Hockey Butt-Ending Penalty

Ice Hockey Butt Ending

In ice hockey, butt-ending occurs when one player uses the portion of his hockey stick which sits above his upper hand offensively, either to check an opposing player or to jab them with the end of the stick. This end of the stick, opposite the end used to strike the puck, is called the “butt-end” and is often used to strike quick blows to an opposing player illegally.


Butt-ending is a type of penalty in ice hockey where a player uses the upper end of their stick, which sits above their top hand, to deliver a quick, jabbing blow or check to another player. Butt-ending can be dangerous, as it puts a player's face and eyes in danger.

A hockey referee will call a butt-ending foul if they see a player attempt to use their stick to jab another in the face. This type of action often occurs while fighting for the puck. Grappling players move very quickly in hockey, and it can be easy for one player to attempt to jab his opponent in the face while fighting for the puck, as this will make the other player back off, opening up the rink. However, because this action is an aggressive and unsportsmanlike move, it is declared a penalty in hockey. Any player who attempts to butt-end another is charged with a minor penalty of two minutes in the penalty box or a double-minor penalty of four minutes, while anyone who successfully butt-ends an opponent player is charged with a major penalty of five minutes and is often fined.

In youth hockey leagues, butt-ending is often grounds for immediate disqualification from the match. Meanwhile, butt-ending in higher leagues such as the NCAA carries less severe consequences but can still be grounds for ejection if egregious. 


There are various consequences for butt-ending. An attempted butt-end earns a double-minor penalty in the NHL, while a successful one earns a major penalty or a match penalty if an injury is caused. A $100 fine, or higher, is also common. In the NCAA, butt-ending earns a major and a game misconduct penalty, which is ten minutes in the penalty box but can also include disqualification at the referee’s discretion. NFHS Hockey requires disqualification for butt-ending, while USA Hockey requires a major and game misconduct penalty for both attempted and successful butt-ends with the possibility of a match penalty for reckless endangerment in addition. 

Penalty Signal

In the NHL, NCAA, and USAH, the signal for butt-ending is the same. When the referee calls a butt-ending foul, he closes the fist of his right forearm and holds his left forearm to his chest with his hand flat and his palm down. He then moves his arms towards each other, the right arm going beneath the left, and jabs them outward, mimicking a butt-end.


  • Players 1 and 2 are fighting for the puck against the boards. Player 1, while struggling for the puck, attempts to jab his opponent in the face with his stick but misses. The referee calls a penalty on Player 1 for butt-ending.
  • Player 1 has the puck and is skating towards the end zone for a goal. Player 2 comes alongside him and attempts to knock the puck away while also using the butt-end of his stick to strike Player 1 in the face. Player 2 receives a butt-ending penalty.
  • Player 1 and Player 2 are facing off for the puck. When they come together, Player 1 turns to his side and uses the end of his stick to strike Player 1 in the eye in order to get the puck. Player 2 is injured, and Player 1 receives a penalty for butt-ending and is ejected from the game.  

Similar Penalties to Ice Hockey Butt-Ending Penalty

  • Elbowing
  • High-Sticking
  • Spearing
  • Slashing
  • Hooking
  • Tripping


What is butt-ending in hockey?

Butt-ending is a penalty in ice hockey that occurs when a player intentionally jabs, strikes, or checks another player with the butt-end of his stick, the portion above their upper hand. Butt-ending is a penalty at all levels of hockey, as it can cause serious injury. It is often grounds for a major penalty or disqualification from a game and can even result in fines for the offending player.

What are the consequences of a butt-ending penalty in hockey?

Butt-ending is a penalty with major consequences. In the NHL, attempted butt-ending is a double-minor penalty punishable by four minutes in the penalty box. Successful butt-ending is a major penalty of five minutes or a game misconduct penalty of ten minutes, and can even result in a match penalty if injury results, leading to an ejection. Sometimes, butt-ending can result in a fine of $100 or more. In the NCAA and USAH, butt-ending is an automatic major or game misconduct penalty, though ejection can be added. In the NFHS, butt-ending results in automatic disqualification from the match.

Can you get hurt from being butt-ended in hockey?

Butt-ending can absolutely cause an injury in ice hockey. Since hockey sticks are made of hard materials, being struck by one can hurt a lot, especially if the blow is in the eye or face. Additionally, as the butt-end of the stick is blunt and square, with sharp corners, a jab to the face could potentially strike a player in the teeth or eyes, which are vulnerable to injury. A severe jab could potentially result in major damage to the eyes, leading to vision problems and even surgery. At the same, a strike to the face could cause bruising or even fractures, depending upon the strength and location of the blow.