Hockey is an extremely fun sport to watch but not understanding it is not so fun. The sport is so fast-paced that you have to pay close attention to detail. Once you learn the basic rules of hockey, everything seems to fall into place. The layout of the rink or playing space is below and also the different zones are labeled.
Previously, stoppages were mentioned while talking about puck drops. Here are some examples of stoppages that won't hurt the other team as a penalty would.
Icing: This is one of the two most misunderstood calls in hockey. The rule is that if the puck is passed into the Offensive Zone by a team from their defensive zone, and no one touches it, then the puck has been "iced." In the NHL, play will not stop until the defense touches the iced puck. This gives the offense a chance to get to the puck first. If the iced puck is touched first by the team that iced it (the offense), then play will continue. If play is stopped for icing, the puck will come back to be dropped in a face off circle in front of the goal tender, and the players on the ice at the time the icing was happening from the team must stay on the ice as a penalty. This is significant because many teams ice the puck to get it out of their zone, and try to get new players on the ice at the same time.
Off Sides: This is also misunderstood some times. Off sides is really not that hard to follow if you remember one thing. The puck always has to be in the Offensive Zone before the offensive players. There is one exception; a defensive player can put the puck back into his own zone while the other team has offensive players in his zone. Off sides is waved off, and the offensive players can touch the puck with no consequence. There are a few things to understand about off sides. First, the whistle will only blow if a player attempts to make a play or touches the puck while the linesman has indicated that a team is off sides. The puck will then be dropped to start play on a face-off dot in the Neutral Zone. Second, delayed off sides is the term used when a linesman has indicated that a team is off sides, and the whistle has not yet blown. During this time, if all offensive players have left the Offensive Zone (retreated back to the Neutral Zone), and the puck has not come out of the zone in question, the linesman will indicate that the delayed off sides is over, and the offense can then re-enter the Offensive Zone, and pursue the puck. Third, there are times that teams will cause an off sides in the Offensive Zone intentionally. If the linesmen feel that this is the case, then the face-off will come all the back in front of the goal tender of the team that is off sides.
Hand Pass: At no time during play can anyone close their hands on a puck. That will be discussed in a later topic where minor penalties are explained. Hand passes stop play if the puck is touched by a player of the same team as the one who committed the hand pass. Hand passes are considered legal only if a defensive player does a hand pass in his own zone. The puck will be dropped in the Neutral zone on a face off dot closest to where the puck was touched after a hand pass.
Puck Over Glass: If the puck leaves the rink and into the crowds, then play will be stopped. This is why people are usually warned before a game to watch out for flying pucks. Hockey is a very entertaining sport and hands on sport.
Puck Touched by a High Stick: If the puck is touched by a stick above the player's shoulders, it has been played with a high stick. If this occurs, play will stop if the next player who plays the puck is on the same team as he who touched the puck with a high stick. Also, if a goal is scored by a player who last touched the puck with a high stick, that goal will be dis-allowed, and the face off will come to the face off circle or dot closest to where that player was standing at the time of the high stick and the fans will be very mad. If the other team controls the puck after the incident of a high stick, and play has not yet been halted (meaning the same team has not touched the puck), then the high stick infraction is waved off, and play will continue.
Puck Kicked in Net with Distinct Kicking Motion: In hockey, kicking is not allowed because this is not soccer! If the puck appears to have been kicked in the net distinctly then the goal will be waved off. If the player is skilled enough to kick the puck in without making it look suspicious then the goal won't be waved and that player just got away with something illegal.
Goal Tender "Freezes" the Puck: In hockey, the only person who can stop the puck on the ice, catch it and close his hand on it, or pin it in clothing and equipment with the intent to stop play is the goalie. The goal tender can and often does stop play when the opposing team is threatening to score and he gets too stressed out because everyone is around him. Referees are instructed to stop play once they lose site of the puck under a goalie. Hockey game clocks stop and will require the puck to be dropped in a face off circle close to that goal tender to resume upon goalies freezing the puck.
Now here are some minor penalties in hockey. To start, penalties are stoppages where players do personal offenses against other teams and other players. In the event that a penalty is to be called and play is to be stopped, a referee will indicate that a penalty is to be called by raising his hand above his head. He will then wait to stop play until a player from the team of the offending player touches the puck. The referee waiting for this "touch up" is known as a "delayed penalty." During this time, teams often will have their goal tender rush to the bench to get an extra offensive skater on the ice to try to score during the delay. Penalties will result in the offending player sitting in a "penalty box" isolated from other team players for the allotted time of the penalty. This period of time is know as a power play. The team of the offending player can not put a player on the ice to replace the penalized player. (Teams are allowed 6 players on the ice during regulation play. This is usually 5 players and a goal tender.) During the power play, the team of the penalized player will then be down a man resulting in a 5 on 4 in favor of the other team. There are often times that teams can be down two players resulting in a 5 on 3. Other combinations are 3 on 3, 3 on 4, and 4 on 4. No matter how many players are in the penalty box for a given team, the fewest number of players a team can be restricted to is 3 skaters and their goal tender.
Minor penalties that have caused one team to be short handed can end early if the team with more players (on the power play) scores a goal. Then the penalized player with the least amount of time can come out. Any remaining players with time remaining are to remain in the box. Otherwise, if the time were to expire naturally, and no goal is scored in the period of time during the penalty, then play continues as the penalized player will come out of the box to continue play.
High Sticking (2 or 4 min): High Sticking is a minor penalty where at anytime a player's stick makes contact with any part of an opposing player above the shoulders. Intent has nothing to do with most minor penalties. In the case of a player's stick, they are to always be in control. Even if someone else causes a high sticking penalty, there is no argument. High Sticking is a 2 minute minor offense. However, if blood is drawn by a high stick, the time will be counted as two minor penalties in a row. Because it is determined as two minor penalties, if a goal is scored in the first 2 minutes, then the rest of that 2 minute period is removed, and the second minor is started. If a goal is scored in the second 2 minute period, then the player can come out of the box and continue play.
Tripping (2 min): Tripping is the act of taking down an opposing player by taking his skates out from under him. This can be done with a stick, skate, arm, or other part of the player's body and / or equipment. Somewhat self-explanatory.
Boarding (2 min): There are two varieties of Boarding. The minor version is a mild act of attacking a man from behind into the boards while in a defenseless position. This rule was created to protect the health and future career of NHL players. Players are allowed to run into (aka: check or checking) other players who have or are close to obtaining the puck. Players who are hit from behind into the boards around the rink are considered defenseless. The referee will judge weather the defenseless hit into the boards was malicious or not. If he feels it is an offense but not a Major Penalty, it will be a 2 minute minor. We will talk about the major penalty version later.
Goal Tender Interference (2 min): Players are allowed to check other players as long as the puck is close, and it is not an unnecessary hit. There is one exception. Players are never allowed to check the goal tender. In recent seasons, players have found ways to interfere with a goal tender without actually checking him. As a result, a new definition of goal tender interference was adopted. Players must make all efforts to avoid contact with the goal tender while he is in the crease (the blue paint in front of the goal). Players are also prohibited from facing the goal tender and waving in his face or other acts of distraction. Many teams feel that their goal tender is interfered with more often then it is called by officials.
Interference (2 min): Unlike goal tender interference, contact with other players on the ice is as much a part of the game as ice skating. Hits, checks, and contact happens continuously throughout the course of the game. Although contact is legal, every player is supposed to have an equal chance to get to the puck. Interference is hitting anyone who does have the puck or is on the bench.
Diving (2 min): People fall throughout the game, but diving is called when a player exaggerates a fall to try to draw the attention of the officials. At times, a player gets tripped, and if official feels the nature of their fall was a deliberate attempt to get attention, he too will serve 2 minutes. So, nice acting job.
Delay of Game (2 min): This can be called if a player tries to waste time or draw a stoppage of play by either laying on the puck or putting the puck off the ice and into the stands from the Defensive Zone.
Too Many Men on the Ice (2 min): Hockey is such a dynamic sport that players are coming off the bench and into play while the game is still playing. Since players are jumping off the ice and being replaced on the fly, there is bound to be some overlap and extra players are physically touching the ice while the game is going on. This penalty is called when too many players are on the ice "playing" and are not in the act of coming off the ice. Players can get caught on the ice if they are trying to jump onto the bench, and they inadvertently touch the puck with their feet, stick or some part of their equipment after their replacement has already entered the playing surface. No matter how inadvertent this last action is, they are still "in play", and effected play as an extra man, therefore, they are penalized for too many men.
Cross Checking (2 min): Cross Checking is when a player uses his stick with two hands and forcefully pushes another player by extending his arms, resulting in his stick hitting the opposing player. In other words, the player punches another with his stick using two hands.
Slashing (2 min): This is the use of the stick in action similar to that of a baseball bat aimed towards the stick, legs, arms or body of an opposing player. Stick checking is legal, and is very similar but yet different than slashing. Slashing is usually intended to distract or injure, and at times does the latter.
Holding the Stick (2 min): Each player is to be responsible for his own stick, and at no time can hold another stick that is not theirs. Preventing a player from gaining access to the puck by holding his stick will result in a visit to the penalty box for 2 minutes.
Hooking (2 min): Hooking is defined as grabbing a part of an opposing player or part of his equipment with a stick parallel to the ice.
Holding (2 min): Holding is when a player grabs or hangs on another player. This is often called as interference, and is recorded as "interference, holding." Interference is often paired with other offenses such as hooking and tripping.
Roughing (2 min): This is usually when players push excessively after plays are over, or if the referee feels a particular hit was unnecessarily rough.
Rules of the Penalty Shot: In hockey, if a player is tripped, held, or hooked from behind, and it is determined by the referee that the offensive player would have made it to the net to attempt to shoot the puck, he may waive the 2 minute penalty time, and award the offensive player with a penalty shot. If that happens, the puck will be placed at center ice and the player will try to shoot the puck into the goal with only the goalie defending the goal. Once they make a shot, they are not allowed any more chances and the game resumes.
Major penalties are called in the exact same way as minor penalties. The two differences between a minor and a major penalty are the time served by penalized players, and what happens when the team with the ensuing power play scores. A major penalty is five minutes compared to a two minute minor penalty . Regardless of how many goals are scored against the penalized player's team, if he is serving time for a major penalty, he stays in until his time is up.
Some major penalties include:
Boarding: Very similar to the minor version above, a player who hits a defenseless player from behind into the boards has committed boarding. However, if the referee determines that the hit was too much and excessive, he can upgrade the call to a major penalty.
Roughing: Again, like its 2 minute minor variety, roughing can have a dark side too. If a player gets out of control, and starts hitting others high, such as around the head, with the intent to injure that player, they will likely see a 5 minute major for roughing. Players, hopefully, are aware of others around them and don't get hit unaware. A solidly placed check on a player not looking up is not considered "too rough" in most cases. The referee will decide if a player is out of line, and is just playing too rough for the safety of the other team.
Fighting: Players push each other and look like they are fighting all game. They tackle and rub their gloves in each others' face all day, and this is usually not called. Emotions run hot in hockey. Fighting is called only when gloves are removed or "dropped." Once a player has dropped his gloves with the intent to fight, he will get a 5 minute major for fighting. The instigator may get an extra 2 minute minor for trying to pick the fight. Most often, when there are offsetting major penalties (in other words, two players tussle, they both go off... the penalties offset), both teams can still skate 5 on 5 (or what ever the player count was before the fight happened). Fighting is the most common major penalty in the NHL.
Game Misconduct: This is technically not a major penalty, but it only gets called with major penalties these days. This just means the player is ejected from playing the remainder of the game. If he has penalty time to serve, a player on his team will sit in the box for him, since he has been removed from the game. In the NHL, if a player gets three Game Misconducts in a season, he will be banned from playing in one game, and other actions can possibly result (fines, suspensions, etc.).
Another part of hockey is overtime. If the game ends in regulation (after third periods) and the score is tied, then the game will go into overtime. Overtime is a five minute period of play where the first time that scores wins the game. Even though that team won, the other team is awarded with a point. In the NHL, the standings of teams are based on points and not wins or losses. Wins and losses contribute to points but they are not what standings are solely based upon. If neither team scores in overtime, then a shoot out will occur. This is where the team sends one player to shoot the puck in the goal with only the goalie there to defend it. It's the same set up as a penalty shot but the situation is much different. At first, three players from each time shoot and both teams alternate turns. If both teams keep scoring or the opposite, the shoot out will still go on until one person scores and the other team doesn't. Shoot outs are very intense and can bring out the best or worst in goaltenders. A good goaltender would stop most shots in the shoot out but he also has to depend on his team to be able to get the puck in the net.
There is usually going to be six players on the ice (unless there is a power play)
Here are the positions on the ice:
Goalie: Extremely important to a team. His job is to protect the net at all costs and he is in the crease the entire game. A good goalie can determine the game's fate.
Defensemen: Usually two are on the ice and they can score goals but they also can specialize on defense. They help out the goalie the most by always being towards the back of an offense attack in case the other team steals the puck and goes toward their offensive zone.
Right Wing: Usually on the right side of the ice (shocker!) and moves around a lot in the offense zone because they score goals.
Left Wing: Same as the right wing except that he needs to be on the left side of the ice (double shocker!).
Center: This player has to be good at his position because he's usually placed in face-offs and also scores goals for the team.
Below is a visual of how offense is supposed to look like (Note: Offense does not always look like this)
One century of this game and League is a wonderful milestone to celebrate. Let's hope to do this in the next century!