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In a Word -- the Vocabulary of Ice Hockey

© John Keith 2010

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Some Important Rules of Play

A number of rules, of course, have to be followed in the playing of the game. When players are advancing toward the opposing net, the puck must pass over the blue line first, either on a player’s stick or in a pass, before any players can cross the blue line. If a player crosses the blue line before the player who is carrying the puck crosses the line or if a player is inside the blue line and receives a pass from outside the blue line, the ref blows his whistle to stop play. In addition to the referee, there are two linesmen who help the referee keep track of the puck. After the whistle blows for an “offside” , there is a face-off back where the pass originated or somewhere in “neutral territory” between the two blue lines. Another rule is that a legal pass cannot go over two lines, for example if a puck is shot in from behind the red centre line and it crosses the red line at the end of the playing area before an opposing player can get to it, it is called icing. A linesman puts his arm in the air and the referee blows the whistle to stop play. The puck is then brought all the way back into the offending team’s territory for a face-off.


Players are allowed to play roughly, but only to a point. A player can “body-check”, or slam into another player who has the puck, or slam the player into the boards around the outside of the rink, as long as he doesn’t hit with the stick held out in front. If he does, he will get a penalty for “cross-checking”. He will have to sit in the penalty box for two minutes while his team plays short-handed, with only five players on the ice. The other team has a power play. The team with a man in the penalty box tries to “kill the penalty” while the other team with the man advantage tries to score. If the team with a power-play scores, then the man in the penalty box is allowed to return to his team’s bench, and both teams play with five attackers again. Occasionally, the team playing with only four skaters (plus the goalie) manages to score, and this is called a “short-handed goal”.

Other penalties include tripping, holding, and elbowing, which are self-explanatory. Hooking is when a player, usually from behind, puts the hook of his stick around the opposing player to hold him back or slow him down. High sticking is when a player hits another player with his stick held high. Slashing is when a player swings his stick at another player. Charging is when one player travels across a distance to board or body check another player. Other penalties are spearing -- stabbing with the blade and butt ending -- hitting with the end of the handle of the stick. All of these are usually minor penalties, or “minors” while more serious instances can result in major penalties of 5 minutes. Fighting is always a major penalty. Even more serious infractions (or breaking of the rules), such dangerously hitting another player with the stick or deliberately trying to cause injury can result in “a game misconduct” – where the player must leave the game. It can even result in a suspension – the player cannot play again for a number of games.

A penalty shot occurs when a penalty, like hooking or tripping, occurs to try stop a player who has gotten past all the defending players and is in the clear with the goalie to stop the shot. All play is stopped; the player who was hooked or tripped picks up the puck at centre ice all alone and skates in on the goalie. A penalty shot has a very good chance of resulting in a goal.

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1) The Basic Game    2) Important Rules    3) Playing the Game

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