarded by stick rules regarding legal goal scoring and tackling. There are 10 different types of penalties that you have to face for small and severe infringements. Make sure you read the whole article to learn all the rules of the game.

Duration of Ice Hockey

The duration of ice hockey is 60 minutes – 3 halves of twenty minutes each. The team changes end after every half. 17-minute intermission takes place after the first and second half for players to take rest.

General Rules of Ice Hockey

  • Each team can name 20 players for the match.
  • 6 players play for each side on the field while rest come in and go out as substitutes.
  • In the start of the game, the referee drops the puck in between two opposition players who can scrap to win possession of the ball. This takes place in the centre of the circle with a face off.
  • Players can use physical force or body checking to win the puck off their opponent.
  • Players who commit minor penalties are ordered to leave the field for two minutes.
  • During that duration, the team will play with only 5 players. But if the opposition scores a goal in those two minutes, the player can return immediately.
  • You can only check a player who has the position of the puck. Tripping any opponent with the stick or holding their stick or hands can result in a penalty offense.
  • There are no yellow or red cards but if you fight with a player, referee or inflict serious injury to a player, you can be removed from the field for up to 5 minutes.

Equipments in Ice Hockey

In Ice hockey, each player has his own stick along with ice skates. They also wear a series of padding, masks, helmet, arm guards and gloves for protection. In Ice hockey we don’t have a typical hockey ball like but a puck.

Ice hockey stick: These sticks are approximately 150-200 cm long and made of shaft with a flat extension at one end known as the blade. This blade is used to make contact with the ball and is typically 25 to 40 cm long.

Puck: The standard ice hockey puck can measure up to 1 inch in thickness and 3 inches in diameter. The weight of these pucks stays between 5.5 – 6 ounces.

Stake: General rule of thumb says your hockey skate should be 1-1.5 sizes smaller than your street shoes. The space in the heel shouldn’t exceed more than half inch otherwise it would feel loose.

The helmet, masks and gloves are protective gears and have nothing to do with the game. They are available in various styles and sizes, you can choose the one that fits over your body and gives you a sense of protection.

Ice Hockey Field

Hockey field is commonly known as an ice rink and it is divided into two halves – each team has to defend their goal post in their respective half.

Faceoff Spots: There are a total of 9 faceoff spots in hockey rink. Faceoff takes place at these posts. The faceoff spot circle is 12 inches in diameter.

Circle Dimensions: The center faceoff spot and faceoff circle is denoted by blue color. The circle is 30 feet in diameter.

Goal Posts and Nets: As per the rules, the opening of the goal must be 72 inches wide by 48 inches and the footprint must be 40 inches deep. It is part of the attacking or offensive zone.

Crease: The crease is the area where a goaltender performs his job without interference from opposition players. It is denoted by a straight line extending 4.5 feet (1.4 m) perpendicular from the goal line 1 foot (30 cm) outside each goal post. This is connected by an arc with a 6-foot radius. Two harsh marks are also there – 5 inches each and located 4 feet from the goal line that extends up to 5 inches into the crease from either side.

Playing Positions in Ice Hockey

There are three main playing positions in Ice hockey.

Forwards: The players who play at forward are responsible for goal scoring. Their teammates pass them the puck and their job is to utilize every goal scoring opportunity.

Defense: Defense players play behind forwards and defend their goalposts. They are the first obstacle to overcome for the opposition before they reach the goalpost guarded by the goalie (goalkeeper).

Goalie: Goalie’s job is to defend goalposts and he rarely leaves the net. However, if he wishes to, he can leave the goal as per the rules of the game.

Ice Hockey Penalties

In ice hockey, if you don’t comply with the rules you can be penalised. Here are some of the common misconducts that lead to punishment are:

Butt ending: Butt ending occurs when a player jabs any opponent with the top of his stick.

Checking from behind: Checking is allowed but not from behind, if you make contact from behind to injure a player or take possession of the ball, you can be penalised by the referee.

Cross Checking: Cross checking is when a player checks with both hands on the stick.

Elbowing: Elbowing is strictly forbidden in ice hockey because it can inflict serious injury to an opponent.

Fighting: It’s rare but it can occur during close encounters. It is assessed when a player drops his gloves and starts fighting with an opponent.

Hooking: Hooking is when a player disrupts the progress of an opponent by hooking him with the stick.

Interference: If you disrupt the progress of a player, not having the possession of the puck, this is called interference. This is also the case when a player knocks out the stick from an opponent’s hand.

Kneeing: When a player deliberately hits the opponent with the knee while running to cause him to lose balance and fall down.

Slashing: When a player deliberately hits an opponent with a stick or slashing him to impede his progress, it can result in a penalty.

Spearing: This is a serious violation. It is like intentionally stabbing an opponent with the blade of the stick to injure him.

All these violations can result in the offending player spending 2-5 minutes out of the field.

Offside in Hockey

Offside is a common infringement in ice hockey, it occurs when a player enters the offensive zone without having the possession of the puck or any of his team members having the possession. In case of offside, the game restarts from the offside spot by the non-offensive side’s player.

Penalty Opportunities in Ice Hockey

A penalty shot is awarded when a team loses a crystal opportunity to score a goal because of a foul committed by an opposing player. A player from the non-offensive side gets the opportunity to score a goal with only the goalkeeper protecting the goalpost.

Penalty Shoot out in Ice Hockey

A penalty shootout takes place in case of tie, if no winner could be decided in the extra time. Each team gets 5 penalty strokes. Only the goalie remains at the goalpost during penalty shoot out while one player from the striking side gets a go at the goal. Which team will get the first penalty shoot is determined by a coin toss.

Referee’s Role

A referee’s job is to maintain order in the game. A referee in ice hockey can be identified by the red or orange armbands. Referee is the only official authority in ice hockey to assess penalties on violations of the rules.

Famous Ice Hockey Tournaments

Ice hockey is played at different levels. Some of the famous ice hockey tournaments include:

  • Ice hockey world cup
  • Euro hockey tour
  • Berlin international tournament
  • Asian ice hockey tournament

Famous Ice Hockey Venues

The ice hockey venues are unique and difficult to maintain. They are found in only those countries where the weather remains cold and have the resources to maintain them. Some of the famous venues are:

  • Bell Center – Montreal, Canada
  • United Center – Chicago, USA
  • Scotiabank – Toronto, Canada
  • TP Garden – Boston, USA

Governing Body

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is a worldwide governing body for ice hockey games. The federation is based in Switzerland and has 81 members. It is responsible for maintaining the IIHF world ranking based on international ice hockey tournaments.