Ice Hockey Rules and Regulations: Briefly Explained


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Every sport has its own set of rules and regulations and ice hockey is no exception. There is a clear difference between field hockey and ice hockey and we are here to clearly explain the regulations and rules of the ice hockey game here.

Ice Hockey Game Objective

Ice Hockey Rules

The history of ice hockey dates back to the 19th century in Canada where the adaptations to the modern hockey game were played in icy conditions. The sport has become one of the largest in the World, and the main object of the game is to hit a small puck across the ice, before hitting it into the goal, with the help of a hockey stick.

Every time the puck gets into the goal, then one point is given for the team. The puck can also be passed around the players on the ice, and the opposition team will try and prevent the main team from scoring. The team that has the most goals at the end of the game is declared as winners of the game. If the game ends in a tie, then the game can go overtime, and the team that first secures the goal will be deemed as winners.

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Teams and Duration of Ice Hockey

The ice hockey matches are played in about three 20 minute periods and the clock is stopped every time the play stops. Thus every second is important and crucial in this game. Every team in the ice hockey game has a maximum of 20 players, which includes two goalkeepers. Only six players from each team can stay on the ice at one time. The team can make substitutions at any point during the game. 

Players and Equipment for Ice Hockey

The ice hockey game is played on an ice rink that measures about 61m in length and 30m in width. The ice rink is also split into three major sections. The middle section is known as the neutral zone and it includes a center circle, where the game starts. 

Each of the players in the ice hockey game will have their hockey sticks along with ice stakes and also a lot of safety gear that includes mask, helmet, shoulder pads, padded shorts, gloves, and arm guards.

Check out: Best Ice Hockey Sticks For Beginners

Scoring in Ice Hockey and Winning the Game

To score a goal, the player should hit the puck over the goal line. They can use any part of their body or the stick, but should not use the hand. The entire puck has to cross the line to be considered as a goal. To win the game, one team should score more points than their opponents. If the game ends up in a tie, then the game goes into overtime, and an additional quarter is played out, until one of the team scores. The team that scores first will be the winners.

The Main Rules of the Ice hockey

There are several uses of the hockey game. Some of them are enforced for the safety of the player and competitive play and some rules ensure the safe flow and pace of the game. The pivotal rules of the ice hockey game are as follows,

1. Icing:

Icing occurs when a player at the defensive zone passes or shoots the puck before they get to the center ice line and it crosses the red line on the other side, without being touched by another player. This is an essential rule that forces the teams to get the game moving, rather than merely using long shots from one side of the ice to run down the clock. A team on a penalty kill will are not given a penalty for icing. 

2. Offsides:

The offside rule is hockey, which states that any player who crosses the blue line into their attacking zone before the puck enters. The puck should always enter the attacking zone first and should allow all the players in the zone to leave and return if the puck is shot over the blue line when they are in the zone. After all the players clear the zone, they should enter and chase the puck. This is referred to as delayed offsides. The Offsides were put into place and thus prevents the opposing players from entering the offensive zone without the puck. 

3. Two-line pass:

An offside pass, also known as a two-line pass occurs when a player passes to the teammate and the puck crosses two lines on the ice surface. This rule forces shorter passes and makes players skate with the puck to move towards the attacking side of the ice. 

Penalties in Ice Hockey

  • The penalty is offered for boarding when one player crashes into another owing to illegal contact.
  • Charging occurs when a player checks another player and takes extra strides to gain momentum.
  • Using the stick while initiating a body check is termed as cross-checking.
  • Forceful use of the elbow during play in also deemed as a penalty.
  • If a player uses the curved blade of the stick to hinder the opponent, they are given a penalty.

General Rules of the Game

The ice-hockey game starts in the center circle with a face-off. This is the place where the referee drops the puck in the middle of the two opposing players. The players should scrap the ball from this position towards the goal post. The players can use all their physical force and strength to win the puck off the opponent.

Players who commit a minor penalty will be made to leave the ice for two minutes and their team will play only with five players in the two minutes’ duration. Major penalties will result in the player being removed from the ice for at least 5 minutes. Major penalties include fighting, inflicting injury, and repeated minor penalties.

Final Words

The ice hockey game is controlled by a referee, and he stands with a red armband. He controls the game and makes the final decisions on any matters. The referee will be assisted by a linesman, who watches whether the puck crosses the goal line or not.


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