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Ice Hockey Power Plays

What is a power play? What does it mean for a team to be short-handed on the ice? Get ready to learn about power plays in ice hockey.

Introduction

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 power plays in ice hockey.

Power Plays

A power play is a duration of time during a game where a team has a player-advantage on the ice. The other team is short one or more (1+) skaters on the ice due to a penalty committed at the last stoppage of play.

Hockey Power Play

Power Play Terminology

In order to understand power plays, we need to learn a few key terms & concepts:

Penalty Box

If a player is called for a penalty, he must immediately leave the ice and sit in the penalty box until the duration of his penalty has expired.

Hockey Penalty Box

The time on the penalty clock depends on the type of penalty called. We'll cover all the categories of penalties later in this chapter.

IMPORTANT: It is possible for multiple players to be sent to the penalty box for both teams. However, no team can have fewer than three (3) skaters and one (1) goalie on the ice at all times.

Full-Strength

A team is at full-strength when they have the maximum number of players allowed on the ice, one (1) goalie and five (5) skaters.

Hockey Full-strength

Short-Handed

A team is short-handed when they have less than the maximum number of players on the ice, one (1) goalie and five (5) skaters.

Hockey Short-handed

The opposing team is on a power play whenever the opposing team is short-handed, since they have a player-advantage on the ice.

IMPORTANT: It is possible for both teams to be short-handed. In this case, both teams are on a power play.

Penalty Killing

When a team is on a power play, the opposing team is short-handed. They must wait for the penalty clock to expire to return to full-strength. Teams will do whatever they can to kill the penalty and waste time on the ice. One such strategy is called dumping. A team will dump the puck or hit it far out of the defensive zone to kill time on the penalty clock.

If a team succeeds at defending against a goal for the duration of the penalty clock, they are said to have killed the penalty.

PRO TIP: Dumping the puck out of the defensive zone and having it cross the goal lines is an icing infraction when teams are on full-strength. It is not an icing infraction if a team is short-handed.

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