Types of Penalties:

Minor Penalty Any player, other than a goaltender, shall be ruled off the ice for two minutes during which time no substitute shall be permitted. If the shorthanded team is scored upon before the two minutes elapse, the player in the penalty box is automatically released.

Major Penalty Any player, except the goaltender, shall be ruled off the ice for four or five minutes during which time no substitute shall be permitted. The player who is serving the major penalty must stay in the penalty box for the full five, regardless if a goal is scored upon their “shorthanded” team.

Goaltender’s Penalties A goaltender shall not be sent to the penalty box for an infraction, but instead the minor penalty shall be served by another member of his team, who was on the ice when the infraction was committed.

Penalty shot No time served. Awarded for a player being fouled from behind and denied a breakaway scoring opportunity. Also called for deliberately displacing the goal post during a breakaway, or can be called when a defending player other than the goalie intentionally falls on the puck, ususually around the defensive net area.

Coincidental minor and/or major penalties result when players of two opposing teams are simultaneously assessed penalties of equal duration. In this case, the players may be substituted for, but all penalized players must serve their full time in the penalty box and wait for a stoppage of play to come out of the box. Generally, the timekeeper will not post these penalties on the scoreboard and the players will be required to stay in the box for the amount of time assessed and until “the next whistle”.

Misconduct Penalty Any player, other than the goaltender, shall be ruled off the ice for a period of ten minutes. A substitute player is permitted to immediately replace a player serving a misconduct penalty. A player whose misconduct penalty has expired shall remain in the penalty box until the next stoppage of play. These penalties are often called in tandem with a minor penalty and you may hear it referred to as a “Two and ten”. What this means is that the player has committed a foul such as Checking from Behind and his/her team must play shorthanded for 2 minutes but the offending player must then also stay off the ice for an additional 10 minutes. Generally, a team will put two players in the penalty box with one coming out after two minutes.

Match Penalty A match penalty involves the suspension of a player for the balance of the game and the offender shall be ordered to the dressing room immediately. A substitute player is permitted to replace the penalized player after five minutes of playing time has elapsed.

Game Misconduct A penalty that involves the suspension of a player for the balance of the game. A substitute is immediately permitted to take his place on the ice.

Checking (shoving) an opponent so that he is thrown violently against the boards.

Official Signal: Pounding the closed fist of the non-whistle hand into the open palm of the other hand.





Taking more than three skating strides prior to checking an opponent.

Official Signal: Rotating clenched fists around one another in front of chest.





Checking from Behind
Checking or hitting an opponent whose back is facing you, often into the boards.

Official Signal: Non-whistle arm placed behind the back, elbow bent, forearm parallel to the ice surface.






Hitting an opponent with both hands on the stick and no part of the stick on the ice.

Official Signal: A forward motion with both fists clenched extending from the chest.





Delayed Penalty
When a referee signals that he is about to penalize a player, but will not stop play until the team to be penalized touches the puck.

Official Signal: The non-whistle hand is extended straight above the head.






Using an elbow in any way to foul an opponent.

Official Signal: Tapping the elbow of the whistle hand with the opposite hand.





Hand Pass
Called when a player uses his hand to direct the puck to another player from the same team in the offensive or neutral zone. Hand passes are allowed in the defensive zone.

Official Signal: The non-whistle hand (open hand) and arm are placed straight down alongside the body and swung forward and up once in an underhand motion.




High Sticking
Striking your opponent while carrying the stick above shoulder level.

Official Signal: Holding both fists, clenched, one immediately above the other, at the side of the head.





Holding an opponent from moving with hands or stick or any other way.

Official Signal: Clasping the wrist of the whistle hand well in front of the chest.





“Hooking” a stick aroung an opponent to try to block his progress.

Official Signal: A tugging motion with both arms, as if pulling something toward the stomach.





Intentionally shooting the puck from behind the center red line over your opponent’s goal line. Not technically a penalty, icing results in a faceoff in the offending team’s zone.

Official Signal: The instant that the conditions required to establish “icing the puck” have occurred, the referee will blow his whistle to stop play, and raise his non-whistle hand over his head. The back official will move to the resulting face-off spot and give the icing signal.




Illegal body contact with an opponent who is not in possession of the puck, or knocking an opponent’s fallen stick out of his reach.

Official Signal: Crossed arms stationary in front of chest with fists closed.





Penalty Shot
When an attacking player has been clearly pulled down preventing a breakaway shot on the goalie.

Official Signal: Crossed arms stationary in front of chest with fists closed.






Hitting an opposing player with the stick or swinging the stick at an opposing player.

Official Signal: One chop with the non-whistle hand across the straightened forearm of the other hand.






Stabbing an opponent with the point of the stick blade while the stick is being carried in one or both hands.

Official Signal: A single jabbing motion with both hands together, thrust forward from in front of the chest, then dropping hands to the side.





Using a stick, knee, foot, arm, hand, or elbow to cause an opponet to trip or fall.

Official Signal: Strike the side of the knee (non-whistle side) and follow through once, keeping the head up and both skates on the ice.




When used by a referee it means the goal does not count; when used by a linesman, it means there is no icing or off-sides.

Official Signal: Both arms swung laterally across the body at shoulder level with palms down.






Back Check
To hinder an opponent heading toward and into the defending zone.

Blue Lines
The two one-foot wide blue lines which extend across the ice at a distance of 60 feet from each goal. These lines break up the ice into attacking (offensive), neutral and defending zones.

Body Check
Use of the body on an opponent. It is legal when the opponent has possession of the puck or was the last player to have touched it.

To hit an opponent with the end of the stick farthest from the blade. It is illegal and results in a penalty.

The area directly in front of the goaltender. It is four feet wide and eight feet long and marked off by red lines and is painted light blue. Offensive players who do not have possession of the puck may not enter.

To fake an opponent out of position.

The dropping of the puck between one player from each team to start or resume play.

To check an opponent in his end of the rink, preventing an offensive rush.

Freezing the puck
To hold the puck against the boards with either the stick or skate to get a stoppage of play.

Goal Line
The red line which runs between the goal posts and extends in both directions to the side boards.

Goal Mouth
The area just in front of the goal and crease lines.

Hat Trick
The scoring of three or more goals by a player in one game. A natural hat trick occurs when a player scores three consecutive goals.

Shooting the puck directly after receiving a pass. The offensive player starts his backswing while the puck is on its way to him and tries to time his swing with the arrival of the puck.

Penalty Box
The area opposite the team benches where penalized players serve time.

Power Play
A power play occurs when a team has a one- or two-man advantage because of the opponent’s penalties.

Pulling the goalie
When one team replaces its goaltender with an extra skater. This can occur when a team trails, usually by one goal, in the final minutes of a game. It is a high-risk attempt to tie the game.

A shot blocked by the goaltender, which would have been a goal if not stopped.

Screened Shot
Occurs when a goaltender’s view is blocked by players between him and the shooter.

Slap Shot
Hitting the puck with the blade of the stick after taking a full backswing.

A prime scoring area located between the faceoff circles and in front of the goal.

Splitting the Defense
The player with the puck attempts to squeeze between the opponent’s defensemen.

Stick Handling
To control the puck along the ice.

Top Shelf
Term used to describe when an offensive player shoots high in an attempt to beat the goaltender by putting the puck in the top part of the net. Or as Sabres’ announcer Rick Jeanneret says, ” … the top shelf, where momma hides the cookies.”

Wraparound goal
When a player skates from one side to the other of the goal, from behind the goal, and tucks the puck into the other side of the goal before the goaltender recovers to be in position.


Ice hockey is an adaptation of the Native American game of lacrosse. In fact, many of the first rules were borrowed directly from the game, and changes for action on ice.

The first formal game was recorded in Kingston, Ontario in 1855. Twenty years later, students of Montreal’s McGill University (credited for much of the game’s early development), imposed a code of conduct familiarly known as the McGill Rules. Many of those same principles govern the game today.

In 1885, Canada’s first national hockey association was formed, with teams quickly influencing their neighbors to the south. By 1896, teams were competing in the New York area, with the first game between the U.S. and Canada played by 1899.

The first professional league, called the National Hockey Association, formed in 1909. The four original teams from that league (Toronto, Ottawa and two from Montreal) were among the first to play under the auspices of the new NHL in 1917.


Center: Most like football quarterbacks in regard to playmaking ability. Operating up and down the middle of the ice, Centers lead their team’s attack by passing the puck between his two wings to set up a goal. Defensively, he tries to keep the play from leaving the attack zone. As the play approaches his own goal, it’s the center’s job to hustle and break up the opposing team’s plays.

Wings: You can’t fly with just one. These guys follow the action up and down the rink on either side of the center. Left and right side wings pass back and forth, trying to position themselves for a shot on goal. Defensively, they guard the opponent’s wings and attempt to disrupt them.

Defensemen: The two defensemen try to stop incoming play before any chance of scoring is possible. They block shots, clear the puck from their own net area and entertain the opposing team’s forwards with body shots and ridicule. Offensively, they move the puck up the ice and pass to the forwards, then follow play into the attack zone.

Goaltender: As the last line of defense, everyone takes a shot at the goalie. This player’s challenge is to keep the puck from entering his team’s goal. Goalies can use any piece of equipment or any part of his body (even the head) to protect his net.


The Rink
Ice hockey is played on an ice surface known as the rink. A regulation ice rink is 200 ft long x 85 ft wide.

The Goals
A goal net, or cage, is 6 ft wide x 4 ft high. It is designed so that the pucks entering the net will stay in, though shots will occasionally rebound off a back post and carom out. The goal line itself is 2 inches wide.

The Puck
Made of vulcanized rubber. It is 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. It weighs about 6 ounces, and is often frozen before games to make it slide and not bounce.

Scoring a goal is the object of the game. It is not necessary to shoot the puck into the netting behind the goalie to score. It the entire puck crosses the goal line inside the posts, it is a goal unless:

1. An attacking player kicks the puck, throws the puck or otherwise deliberately directs the puck into the goal by means other than the stick.
2. An attacking player is in the goal crease, and is in no way held by a defender, while a teammate “scores”.

While a goal does not count if an attacker kicks it in, if that same attacker kicks it in off a defender other than the goalie, it does count. In this case, the kicker is credited with the goal. On the other hand, if a shot is deflected in off a teammate, the teammate gets credit for the goal, and the shooter gets an assist.

The Teams
Six players each, made up of a center, a right and left winger, two defensemen and a goaltender.

The Time
Youth Games vary in length, depending upon the age of the players. Midget, Bantam and Peewee teams play games that consist of three 15 minute periods with very brief intermissions in between. Squirts and Mites play 12 minute periods. Often in tournament play, due to the large number of games to be played, all teams will play 12 minute periods to help speed along the play.

The referee controls the game. He calls all of the penalties and must decide the legality of goals. Sometimes he will call time-out and ask the linesmen for an opinion before he makes a final decision.

The duty of the linesman is to determine offsides and icings. They drop the puck for face-offs and chase the puck after stoppage of play. It is also the linesmen’s unenviable job to break up fights while the referee assesses the penalties.

Starting Play
The game begins with a face-off, in which the referee drops the puck in the center circle, and two players facing each other in an attempt to gain control of the puck. Face-offs at different locations on the ice are used to restart the play throughout the game.