Before heading to the ice, why not brush up on the basics. Whether you’re wondering where hockey came from or just what the heck is happening, this section will get you up to speed.
The Players Offense
Center: These are the primary playmakers. Operating up and down the middle of the ice, centers lead their team’s attack by passing the puck between the two wings to set up a goal. Defensively, centers try to keep the play from leaving the attack zone. As the play approaches his/her 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 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.
The Players Defense
Defensemen: The two defensemen try to stop incoming play before any chance of scoring is possible. They block shots and clear the puck from their own net area. 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 shots at the goalie. This player’s challenge is to keep the puck from entering their team’s goal. Goalies can use any piece of equipment or any part of their body to protect the net.
Ice hockey is played on an ice surface known as the rink. A regulation ice rink is 200 ft long x 85 ft wide. Many youth hockey games are played in a rink with smaller dimensions.
A goal net 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.
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. Fun fact: the first hockey pucks were square and carved from hardwood.
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. If 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."
On the ice, teams field six players each, made up of a center, a right and left winger, two defensemen and a goaltender. In addition, teams usually have an additional nine players on the bench who substitute with their on-ice counterparts throughout each game.
Games vary in length, depending upon the age of the players. Intermediate (ages 11-17) teams play games that generally consist of three 15-minute periods with very brief intermissions in between. Younger teams usually 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. Standard regulation games feature three 20-minute periods with 15 minute intermissions.
The referees control the game and ensure all players play by the rules. Sometimes they will call time-out and ask the linesmen for an opinion before making a final decision.
The duty of the linesmen is to determine offsides and icings. They drop the puck for face-offs and chase the puck after stoppage of play. Linesmen can also call certain penalties such as too many players on the ice.
The game begins with a face-off, in which the referee drops the puck in the center circle, and two players face 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.
Offsides: When any member of the attacking team precedes the puck over the defending team's blue line.
Iceing: When a player shoots the puck across the center red line and past the opposing red goal line. Icing is not called if the player's team is killing a penalty, a teammate of the player shooting the puck touches it before a player from the opposing team, the defending goalie touches the puck first or if the puck travels through the crease (semicircle of blue paint at the "mouth" of the goal) on it's way to the red line.
A team plays shorthanded when one or more of its players is charged with a penalty. However, no team is forced to play more than two players below full strength (six) at any tiime. If a third penalty is assessed to the same team, it is suspended until the first penalty expires. When a penalty is called on a goalie, a teammate serves his time in the penalty box.
Minor Penalty: Two minutes - Called for boarding, charging, cross-checking, elbowing, holding, hooking, high-sticking, interference, roughing, slashing, spearing, tripping and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Major Penalty: Five minutes - Called for fighting or when minor penalties are committed with deliberate intent to injure. Major penalties for slashing, spearing, high-sticking, butt-ending and cross-checking carry automatic game misconducts.
Misconduct: Ten minutes - Called for various forms of unsportsmanlike behavior or when a player incurs a second major penalty in a game. This is a penalty against an individual and not a team, so a substitute is permitted.
Penalty Shot: A free shot, unopposed except for the goalie, given to a player who is illegally impeded from behind when in possession of the puck with no opponent between him and the goal except the goalie. The team which commits the offense is not penalized beyond the penalty shot, whether it succeeds or not.
Delayed Penalty: The whistle is delayed until the penalized team regains possession of the puck.
There are 9 faceoff spots on a hockey rink. Most faceoffs take place at these spots. There are two spots in each end zone, two at each end of the neutral zone, and one in the center of the rink.
There are faceoff circles around the center ice and end zone faceoff spots. There are hash marks painted on the ice near the end zone faceoff spots. The circles and hash marks show where players may legally position themselves during a faceoff.
The center faceoff spot is typically blue. The center circle may be red or blue. Usually all other faceoff spots and circles are red.
Called for driving, throwing, checking or tripping an opponent which causes the opponent to be thrown violently into the boards.
Called for running, jumping or charging into an opponent (usually taking more than three strides before impact).
Called when a player delivers a check with both hands on his stick and no part of the stick on the ice.
Called when a player uses his elbow to foul another player.
Called whan a player carries or holds his stick above the normal height of the waist of an Opponent and the stick causes injury to that opponent.
Called whan a player holds an opponent with his hands or stick. Holding the stick is called for, well, holding an opponent's stick.
Called when a player impedes or seeks to impede the progress of an opponent by "hooking" him with his stick.
Called when a player impedes or seeks to impede the progress of an opponent who is not in possession of the puck.
Called for various forms of misconduct including the use of abusive language to any person, challenging an official's ruling, etc. (also given to a player receiving two major penalties in a game).
Called when a player or players are deemed guilty of unnecessary roughness, engaging in fisticuffs and/or shoving.
Called when a player swings his stick at an opponent or impedes or attempts to impede an opponent by slashing with his stick.
Called when a player stabs an opponent with the point of the stick blade while the stick is being carried with one or both hands.
Called when a player places his stick, knee, foot, arm, hand or elbow in such a manner that it causes his opponent to trip or fall.
When signaled by a linesman, it means there is no offsides or icing. The referee will also use this signal to "wave off" a goal.