What Is Penalty Box In Hockey?

ice hockey penalty box

The penalty box is an area or bench where ice hockey players are sent when assessed a penalty. Generally, teams can’t replace other team members sent to the penalty box, therefore needing to play “down a man.” Almost all penalties send players to the penalty box, unless it is a game misconduct or match penalty, which result in ejection. 

Time in the penalty box ranges based on the type of penalty that is called. When three or more players are serving penalties in the box, the team must continue without them and will not be allowed to add more players until the penalty time is over. Goaltenders can never enter the penalty box; another team member will take their penalty minutes instead.

Power Play

ice hockey power play

Whenever a team has a member in the penalty box serving a two-minute penalty, it is considered a “power play” for the other team. If the opposing team scores on the power play which resulted from a minor penalty, the penalized player will be released. If the player has a four-minute penalty and the previous situation occurs, then two minutes are taken away from the penalty box time constraint. Finally, for a five-minute major penalty, no time is taken away if a goal is scored during a power play, and the player must serve the full five minutes.  

Penalty Kill

A team that has been penalized will be on the penalty kill for the duration of the penalty. Another way to say a team is on the penalty kill is that they are “shorthanded,” as they are short at least one player while they serve penalty time in the box.

Game Misconduct Penalty

A game misconduct penalty is called for extremely egregious actions that have intent to injure an opponent. When a referee calls a game misconduct penalty, the offending player is removed from the game immediately. Since they are ejected, they won’t spend any time in the penalty box, and a teammate will come on the ice to replace them.

Other Names for the Penalty Box

  • Penalty Bench
  • Sin Bin
  • Box
  • Bin
  • Bad Box


What is a 5 minute penalty in hockey?

A major penalty is also classified as a “five-minute penalty,” meaning the offending player must serve the entire five-minute penalty in the box no matter how many times the opposing team scores. Major penalties include butt-ending, checking from behind, fighting and instigating, spearing, holding the face mask, pushing off of an opponent with a skate, leaving the bench during an altercation, and any minor penalty deemed as intentional to harm another player.

Who sits in the penalty box with hockey players?

The officials who sit in the penalty box with ice hockey players are known as penalty box ushers. These officials open the doors for the players serving their penalties out in the box and usher players in and out of the box. Penalty box ushers also track the time of each player's penalty to notify them as to when they can rejoin the game. Not all penalties are put onto the scoreboard, so the ushers are the main source of knowledge for players serving their time.

Is there a 10 minute penalty in hockey?

A 10-minute penalty in hockey is called a misconduct penalty, which results in the removal of a player. This removal of a player can only be of players on the ice other than the goalkeeper. The penalty will last for 10 minutes and is met with the substitution of another player onto the ice. The players serving the 10-minute penalty will remain in the penalty box until their time is fully served and the game has reached a stopping point.

What happens when a hockey goalie gets a penalty?

An ice hockey goalie will never go to the penalty box when they get a penalty. Yes, a goalie will still be given penalty minutes by a referee, but those minutes will be served by another player instead. The coach will choose a player from the bench or ice to serve the time in the penalty box.