Ice Hockey Penalty Clock

The penalty clock is one of two clocks in ice hockey. It keeps track of time in between penalties, showing how much time is left before a power play ends a skater can return to the ice.


In ice hockey, all clocks count towards zero. This adds a layer of pressure and suspense for players and fans. There are two clocks you should know:

In this tutorial, we will learn about the penalty clock, its rules, and how much time is on it.

The Penalty Clock

The penalty clock keeps track of how much time is left on a team's penalty before it expires.

Hockey Penalty Clock

Hockey Penalties

When a player commits a penalty on the ice, their team is given a penalty.

Penalty Box

The player that commits the penalty is removed from the ice and is placed in the penalty box.

Hockey Penalty Box

REMEMBER: The penalty box is a component of the rink located just outside the boards and is accessed via a door in the boards.

Time Limit

The player must remain in the penalty box for the allotted time on the penalty clock. The amount of time on the penalty clock is determined by the type of penalty assessed. We will briefly mention each of the penalties below, but we will learn more about them in future chapters.

Minor Penalties

If a minor penalty is given to a player, he must remain in the penalty box for two (2) minutes.

Hockey Minor Penalty

Double Minor Penalties

If a double minor penalty is given to a player, he must remain in the penalty box for four (4) minutes.

Hockey Double Minor Penalty

Major Penalties

If a major penalty is given to a player, he must remain in the penalty box for five (5) minutes.

Hockey Major Penalty

Power Plays

When a player is sitting in the penalty box, their team is short one player on the ice. This is advantage to the opposing team since the other team will have an extra player on the ice. It is referred to as a power play for the opposing team as long as the penalty clock is ticking.


When a team has five (5) skaters on the ice, the team is referred to as having full-strength. When a player commits a penalty, he must leave the ice and sit in the penalty box making his team short one skater. This is called being short-handed.

Hockey Short-handed


A team gains full-strength when the penalty clock expires and the power play ends.

Hockey Full-strength

Multiple Players In The Penalty Box

Multiple players on the same team can be in the penalty box. The penalty clock may show a combined time for both players on the same team, but a player is released once his penalty time limit ends.

PRO TIP: A team can have no less than three (3) skaters on the ice. If a third player commits a penalty, time is added to the penalty clock, but three (3) skaters remain on the ice.

Multi-Period Penalties

If time remains on the penalty clock as the period ends, it carries over to the next period and even into overtime periods.

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