Common Hockey Rules

Once you understand a few fundamental rules and practices, the world’s best and most entertaining game becomes simple to follow. Here’s a quick rundown of the most important ice hockey regulations!

Putting my hand on the puck and closing it

Any player that catches a puck, excluding the goalkeeper, must immediately knock or place it back on the ice. A two-minute minor will be imposed for any breach of this rule.


All players take up positions around one of five faceoff circles on the rink. During the faceoff, only two players are permitted inside the circle. The cause of the last play stoppage determines the location of the faceoff.

Delay in the game

A two-minute minor penalty for game delay will be applied to the following actions:

Shooting or hitting the puck outside of the playing area on purpose
Displacement of the goal from its regular location on purpose
After receiving a warning from an official, failing to supply the correct number of players on the ice surface, or making an unlawful substitute
Using a high-stick to play the puck
Play will be stopped, and a faceoff will be held if an opponent bats a puck out of the air with a stick higher than shoulder height. A goal scored by a puck that collided with a higher post than the goal crossbar is disallowed.

Putting ice on the puck

When a player on his team’s side of the red goal line shoots the puck down the ice and crosses the red goal line at any point, it is called icing (other than the goal). When teams are at equal strength or on the power play, icing is not permitted. Play is halted, and the puck is returned to the opposite end of the ice for a faceoff in the offending team’s zone. The process of icing the puck is not known as:

Even if the goaltender does not touch the puck, he exits the crease to play the puck.
If an official decides that an opposition player might have played the puck before it passed the red goal line,
If an officer believes an attempted pass, he may waive the icing call.
Any attacking team member who precedes the puck over the defensive team’s blueline is considered offside. The location of the player’s skate, not his stick, determines the outcome. If both skates are above the blue line before the puck, the player is offside. He’s onside if he only has one skate over the blue line and one on it.


A five-minute sudden-death extra session will be played if a regular-season game concludes with a tie score. If the game is still tied after the end of overtime, a shootout will decide the game. There will be no shootouts in the playoffs, and extra sessions will be 20 minutes long.


At the discretion of the referees, players who break the game’s rules may be penalized. There are three types of penalties: minor, major, and misconduct. Players must serve two minutes in the penalty box for a minor penalty while their side is short-handed. Little harm will be done if the other team scores on the power play. A player must spend five minutes in the penalty box for a major disadvantage, which only expires after that period. Penalties for misbehavior vary in length.

Shots from the penalty box

A penalty shot is given when a player is pushed down from behind on a breakaway scoring opportunity or when the net is purposefully disturbed by an opposition goalkeeper or defenseman.

Playing with power

Because one player is serving a penalty, one side has more players on the ice than the other.


A shootout will be held if a regular-season game ends in a draw after overtime. A shootout is a series of penalty shots in which each side is given three alternate chances to score. If the teams are still tied after three tries, the shootout will continue with alternating shots until one team fails to equal the other’s effort. One goal will be awarded to the winner of the shootout.