Ice hockey may look a little bit frantic, but the rules themselves are pretty simple.
Let us explain them to you with a bit of help from a few simple illustrations...
A game is divided into three, 20-minute periods of actual playing time, with two 15 minute intervals. When the whistle is blown the clock stops.
6 players from each team are on the ice at any one time. The lineup being: 1 goalie, 2 defencemen and 3 forwards.
As the game is played at speed, players can be substituted at any time - even as the game is in progress. This is called a line change. The goalie will usually remain unchanged throughout the game but it is quite common for him to be substituted for a skating player in the last seconds of a game, leaving an empty net.
All 6 players remain on the ice in a risk-all effort to score.
Play begins with a face-off when the referee drops the puck in the centre circle between the sticks of the two forwards. The puck is circular, made of solid vulcanised rubber, is 7.62 cm (3”) in diameter, 2.54cm (1”) thick and weighs 143 grams (5½ ounces).
A player may stop the puck with hand, body or skate at any time in any position. The puck must not be pushed forward except by a skate or stick.
The playing surface is divided by blue lines into 3 zones, defence, neutral and attacking zones; each is a third of the playing area. An attacking player may only enter the attacking zone behind the puck or puck-carrier. A pass cannot be made to an attacker from a teammate who is outside the attacking zone. This is deemed as offside, the whistle will be blown and the game restarted by a face-off.
Players are penalised for infringements of the rules by being sent off the ice for two or more minutes according to the severity of the offence. The net minder does not serve his own penalties but a teammate must sit in the penalty box in his place for most penalties given against him.
The refereee calls a penalty by raising his arm until the offending team takes possession of the puck. Offences elbowing, boarding, tripping, crosschecking, high sticks, interference, roughing and spearing.
A goal is scored when the puck enters the net or crosses the goal line via a players’ stick. If the puck is kicked or thrown into the net there is no goal. Goal judges sit behind each goal and switch on an orange or red light when a goal is scored. Players face-off to restart the game.
Ice Hockey players are well padded. Helmet, knee pads, shin, hip, elbow and shoulder guards and thick gauntlet type gloves, all provide more than adequte protection, although injuries are still common. Stockings fit over the knee pads with padded shorts, jerseys in team colours and, of course, skates complete the uniform.
Sort of. You will pick up a few nuances from the sport the more you watch. So grab yourself a game ticket and take your seat every week to find out everything this great sport has to offer!