What Is Roughing In Hockey?

Ice Hockey Roughing

Roughing in hockey is a penalty that occurs when a player uses unnecessary force in contacting an opposing player, such as a punch.

Roughing can also be called when avoidable contact occurs after the whistle is blown or when a player forcefully contacts another while they do not have possession of the puck.


The penalty for roughing is typically a minor penalty resulting in a two-minute stay in the penalty box. If the roughing is severe and results in injury, referees can warrant a major penalty resulting in five minutes in the penalty box. Major penalties will also be inflicted if a player commits roughing contact with an opposing player who doesn’t have possession of the puck after the whistle. Misconduct penalties can also be granted by the referee in extreme situations.

Referee Signal

To signal roughing during a game, the referee will blow the whistle, clench his hand into a fist, and swing his arm from his body both upward and outward. The referee will make this motion in front of the scorer’s box to let the off-ice officials know a roughing penalty has been called.


  • During a play, a player face-washes an opponent with their glove. A minor penalty for roughing will be assessed.
  • After the play has been whistled dead, a player punches an opponent without dropping their gloves. The opponent gets injured, and a major penalty for roughing is assessed to the offending player.


How long is a roughing penalty?

A roughing penalty occurs when there is any hostile and unnecessary contact to an opponent, such as pushing or shoving. This also occurs when there is any aggressive behavior or exchanges between players after the whistle is blown. This penalty is considered a minor penalty, which warrants the offending player to spend two minutes in the penalty box. Any minor penalties that result in the injury of an opponent may be changed to a major penalty, which would warrant a penalty sentence of five minutes.

What is a 5-minute penalty in hockey?

A major penalty in hockey is a severe rule violation that sanctions a five-minute stay in the penalty box. When this penalty is enforced, the penalized player must sit in the penalty box for a full five minutes, leaving their team shorthanded on the ice. Some penalties that warrant a five-minute stay in the penalty box are: butt ending, checking from behind, fighting, fight instigating, holding/grabbing the facemask, pushing off of opponents with skates, leaving the bench during an altercation, and spearing. Also, any minor penalty that results in an injury becomes a five-minute major penalty.

What are the different types of penalties in hockey?

There are three main types of penalty levels in hockey: minor, double minor, major, game misconduct, and match penalties. For more severe penalties, a harsher level of punishment will be enforced. Minor penalties warrant a two-minute removal from the ice and are releasable if a goal is scored by the team on a power play. Major penalties require a five-minute stay in the penalty box and are non-releasable, while misconduct penalties are punished by a full ten minutes in the penalty box. Game misconduct and match penalties result in removal from the game.

What is a slashing penalty in hockey?

Slashing occurs when a player illegally swings their stick at an opponent. Any sort of forceful swing of a stick on an opponent’s body, hands, or stick is considered slashing. Stick lifts do not result in a slashing penalty. Slashing penalties do not require contact to be made with a player, only the attempted act. Major or minor penalties can be enforced depending on the severity of the act. Player misconduct penalties can also result if any players are injured as a result of the slashing.