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  • Writer's pictureUnofficial Bighorns Blog

Hockey 101: Basic Hockey Rules (Part 2)

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

At its heart, hockey is a captivating dance of strategy, speed, and skill. But to truly appreciate its beauty, understanding its rules is key:


The Objective


At the simplest level, teams aim to score more goals than their opponents. This is achieved by shooting a puck into the opponent’s net. The rink is divided into offensive, neutral, and defensive zones, influencing play strategies and player movements. If a rule is broken, the ref blows his whistle, pauses play and makes a call.



Icing and Offsides


What is the icing rule in hockey? Icing occurs when a player shoots the puck from their side of the red line and crosses the opposing team's goal line without being touched. When this happens, the puck is reset to the other end of the rink for a face-off.


What is offside in hockey? A play is offside if an attacking player's skate enters the offensive zone before the puck, but won't be called if it's only his stick.


Both rules are in place to ensure fair play and prevent teams from gaining an undue advantage.



Penalties In Hockey


Hockey is a contact sport, but certain actions are deemed illegal. Penalties are given at the discretion of the refs and will get the player either a 2-minute timeout for a minor or 5-minute timeout for a major penalty. If the misconduct is deemed to severe for the penalty box, the ref may decide to eject the player from the game altogether. Common penalties include:

  • Tripping: Using the stick, knee, foot, arm, hand, or elbow to cause an opponent to fall.

  • Hooking: Impeding a player by “hooking” him with one's stick.

Penalties usually result in the offending player spending time in the penalty box, giving the opposing team a player advantage.

  • Periods and Overtime: A standard game comprises three 20-minute periods. Teams might head into overtime if the score is tied – a shorter, sudden-death period. If the tie persists, a shootout decides the winner.

  • Shootouts: Here, players take turns taking shots at the opposing goalie. The team with the most goals after a set number of rounds emerges victorious. It's a heart-pounding finale, showcasing skill under pressure.


Hockey Power Plays


What's a power play in hockey? If a player is sent into the penalty box (usually for 2 or 5 minutes, depending on the penalty), their team now has to play with one less. This is a Power Play for the stronger team. As many as two players can be in simultaneous penalties.


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