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Ice Hockey Penalty Shots

What is a penalty shot? How do they work? When do teams get them? Get ready to learn about penalty shots in ice hockey.


Ice hockey is a high-contact sport. As a result, there are lots of penalties that can be called on players for their safety. When a penalty is called on the ice, three (3) things can happen depending on the situation:

  1. Power Play
  2. Penalty Shot
  3. Player Suspension

In this chapter, we will learn about penalty shots in ice hockey.

Penalty Shots

A penalty shot is a free attempt at a shot on goal for a single skater against a goalkeeper. Penalty shots are used to restore a scoring opportunity that was otherwise taken away as a result of a penalty by the opposing team.

When Penalty Shots Happen

The following are situations where penalty shot will be given to a team:

  • If a player is fouled on a clear breakaway
  • If the goal is purposely moved/displaced
  • If any defensive player (other than the goalkeeper) falls on the puck, holds it, or picks it up in the crease

In summary, of a player is denied a chance at a scoring opportunity and there was a possibility of a goal being made, a penalty shot will be awarded.

Penalty Shot Procedure

Penalty shots are defined by a strict procedure:

Step 1: The referee gets the name of player to take the penalty shot. The penalty shooter is the player who was fouled. Sometimes, the team captain can call for a replacement shooter.

Step 2: The referee places puck on the center face-off spot. He then blows his whistle and the penalty shot begins.

Step 3: The fouled player attempts to score a goal on opposing team's goalkeeper. Only the goalkeeper can defend. Other players on both teams must remain on their player benches.

IMPORTANT: The puck must continuously move forward towards the opposing team's goal line.

Step 4: The penalty shot ends once the puck comes to a complete stop on the ice, or if the puck crosses the goal line.

REMEMBER: The game clock and penalty clock do not tick during a penalty shot.


A penalty shot goal is awarded if a deflection causes the puck to go into the net. However, the deflection must be only from the following:

Spin Moves

In the NHL, penalty shooters are not allowed to perform full 360-degree spin moves.

Lifting The Puck Into The Air

The penalty shooter cannot lift the puck into the air with his hockey stick above the height of his shoulders or above the height of the crossbar.

Penalty Shot Violations

The penalty shot will be taken again or an automatic goal will be awarded to the team if the following violations occur:

  • If the goalkeeper leaves the goal crease prior to the shot. In this case, the referee may call for the penalty shot to be taken again.
  • The goalkeeper cannot throw his stick on the ice to stop a shot.
  • Players cannot distract or interfere with the penalty shot.
  • The goalkeeper cannot move the goal cage out of position.

The referee may automatically award the goal if the puck was on trajectory to score.

Post Penalty Shot Face-Off

After a penalty shot, a face-off will be performed to put the puck back into play.

If a goal is scored on the penalty shot, the face-off will take place at center ice.

If a goal is not scored, the face-off will take place in the zone where the penalty shot took place at either face-off spot.

Automatic Goal

Sometimes a penalty shot will not occur and a referee will automatically award a goal to a team. Here are few examples where a goal is rewarded without the need of a penalty shot:

  • If the puck would have gone into the net if the goal cage had not been displaced by a player.
  • If a player dives in front of the puck or fakes in injury/fall

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