How to Play Hockey

How To Hockey - Part 1

By Kyle MacKenzie

"The good ol’ hockey game, the best game you can name…"Stompin’ Tom

Hockey is a team sport played on a large surface of ice. Players wear ice skates with sharp blades that glide smoothly along the ice surface. Sticks in hand, player’s battle to put the puck past the goalie into the opposing teams’ net.

Each team has anywhere from 12 to 30+ players with at least one designated goalie. Players are designated as either defensive or offensive players. Each team has three forwards on the ice, a center, right wing and left wing, two defensive players and a goalie. That is unless a team is shorthanded because of a penalty.

The Hockey Rink

A typical hockey rink

Middle Circle:

Where face-offs are taken at the start of each period and after a goal is scored.

Centre Line:

The red-dotted line in the middle of the rink.

Blue Lines:

Lines that create each teams zone. The space between the blue lines, in the center, is called the ‘neutral zone’. If a player crosses the blue line into the opposing teams zone before the puck, the referee will call offside and play will be stopped.

Blue Line Dots:

Mainly for offside, puck out of bounds and penalty face-offs.

Zone circles:

Where face-offs take place after the goalie freezes the puck, an icing call, puck out of bounds, penalties, etc.

The Goal Line:

The puck must go past the goal line into the net to be considered a goal. Also if a player shoots the puck past the centre line and goal line on the opposing side, the referee will call icing, play will stop and the puck will be brought back to the shooters end.

Equipment Head-to-Toe

  • Helmet and Mask – To protect your head!
  • Mouth Guard – To protect those pearly whites!
  • Neck Guard – To protect your neck and throat
  • Shoulder Pads – To protect your shoulders and chest
  • Elbow Pads – To protect you elbows from the hard ice!
  • Gloves – Padded gloves to protect your wrists and fingers
  • Hockey Pants – Padded pants to protect your upper legs and bum
  • Jock/Jill – A very important piece of equipment, protects your groin area.
  • Garter Belt – Used to hold up your socks
  • Shin Pads – Protect your knees and shins
  • Socks – Covers your shin pads
  • Skates – Protects your feet and gets you around on the ice!
  • Stick – A left or right-handed stick used to stickhandle, pass and shoot the puck.


Minor Penalties

When any player, except the goalie, is ruled off the ice for two or four minutes after illegal contact with another player or any other misconduct (a player sits off if a goalie is penalized). If the shorthanded team is scored on, the penalized player is allowed back on the ice.

Major Penalties

Five minute majors are given after fights. If a goal is scored against the shorthanded team, the play must remain in the penalty box.

Penalty Shot

Awarded to a player if they are illegally contacted while on a breakaway or during a legitimate chance to score. A player starts at center ice with the puck, skates toward the net and tries to put it past the goalie into the net.

Misconduct Penalties

Occur when a player is overly aggressive toward the opposing team. A player can also be given a misconduct penalty if they attack the referee verbally or physically.

Types of Penalties

  • Boarding - When a player hits another player violently against the boards
  • Charging - Lining a player up from a distance and then hitting them
  • Cross-Checking – Hitting another player with two hands on your stick, using the stick as a weapon
  • Delayed Penalty - When a team purposely tries to run the clock, by holding the puck or intentionally shooting it out of bounds
  • Elbowing – Hitting another player bluntly with an elbow
  • Hand Pass – When a player uses a hand to pass the puck to a teammate
  • High Sticking – When a player’s stick strikes an opposing player above their shoulders
  • Hitting from behind - When a player hits another player illegally from behind
  • Holding – When a player illegally holds an opposing player
  • Hooking – When a player hooks their stick around an opposing player
  • Interference – When a player illegally contacts a play that does not have possession of the puck. Also called when a player interferes with the opposing goalie
  • Slashing – When a player uses their stick to hit an opposing player
  • Spearing – Hitting an opponent illegally with the players stick or body
  • Tripping – When a player intentionally trips an opposing player

Structure of the Game

Generally there are three, twenty-minute periods in a standard hockey game. If the score is tied at the end of the third, there may be over-time periods or a shootout to decide the winner. When a team scores a goal, they are awarded one point. The player who scored is rewarded with a goal, and the players who passed the puck to set up the goal are awarded with assists. The team with the most goals at the end of the game is declared the winner.

Free Hockey Team Website
Quick Setup. Easy to Use
Schedules, Statistics, Photos

That, my friends, is the How-To Hockey basics. Strap up those skates, put on those pads, and always remember, keep your head up, stick on the ice, and always have fun!

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