Rules of Hockey

A look at the most important rules

You're going to a game but have no clue about the rules. Then you're in the right place! We will go through to most important rules of the game while keeping it interesting.

In hockey, there are 6 players to each side, one of which is the goalie. The goalie can be pulled for an extra player. Hockey teams usually consist of 4 lines, totally to 20 players.

Hockey is a very intense sport. Players are usually on the ice for only 1 minute at a time before being substituted on the fly. Changing the players is called a "line change"

As the Puck is relatively small compared to a soccer ball and as hockey is played very fast, it's very easily to loose sight of what's going on. Which is why lights flash after a goal has been made, so that everyone knows a goal was scored.

There is 60 minutes of ice time in a game, which are split into 3 periods. Between the periods, there are 15 minute breaks. The play clock stops when the puck is not on the ice. During stoppages, the players are usually substituted. Games typically take two and a half hours.

Also, at the end of each period, teams switch sides. When the score is tied at the end of regulation, there is overtime. In the NHL, overtime is played in a 3 on 3 scenario, first goal wins. If after the overtime a goal has not been scored, the game moves into a shootout.


The hockey rink

The hockey rink featuring lines and dots. With that, every line has a reason. We'll explain it.


By the goals, there is the red goal line. In hockey, you may play behind the goals but not in the blue half circle, called crease.

The referee crease can be found in the neutral zone. On the rink, there are 8 red dots - 4 with circles. They are called face off zones . After the play is blown dead, the puck will be placed at the nearest faceoff zone.


In ice hockey, there are often fights. For the layman, this is an exciting part of the game. Physical contact is an important part of the game. It is allowed, and also tactically important, to check your opponent. Fisticuffs are usually punished with a 5 minute penalty for both partys.

So that things don't get out of hand, there are hard rules. We've summarised the most important penalties.

The most important rule is offside. When entering the attacking zone, if you or a team member crosses the blue line before the puck, the play is whistled dead and a faceoff will occur in the neutral zone.

Players are allowed to play the puck with their skates, but players cannot kick the puck into the goal.

Another classic rule break applies to the hockey stick. End of the stick may never be held above the shoulders.









Penalty: Penalty Shot: The tripped player is allowed a 1 on 1 with the opposing goalie. The ref calls a penalty shot when a player has a clear chance at a goal but he is fouled in order to ruin his chance. Usually this happens on a break away when a trailing defending trips the forward. A penalty shot is called when the following criteria have been met:
The foul does not take place in the defensive end.
The fouled play has the puck.
The player is attacked from behind.
A clear scoring chance was nullified through the offense.
There are no people between the fouled player and the goalie.
When a penalty shot is called, the following rules apply: Only the fouled player may shoot.
Only the player and goalie may be on the ice.
The goalie may not leave the crease until the puck at mid ice is played.
There is only one shot.

Overtime: Overtime: If regulation ends with both teams tied, there will be an extra sudden death overtime period of 5 minutes played. In the NHL, overtime is played 3 on 3. First goal wins. If there is no winner, then there is a shootout. Leagues have many different rules.

Playoffs Playoffs: In the playoffs, the top teams will be played in a tournament to decide the best team. In the NHL, 16 teams are in the playoffs. In the round of 16, the best western conference team faces the worst western conference team. Play-offs are played in a best of 7. One team must win 4 times in order to advance.

Hybrid Icing Explained

Fans cheering

To get you pumped up for the game, here's what you can expect. Notice the atmosphere, the intensity and the mood.

Watch this summary to get a quick overview of all the rules of hockey.

There are also rules concerning the uniform. All members of a team must look identical. That doesn't just apply to the jersey, but also the helmet, pants and socks. Of course the goalie has his own helmet. owayo offers a large sortiment of hockey jerseys and accessories, which you can customise yourself. Just take a look.

We hope we were about to give you an introduction into Hockey's most important rules and wish you much fun while you watch in the arena.

Photos: Main photo: ©istock/Dmytro Aksonov, Photo 1:©istock/ simonkr