Hockey Holding The Facemask Penalty

Ice Hockey Holding The Facemask

In ice hockey, a holding the facemask penalty occurs whenever a player uses their hands to grasp or pull on another player’s protective facemask illegally. Holding another player’s facemask can result in injuries to the head or neck, remove the helmet, and impede a player from making a key play. Therefore, grabbing the facemask is illegal and subject to penalties under ice hockey rules.


Definition

In ice hockey, players often come into physical contact with each other during matches, either by checking each other or grappling for control of the hockey puck. However, some forms of physical contact are prohibited in hockey, as they may allow one player an obvious advantage over another, impede a player from playing correctly, or even cause injury to a player. Grabbing and holding another player’s facemask is one of these illegal hockey moves and is grounds for a penalty in most hockey leagues.

Grabbing and holding the facemask in hockey is dangerous for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, grabbing the facemask could potentially cause an injury to a player’s head or neck, as the hand holding the mask can pull or twist their opponent’s head in an unnatural way. Secondly, having control of another player’s facemask impedes the player from moving correctly and can stop them from going after the puck or making a play. This gives the player holding the facemask an unfair advantage.

In most hockey leagues, holding the facemask is an illegal action that is subject to penalization. In the NHL, grabbing the facemask is one of many actions considered “unsportsmanlike conduct” fouls, which are defined as disorderly conduct before, during, or after a match. In the NCAA, holding the facemask is its own penalty, with rules prohibiting placing or pushing a hand against an opponent’s facemask, moving a hand back-and-forth on an opponent’s mask (“face washing”), and grasping, pulling, or twisting an opponent’s facemask. Most youth hockey leagues, such as the NFHS and USA Hockey, also consider holding the facemask illegal.  

Result

There are various punishments for holding the facemask at different levels of ice hockey. In the NHL, holding the facemask is considered unsportsmanlike conduct and earns a minor penalty of two minutes in the penalty box. In the NCAA, pushing or touching the facemask is a minor penalty, while “face washing” (waving a hand in front of the facemask) is a major penalty of five minutes. Additionally, gripping or twisting the facemask is a major penalty plus a game misconduct penalty of ten minutes and can even be met with disqualification. In the NFHS and USA Hockey, major penalties are given to players who hold the facemask and are often paired with game misconduct penalties and ejections from the game in the case of reckless endangerment of another player.     

Referee Signal

Ice Hockey Holding The Facemask Penalty Signal

In hockey, there are various signals used for holding the facemask. In the NHL, because holding the facemask is considered an unsportsmanlike conduct foul, the signal used is that for unsportsmanlike conduct, which involves the referee making a “T” symbol with his hands. However, grabbing the facemask has its own signal in the NCAA and youth hockey leagues. This signal is similar to the signal for a facemask in American football, in which the referee uses a single or double fist to mimic the grasping and pulling down of a facemask.

Examples

  • During an NHL Hockey match, Players 1 and 2 are grappling for the puck. Player 1 reaches out and grabs the facemask of Player 2, holding him away so Player 1 can retrieve the puck. The whistle is blown, and Player 1 receives a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, spending two minutes in the penalty box.
  • In an NCAA Hockey game, Players 1 and 2 are chasing the puck. Player 3, Player 2’s teammate, enters and grabs Player 1 by the facemask, pulling him away. Player 3 receives a major and a game misconduct penalty for pulling on Player 1’s facemask.  
  • In a youth hockey match, Players 1 and 2 are against the boards and going for the puck when Player 2 grabs Player 1’s facemask and pulls him to the ground, using his advantage to retrieve the puck. Player 2 receives a major and game misconduct penalty, a match penalty for recklessly endangering another player, and is ejected from the game.

Similar Penalties to Holding The Facemask

  • Holding
  • Hooking
  • Interference
  • Tripping
  • Eye-Gouging

FAQ

What is a holding the facemask penalty in hockey?

Holding the facemask is a penalty in ice hockey that occurs whenever a player uses their hands to push, grasp, or pull on another player’s facemask. This type of action not only impedes the other player from moving correctly but is also very dangerous, as it can cause injuries to the head or neck of the player whose mask is being grabbed. Therefore, holding the facemask is illegal in most hockey leagues and is subject to penalties such as unsportsmanlike conduct, minor and major penalties, and even ejection.

What are the consequences of being called for holding the facemask in hockey?

Depending on the league, there are various consequences for holding the facemask in hockey. In the NHL, holding the facemask is a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Meanwhile, holding the facemask in the NCAA can be a minor penalty, a major penalty, a major plus game misconduct penalty, or even disqualification. In youth hockey, holding the facemask is a major or game misconduct penalty, as well as a match penalty in the case of reckless endangerment of another player.

What are the different types of holding penalties in hockey?

There are various types of holding penalties in hockey aside from holding the facemask. Holding itself is a penalty in hockey, which is defined as any action by a player that restrains or impedes the progress of an opposing player whether or not he is in possession of the puck. Holding is usually a minor penalty in hockey. Another holding penalty is hooking, which is the act of using a hockey stick in a manner that enables a player to restrain an opponent. Hooking can be a minor or a major penalty.