The exciting game of ice hockey is simple to understand once you gain knowledge of some of the basic rules. Some of the essential elements of the game are as follows.

Duration: An Ice Hockey game lasts for 60 minutes (3×20 minute periods). Everytime the referee blows their whistle to stop play (ie. when a goal is scored or a penalty committed) the clock stops. If the scores are level after 60 minutes, we play 5 minutes of sudden death overtime, and then if it’s still level we go to a penalty shoot out.
Between each period is a 15 minute break to allow the ice to be resurfaced (an ideal time to get a hot drink!)

Team numbers: At anyone time, there will be 5 skaters and 1 goalie on the ice for each team. Players tend to swap every 45-60 seconds with teams having around 18 skaters on their bench.

The Ice: There are several lines on an ice hockey rink, splitting it into Zones. These lines are either Red or Blue.

  • The red line across the centre divides the ice into two halves.
  • Two blue lines divide the ice into thirds or zones.
  • The centre zone is called the neutral zone; the others are the attacking zone (the end you are trying to score on) and the defensive zone (the end where your netminder is).
  • The semi-circle around the goal is the crease; attacking players cannot score if they are in the crease deliberately.

Rules: Physical contact is allowed between players contesting for the puck. Rough contact, which could cause injury, is covered by various rules. Most penalties are worth 2 minutes, with more serious offences are worth 5 and some offences can see players ejected from the game.

Icing and Offside: These are the two main stoppages in a game, and are the most confusing for new fans. Icing is when you hit the puck from your half of the ice, and over the far goalline without anyone being able to stop it. This will result in the game restarting in your defensive zone. Offside is when one of yourn players crosses from the Neutral Zone into the Attacking Zone before the puck does.

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