What Are The Rules Of Ice Hockey?

ice hockey rules and regulations

Ice hockey is a quick and physical sport and has become very popular in North America and parts of Europe. Hockey is Canada's national sport and is also a big part of the Winter Olympics. The is said to have developed in the late 18th-early 19th century from simple ball sports in the UK.


The goal of ice hockey is to score more points than the opposing team. In order for a team to gain a point, a player from that team must put the puck past the goaline. The goaline is surrounded by a hockey net, and goalies work to prevent pucks from crossing the goal line. In ice hockey, the puck must fully cross the goal line in order for a point to be awarded to a given team. It is illegal to kick the puck in the net or use your hand to put the puck in the net, therefore players must use their sticks to propel the puck into the net.

Deflections are when a player hits the puck toward the net with their stick, and the puck bounces off various things in front of the net and passes the goal line. Deflections may happen off of another teammate's stick, body, glove or skate, and occasionally they will occur off of an opposing player's body or stick.

Game Length

Ice Hockey Game Length

In most leagues, including the NHL (National Hockey League), a game consists of three 20 minute periods and the clock is stopped after every stoppage.

Match Officials

Ice Hockey Referee

The game is controlled by referees and lines judges. Referees assess which plays result in penalties and have the final decisions on any matter, and lines judges determine whether there is an offsides, icing violation, or whether a puck fully crossed the goal line or not.

Ice Hockey Teams

ice hockey team

There are two teams in ice hockey who battle against each other in order to score the most points. There are 5 players and one goalie on the ice for each team at the start of each ice hockey game. The number of athletes on the ice is later determined by the number of players in the penalty box, or a pulled goalie. Ice hockey teams typically have at least 20 players in total on each team.

Playing Zones

ice hockey rink

Ice hockey rinks have a number of red and blue lines that divide the ice into several sections. The centerline is a red line that divides the rink into two halves. The centerline is where a faceoff occurs at the start of each half, and after each goal. There are two blue lines which divide the ice into three zones, a defending zone, a neutral zone, and an attacking zone.


ice hockey faceoffs

A faceoff is when two players stand opposite of when another, and a puck is dropped between them by the referee. The two players, standing at one stick length apart, attempt to gain control of the puck after it is dropped by the official. Faceoffs happen at the start of each game and each period and also occur after each stoppage of play (Stoppages include icing, offsides, penalties, certain goalie saves, and pucks that go out of play).

Faceoffs before each game and after each period occur at the redline (center line) and faceoffs that happen as a result of a stoppage usually happen in various locations corresponding to the location of the stoppage of play. There are 2 faceoff zones in both the attacking and defending zones and 4 total faceoff zones in the neutral zone.


ice hockey offsides

If a player crosses the blue line in the attacking zone before the puck crosses the blue line, then that player will be called offsides, marking for a faceoff in the neutral zone.


ice hockey icing

Icing occurs when one player hits the puck out of the defending zone past the opposing team's goal line without another player touching the puck first. If this happens, the puck is brought back to the defending zone for a faceoff.

Physical Contact

Defense in hockey requires much physical contact to hinder the puck handler from scoring. Body checking is very common practice in hockey. Body checking is when a player uses their body to hit a puck handler off the puck in order to regain possession. Legal body checks include shoulder checks and hip checks. Stick checking is also legal, as many players use their sticks to hit an opponent's stick who is handling the puck in an effort to gain control of the puck.


ice hockey penalties

There are many different penalties in ice hockey. There are minor penalties, major penalties, and misconduct penalties which are all described by the severity of the penalty. In ice hockey, when a minor or major penalty occurs, a player is forced to sit in the penalty box for a given number of minutes. This means that the team serving the penalty is down a player. There may only be two players serving a timed penalty at each time, meaning a team will always atleast have 3 players on the ice compared to the standard 5 players.


What are the bluelines in ice hockey?

An ice hockey rink is split into three zones by two blue lines. The blue lines divide the ice into the defending zone, the neutral zone, and the attacking zone. These lines are very important to the game because they determine which players are offside or which players are icing the puck.

What is offsides in ice hockey?

Offsides occurs when a player crosses into the attacking zone, designated by the far blue line, before the puck enters the zone. When a team is attacking, the puck must be the very first first thing to pass into the attacking zone. This rule prevents people from entering the attacking zone too quickly. If a team is accused of offsides, play is stopped and there is a faceoff in the neutral zone.

What is icing in ice hockey?

Icing is when a player, in the defending zone, hits the puck all the way past the goal line of the other team. Icing prevents players from fully clearing the puck out of the defending zone as a defense strategy. Icing results in a faceoff in the defending zone. During power plays (a period of uneven teams due to a penalty) there are no icing penalties and players are allowed to clear the puck past the goal line of the other team.