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Hockey 101

The Origins Of Ice Hockey
Some people say that the origin of ice hockey is unknown, while others claim that the game was a product of Windsor, Nova Scotia in the late 1700s or early 1800s.

Where ever the origins, the game of ice hockey as we know it today can be traced back to 1875 and to a specific person, James George Aylwin Creighton. Creighton is credited as the “Father of Organized Hockey” and was born in Halifax in 1850. Known as “JGA,” he introduced the game to the city of Montreal when he moved there is 1872. 
After getting some sticks sent to him in Montreal from Halifax, Creighton organized the first public game of ice hockey on March 3, 1875. The game was commonly called Ice Hurley as well as Ice Hockey, and used a wooden puck.

The game has evolved after a couple hundred years and is today one of the fastest competitive games around! 

The following is a basic guide to the game of hockey.
The Basics
The purpose of hockey is to get the hockey puck into opposition’s goal while preventing your team’s goal from getting scored on. Each team has six players on the ice at one time. The game is played on a sheet of ice that is 85’ x 200’ and consists of three zones: a defensive, attack and a neutral zone. Like most other sports, ice hockey is a game of territory control that consists of an offensive attack on an opponent while trying to defend your territory.
The attack zone is the area between the opponent’s goal line and the blue line. This is the zone in which your team is trying to score.  

The defensive zone is the area between the goal which your team is defending and the blue line. This is the zone that your team tries to prevent the opponent from scoring in.

The neutral zone is the area of the ice surface between the two blue lines. The blue lines are 12” thick and are the lines that divide the ice surface into the three zones. The blue lines are also the lines used as the determining factors in offsides.

Players in ice hockey use a hockey puck, which is a black, vulcanized rubber disc that is 1-inch thick and 3 inches in diameter, weighing roughly 6 ounces. Pucks are frozen prior to playing to prevent them from excess bouncing and players can shoot a puck up to 110 miles per hour.

When a player shoots the puck into the opposition’s goal in the attack zone, their team is awarded one point, or a goal. The hockey puck must completely clear the red goal line between the goal posts in order for it to be considered a goal.

The red line is also 12” thick and is also called the center ice line as it divides the hockey rink in half. 
A full-strength game consists of six players on the ice at a time for both teams. The players consist of three forwards, which can be narrowed down the center, left wing and right wing, two defensemen and a goalie.
The center is the player that takes the face off and leads the team’s attack when they are trying to score a goal. The center’s main objective is to score a goal or set up a winger or defenseman for a goal.
The left winger and right winger flank the center on face offs and their job is also to score goals and set up the two forwards in the attack zone. Despite their titles, the wingers are not confined specifically to one side of the ice.
There are two players who make up the defense on the ice. Defensemen usually are set up behind the forwards and more than likely will not play deep into the attack zone. The defensemen’s main objective is preventing the opposition from scoring and assisting the goaltender in keeping the puck out of the net. Even though the defensemen’s job is to help prevent the opposition from scoring, they also can contribute on the offensive side. Like the wingers, the defensemen are usually labeled as left defense and right defense, but are not confined to that specific side of the ice.
The last line of defense to the goal is the goaltender. The goaltender’s only job is prevent the opponent from scoring into his team’s goal. The goalie wears different equipment then the forwards and defensemen, specifically more padding and a catching glove. The goalie’s stick is wider to help the goalie stop pucks from penetrating his goal.
The game of ice hockey is moderated by people on the ice called Officials.   The American Hockey League, along with most other professional leagues, use two linesmen and one referee. The National Hockey League uses two linesmen and two referees.  Officials wear black pants with black and white striped shirts. 
The referee is considered the head or chief official on the ice. You can distinguish the referee from the linesmen by an orange arm band. The referee is responsible for calling the majority of penalties and goals, and makes the final decision on any altercation or disputed calls during a game. The referee is also the official who is responsible for making sure that the playing surface is safe and conducive for playing. The referee moves with the flow of play throughout the game and is hardly ever stationary.

The two linesmen on are in charge enforcing off-sides, icings, breaking up altercations and executing the majority of the face-offs throughout the game. Linesmen can also advise or assist the referee on penalties and goals. The linesmen stand on opposite sides of the ice, one around each blue-line, and move with the flow of the play.
General Rules
There are two basic rule infractions in ice hockey.

The most common infraction in ice hockey is offsides. This violation occurs when a player or players from the attacking team cross the opponent’s blue line into the attack zone before the puck crosses over the blue line. The end result of this infraction is play is stopped and a face-off ensues.

Another common violation in ice hockey is icing. An icing occurs when  a team with puck possession shoots the puck from behind the center-ice line across the opponents goal line and a member of the opposing team touches the puck first. The infraction results in a face-off in the team’s defensive zone which committed the icing.

Throughout the course of a typical ice hockey game, players get called for penalties. A penalty is called when a player commits a personal infraction. There are six different kinds of penalties in ice hockey.
The first type of penalty is the most common, a minor penalty. When a minor penalty occurs, the player who commits the infractions receives a two-minute penalty and has to sit in the penalty box. That player’s team then has to play the proceeding two minutes short one skater putting the opponent on a power play. If the opposition scores while on the power play, the player in the penalty box who committed the penalty is released and his team returns to full strength. 
When a player is in the penalty box, his team is considered short handed.  While short handed, a team can ice the puck without icing being called.
 A player can also be assessed a double-minor penalty if the infraction committed results in injury to the opposition. A double minor results in four minutes of penalty time. A double minor counts as two power-play opportunities for the opposition and if they score within the first two minutes of the double minor, the penalty gets reduced to two minutes and another power play proceeds. 
The second kind of penalty infraction is a major penalty. The player committing the major penalty receives five-minutes in the penalty box. If the major penalty results in a power play, the player must remain in the penalty box and the time on the penalty must remain on the scoreboard for the entire five minutes, even if a goal is scored by the opposition.
Another type of penalty is misconduct. A misconduct can result in either a two-minute penalty, which puts the opposition on a power play, or a 10-minute penalty which does not put the opponent on the power play. A player who receives a 10-minute misconduct must sit in the penalty for the entire 10 minutes.
A player or coach can also receive a game-misconduct penalty. If a player receives a game misconduct, they are immediately removed from the game and cannot return. A game misconduct is listed as a 10-minute penalty on a score sheet.
Finally, a bench penalty can also be assessed by the referee or linesman during a game. A bench penalty can result in either a minor, misconduct or game misconduct penalty. 
The following is a list of common penalties called during an ice hockey game along with the signal given by the referee to indicate the penalty: 

is called on a player who body checks, elbows or trips an opponent violently into the boards. A boarding penalty results in a minor penalty but can be called a major penalty as well if the body check causes an injury to the opponent. If a major penalty is determined, the player can be given a game misconduct.


A player is called for a charging penalty when he makes a deliberate move of two strides or more to body check an opponent. A minor penalty is the typical result, but charging can be called a major penalty if the body check causes an injury to the opponent.


A cross-checking penalty is called when a skater holds his stick in both hands and hits an opposing player with the shaft of his stick. A cross-checking penalty results in a minor penalty unless injury occurs or if there is blood drawn, then the penalty is a major penalty. If a major penalty is determined, the player can be given a game misconduct.


An elbowing penalty is called when a player checks an opponent or impedes the progress of the opponent with an elbow. A minor penalty is called unless an injury occurs and then the player committing the elbow gets a major penalty. If a major penalty is determined, the player can be given a game misconduct. 


When a player engages in fisticuffs, a fighting penalty is called. An official fight occurs when a player drops their stick and removes their gloves and throws a punch. A fighting penalty results in a major penalty. If a player instigates a fight with an opponent, the player will receive a minor penalty for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.


A high sticking penalty is called when a player strikes an opposing player with his stick above his shoulders or in a dangerous way. A sticking penalty is a minor penalty, but can be called a double minor or major if injury or bloodshed occurs.  A player can also receive a game misconduct for a major high sticking penalty.


A player is whistled for a holding penalty when he grabs a hold and or impedes the progress of an opposing player with his hand or arm. A holding infraction results in a minor penalty.  A player can also be called for holding the stick is they grab the opposing player’s hockey stick. Holding the stick also results in a minor penalty.



hooking penalty is handed out when a player uses his hockey stick impede the progress or interfere with an opposing player. A minor penalty is called if a player commits a holding penalty.


An interference penalty is called on a player if they impede the progress of a player with their body, set a pick on the opposition or stop the opponent’s forward progress when they do not have the puck. An interference infraction results in a minor penalty.


A player is called for a kneeing penalty when he attempts to body check an opponent but uses his knee to hit the opposition. A kneeing penalty is called a minor penalty unless injury ensues or an attempt to injure the opponent is determined and then a player receives a major penalty and a game misconduct.


A roughing penalty is called on a player if a scrum ensues and there is pushing and shoving between two players. An unnecessary body check can also result in a roughing penalty and the player committing the infraction receives a minor penalty. 


A slashing penalty is called on a player if he swings or chops his hockey stick at an opponent and comes in contact with the opponent’s body or hockey stick. A minor penalty is called on the player committing the infraction, but a major penalty can occur if an injury occurs on the opponent. If a major penalty is determined, the player can be given a game misconduct.


A player receives a major penalty if he is called for a spearing penalty. A spearing penalty is called if a player uses the end of his stick blade to strike an opponent. Spearing is one of the most severe penalties in hockey and is almost always accompanied by a game misconduct.



A tripping penalty is called when a player uses his stick to trip an opponent around his legs or skates. Tripping can also be called if a player uses his leg or skate to knock an opposing player off balance. A tripping infraction is a minor penalty.