Hockey Charging Penalty

Ice Hockey Charging

In all levels of hockey besides youth, body checking is a legal defensive maneuver that can help a team regain possession of the puck. However, there are certain rules that a skater must follow to perform a legal body check. If these rules are broken, a penalty is assessed. One of these body checking penalties is called “charging,” which is implemented to promote safe play.


Definition

A charging penalty is called when a player takes more than two strides or travels an excessive distance in order to accelerate for the purpose of body checking another player. A player has to be seen deliberately accelerating to hit another player, potentially injuring them for charging to be called. This can include skating or jumping into another player. Charging is considered a penalty due to the high risk of injury it poses to the player receiving the check. The difference between this penalty and a regular body check is the acceleration and distance traveled in the moments leading up to the check. There is a significantly larger amount of force in this penalty. It is up to the referee’s discretion to determine if the check is a charging penalty or not. For charging an opponent, a player can be charged with either a minor, major, or game misconduct penalty based on the extent of the violation.

A similar penalty is called boarding. The difference between charging and boarding is that boarding is called when a player is body checked along the boards instead of on the open ice. 

Result

There are multiple penalties that a referee can charge a player with when charging is called. A minor penalty would result in any player other than the goalkeeper being ruled into the penalty box for two minutes without substitution. A major penalty would call for any player other than the goalkeeper to be ruled off the ice for five minutes with no substitution allowed. When a game misconduct penalty is assessed, the player is suspended for the remainder of the game.

Penalty Signal

ice hockey charging penalty signal

When a referee sees that a player has charged another player, they first blow their whistle to stop play. They then clench their fists and move them in a circular motion in front of their chest. For charging an opponent, a player is charged with a minor penalty, a minor penalty plus misconduct, or a major penalty plus a game misconduct penalty. For injuring an opponent while charging, a player is given a major penalty plus a game misconduct penalty. For charging a goalkeeper, a player is charged with a minor penalty plus misconduct or a major penalty plus game misconduct.

Examples

  • A player takes five strides in order to body check his opponent. The excessive force caused by the large amount of distance traveled causes the receiving player to become injured.
  • A player jumps and targets an opposing player and delivers a body check while making contact with the player's head.
  • A player takes three strides and accelerates into his opponent. The referee recognizes that the body check was intended to injure the opposing player.

Similar Penalties to Charging

  • Boarding
  • Check from behind
  • Check to the head

FAQ

What is charging in hockey?

Charging in hockey is when a player takes more than two strides or travels an excessive distance in order to body check another player. The actions that result in a charging penalty can include targeting an opposing player, leaving skates before contact, head contact, or deliberate intent to injure. There are various levels of penalty length for charging, and the severity of the punishment is up to the referee’s discretion.

What are the consequences of a charging penalty in hockey?

Depending on the referee’s determination on the extent of the offense, a player can either be ruled off the ice to sit in the penalty box for two minutes without substitution, five minutes without substitution, or ten minutes with immediate substitution. A player could also be suspended for the remainder of the current game and the next game, or just the remainder of the current game plus a five-minute penalty.

Can you ever hit the goalie in hockey?

The goalie is never allowed to be hit in a hockey game. Even if the goalkeeper is outside the crease area, they are never allowed to be checked like the other players. This is outlined in rule 69.2 of the NHL rulebook. Rule 69.2 states that any deliberate contact with the goalie will result in the offending player receiving a penalty.