Hockey Goaltender Interference Penalty

Ice Hockey Goaltender Interference

Goaltender interference in hockey is a penalty that is called when a skater impedes the goalie’s ability to stop the puck through physical contact. Unlike other players on the ice, it is illegal to make physical contact with the goalie no matter where they are positioned on the ice.


Hockey goaltender interference is a penalty that occurs when a player on the offensive team interferes with the goaltender’s ability to protect the goal by making physical contact with the goaltender. In a more general sense, interference refers to any instance in which a player makes physical contact with another player without any intention to play the puck or maintain their skating pace and interrupts the other player’s progress. However, physical contact can be made with either a player’s body or their hockey stick during a play on the puck. It is important to note that accidental contact with the goalkeeper does not incite a penalty.

The goaltender interference penalty exists in order to ensure that a player’s position, on its own, cannot influence whether or not a goal will be scored. As a result, goalkeepers are able to move freely within their designated area, also known as the goal crease. If a goal is scored and a referee determines a player has violated the goaltender interference rule, the goal will not count in most cases.

After the referee stops the play to discount a goal, a face-off will occur at the nearest neutral zone on the rink. Additionally, depending on the referee’s call, the player who made contact with the goalie will face either a minor or major penalty. During a minor penalty, a player from the offending team must serve a two-minute penalty in the penalty box, and for a major penalty, a player has to sit in the penalty box for five minutes.


When the goaltender interference penalty is called in the National Hockey League, the opposing team that interfered with the goaltender is issued a minor or major penalty, depending on the referee’s call. A minor penalty results in a player being required to exit the ice and sit in the penalty box for 2 minutes, while during a major penalty, a player has to sit in the penalty box for 5 minutes. At the collegiate level, the NCAA states that either a minor or major penalty can be issued for goaltender interference as well.

Referee Signal

Ice Hockey Goaltender Interference Penalty Signal

Before 2018, when a referee would call goaltender interference, he would blow his whistle and cross his arms with his fists in front of his chest. However, since the 2018 season, the call is now made by officials in the Situation Room in Toronto. Hockey officials review the footage from various camera angles to determine whether or not a player did interfere with the goaltender’s ability to defend the goal. That being said, the referee will still make the same signal to announce the Situation Room’s decision.


  • An offensive player shoves the goaltender while they are in front of the goal so that they are unable to protect the goal, and a goal is scored as a result.
  • An offensive player pushes a defending player into the goaltender and prevents the goaltender from protecting the goal properly.
  • An offensive player makes physical contact with the goaltender when they are outside of the goal crease, and the goaltender is then unable to get possession of the puck and defend the goal.

Similar Penalties to Goaltender Interference

  • Interference
  • Face-off interference
  • Tripping


What is goaltender interference in hockey?

Goaltender interference is a penalty issued when a player from the opposing team makes physical contact with the goalkeeper and impedes their ability to protect the goal. The physical contact can be made with either a player’s body or their stick. The goaltender interference penalty ensures that a player cannot unfairly prevent the goalkeeper from protecting the goal during a hockey game. By rule, the goalkeeper must be able to move freely in front of the goal without players getting in their way.

What are the consequences of goaltender interference?

Depending on the severity of the opposing player’s physical contact with the goaltender, the opposing team can be issued either a minor or major penalty. For minor penalties, a player has to sit in the penalty box for two minutes, and for major penalties, a player has to sit in the penalty box for five minutes. Additionally, if a goal is scored, but officials determine that there was goaltender interference after reviewing footage, the goal will be discounted.

Can you make contact with the goalie in hockey?

According to the NHL rulebook, attacking players who initiate intentional contact with a goalie will be issued a penalty. A goaltender interference penalty will be issued if a skater makes intentional contact with the goalie, regardless of where the goalie is on the rink or whether a goal was actually scored during the play. Therefore, the rules state that you are not allowed to make contact with the goaltender during a hockey game.