Hockey rules for dummies

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Hockey rules

Winter season is here and that means we will be seeing a lot of “shinny” games on TV, and maybe your friends will call you to play on a frozen lake too. You need to know the basic regulations of the game in order to both watch or play it. Although it may seem simple, one needs to study the rules thoroughly not to be confused. In this article, we will explain the regulations of this popular ice sport and the history behind their changes throughout time, so that you and your kids can enjoy watching or taking part in it.

What are the rules of ice hockey?

Some basic regulations are:

division of the hockey field


      • The aim of the game is to score the most points by getting the puck in the opponent’s gates.

      • The usual teams consist of no more than 20 sportsmen: 5 players and one goalie on the ice, as well as 14 players on the bench.

      • The game lasts 60 minutes without overtime.

      • Shots above the waist are prohibited in all instances, both during the game and warmups.

      • Another notable rule is that no-one is allowed on ice without skates and protective gear.

      • The ice is divided into 3 zones (defending, neutral, and attacking) by blue lines. A red line divides the rink in the middle.

      • If a player is ahead of the puck in the defending zone, they are called offside.

      • If the game ends in a tie, an overtime 5 minutes sudden death round is played in order to determine the winner. This makes up the rules of overtime in hockey.

      • Players are allowed to physically interact with each other from the sides and the front, however, if a player tries to interfere with their opponent from the back, this decision will be punished.

      • The game is controlled by the referee, linesmen, and goal judges.

      • The penalties vary depending on the severity of the rule breaking. A player can be sent off for 2+ minutes or, in some cases, permanently.

      • No icing (shooting a goal all the way across the rink) is allowed.

    Hockey rules changes    

    The regulations stated above have not always been the same. The game has been known in different forms for centuries, which means the way it is played and the equipment that is used has evolved. Here is the summary of the most important changes:

    Players had no protective gear.Players are obliged to wear helmets and shields.The first goalie to wear protection during the game was George Merritt in 1896.
    The puck was made from wood.The puck is manufactured from vulcanized rubber.The modern pucks were invented in the 1880s.
    Penalized players were not replaced.Anyone who is penalized is replaced for the period of the penalty.With time the coaches understood that having less players on ice gives them a disadvantage.
    The game consisted of two 30 min periods with a 10-min break.According to the hockey basic rules and regulations, the game consists of three 20 min parts with intermissions.The official change occurred in 1910.
    Goal umpires were responsible for fixing a goal and had to ring a bell each time.The goal is counted by the referee and the goal judges.The goal judges were first used in 1877, with a slight change in the 1900s.
    After a goal, the ends of ice ring were changed.The teams switch sides at the end of each period.The major change to the old rule came in the 1990s.
    The players used to not ever be replaced, when the game only started gaining popularity.The hockey line change rules are strict, the change occurs after a stoppage and the players only have 5 seconds to perform it.The newest change occurred in 2002.

    Now that you are familiar with all the basic regulations of this great game, grab your sticks and pucks and have fun with your friends on a rink!
    Also, you will be interested to read about Arizona coyotes logo history and curling game rules.

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