Hockey Face-Off Interference

Ice Hockey Face off Interference

Face-off interference is a type of face-off violation that occurs in hockey when one player in a face-off makes contact with their opponent, using any part of their body or stick, before the puck is dropped. This violation results in the offender being replaced in the face-off and a time penalty potentially being assessed.


In a face-off, the two players facing-off must: arrive promptly at the face-off spot; keep their skates outside the outer circle; place their sticks on the ice, attacking player first; and wait until the puck has been dropped before playing it; all without making contact with their opponent. Failure to comply with any of these requirements constitutes a face-off violation. This includes making contact with the face-off opponent, which is called face-off interference. Any contact constitutes face-off interference, whether it is made with a body part or a stick, unless the referee determines that the contact was incidental to playing the puck. Committing any face-off violation, including face-off interference, will result in the referee replacing the offender in the face-off by another teammate who is on the ice. If a team commits two face-off violations within a single face-off, that team will be assessed a bench minor penalty for delay of game, and a player from that team will be forced to serve a time penalty.


The result of face-off interference is always a face-off violation and sometimes also a minor penalty, depending on the league and the referee’s discretion. All leagues consider face-off interference a face-off violation, so a teammate will replace any offender in the face-off. In professional leagues, a minor penalty may be assessed on the player causing the interference at the discretion of the referee. In amateur leagues, face-off interference results in a minor penalty automatically being assessed.

Referee Signal

When face-off interference occurs, the referee will immediately stop play with a whistle. As face-off interference is a face-off violation, the referee will instruct the offending player to leave the face-off spot, and another teammate will replace them at the face-off spot. There is no referee signal to indicate face-off interference. If a minor penalty is assessed as a result of face-off interference being committed, the referee will announce the penalty and may point to the offending player to indicate that they are the one who must serve a time penalty.


  • Two players are lined up in a face-off. The referee is holding the puck aloft, about to drop it and conduct the face-off, but one of the facing-off players bumps their opponent with their stick.
  • A referee is conducting a face-off and drops the puck between two facing-off players. Before the puck hits the ice, one of the players lifts their stick off the ice and attempts to play the puck but ends up striking their opponent with their stick.
  • During a face-off, one player deliberately shoves the other before the puck has been played.

Similar Penalties to Face-Off Interference


What is face-off interference in hockey?

Face-off interference in hockey is a face-off violation that occurs when one player makes contact with the opponent they are facing off against by using any part of their body or stick. This contact must take place before the face-off is complete for face-off interference to occur. A face-off is complete when the referee has successfully dropped the puck. Face-off interference is a type of face-off violation and is sometimes punished by a minor penalty being assessed.

What are the consequences of face-off interference in hockey?

The consequences of face-off interference are removal from the face-off and potentially being assessed a minor penalty. Since face-off interference is considered a face-off violation, the player who committed the face-off interference will be removed from the face-off in exchange for a teammate, who will continue the face-off. If a minor penalty is assessed, the offending player will be forced to serve a time penalty, reducing their team’s number of players on the ice by one until the penalty expires.

Where do players line up for face-offs in hockey?

Players line up for face-offs in hockey at one of the nine face-off spots distributed around the rink. One face-off spot is located at center ice; this is the location of the face-offs at the start of periods and after scores. Four other face-off spots are located in each of the corners of the neutral zone, and two are located in each team’s defensive zone. Face-offs occurring after a time penalty is assessed are conducted in the offending team’s defensive zone.