Hockey High-Sticking Penalty

ice Hockey High Sticking

A hockey high sticking penalty occurs when a player lifts their stick above their shoulders and it makes contact with an opponent, regardless of whether it’s accidental or on purpose. A player should always be responsible for their stick.


Definition

A hockey player commits a high sticking penalty when their stick makes contact with an opponent above the shoulders. The penalty usually occurs on accident when players are battling for the puck, and someone accidentally lifts their stick into the opponent. Players are always responsible for their sticks, meaning even during a stoppage in play their stick cannot go above the opponent’s shoulders and make contact.

The key point to remember with high-sticking is it’s only considered a penalty if it touches the opponent. If a player in the NHL plays the puck with their stick above their shoulders, they won’t be penalized. However, the team will be unable to touch the puck until the other team touches it first. A player is also unable to score a goal with a high stick. If the puck goes into the net, the goal will be disallowed, and the faceoff will occur outside of the zone. However, it still won’t be a penalty. 

Result

In most leagues, including the NHL, AHL, and NCAA, each period is 20 minutes in duration. In these leagues, a high sticking penalty is two minutes and high sticking penalties that result in an injury trigger a four-minute double-minor penalty.

In youth hockey, leagues in which periods are 12 minutes or less, a high sticking penalty is a one-minute penalty. If the periods are between 12-17 minutes, the penalty is 1:30. In extreme cases, a player can be ejected if the contact with the stick is seriously endangering the opponent.

Penalty Signal

Ice Hockey High Sticking Referee Signal

When a player commits a high sticking penalty, a referee waits for the team that committed the penalty to regain possession of the puck. Once they get the puck, a ref blows the play dead. The referee then goes to center-ice, announces the penalty, and makes the corresponding penalty signal. To signal high-sticking, the ref places their right arm out and crosses it in front of their chest with a close fist. They also lift their left arm straight up also with a closed fist, mimicking a person holding a stick above their shoulders.

Examples

  • A player accidentally lifts their stick into an opponent's face
  • A player intentionally swings their stick above the normal shoulder level, and it accidentally hits the opponent
  • A player intentionally swings their stick above the normal shoulder level with the intent to injure the opponent

Similar Penalties to High-Sticking

  • Hooking
  • Slashing
  • Spearing

FAQ

What is a high-sticking penalty in hockey?

A hockey high-sticking penalty occurs when a player lifts their stick above their shoulders, and it makes contact with an opponent intentionally or unintentionally. Contact with an opponent must be made for this penalty to be called. The general rule of thumb in hockey is that a player is always responsible for their stick.

What are the consequences of a high-sticking penalty in hockey?

In most leagues, such as the NHL, in which the periods are 20 minutes long, a high sticking penalty is two minutes. High sticking penalties that result in injuries trigger a four-minute penalty.

In youth USA hockey leagues, a high sticking penalty is one minute due to the shorter length of each period. If the periods are between 12-17 minutes, the penalty is 1:30. In extreme cases, a player can be ejected if the contact with the stick is seriously endangering the opponent.

Why is high-sticking sometimes a double-minor penalty in hockey?

The most common way in which a high-sticking penalty can become a double-minor is if the penalty causes an injury to the opponent. The most common example is if the high-stick caused the opponent to draw blood. The penalty can also become more severe if the player intended to cause harm to their opponent. However, it’s rare to see intentional high-sticking penalties.