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Ice Hockey: Fouls (Page 4 of 5)

1- History & Object
2- The Essentials (Offense & Defense, Scoring, Etc.)
3- Rink Diagram and Positions
4- Fouls
5- Glossary of Hockey Terms


Hockey is a contact sport and hard physical contact is commonplace. Penalties are usually called for unfairly impeding the progress on an opponent or if a play was dangerous. Examples of impeding progress include: hooking (using stick to hold), interference (checking opponent without the puck), tripping, and holding. Examples of dangerous plays include: slashing (swinging the stick), spearing (jabbing with stick), boarding (hitting into boards), cross checking (hitting with hands spread on stick), and roughing (excessive pushing or hitting).

When a penalty is committed, the offending player must serve a time penalty in the penalty box and the team plays shorthanded. When this occurs, the fouled team is on a power play and the probability of scoring greatly increases. The defense is on a penalty kill and tries to delay the game until the penalty ends. The length of the penalty depends on the severity of the foul. For less severe fouls, a minor penalty is assessed and the offender must serve two minutes in the penalty box, or until a goal is scored, whichever occurs first. For more severe penalties, a major penalty is assessed and the offender must serve five minutes in the box, regardless if a goal is scored. Referees use a “slow whistle” and do not call penalties until the team that committed the foul gains possession, so as not to take away any advantage of the fouled team.

Two confusing infractions that are called frequently are offsides and icing. Offisides is called to prevent unfair breakaway goals. A simplified explanation is that whenever advancing the puck to into the attacking zone (the opponent’s defensive zone), the puck must cross the blue line before the player; players may not pass to a teammate in the attacking zone from the other zones. A face-off in the neutral zone restarts play. Icing is called to prevent the defense from unnecessarily delaying the game. It occurs when the puck is shot from behind the center line, over the opponent’s goal line. Some leagues call icing as soon as the puck crosses the goal line, while others (NHL) only call icing if the opponent touches the puck first (not called if the goalie touches the puck). Also, icing is not called during a penalty kill. A face off back in the offender’s defensive zone is used to restart play after icing calls.

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