What Is Icing in Hockey

In hockey, “icing” refers to a rule where a player shoots the puck from their side of the center red line down the ice and it crosses the opposing team’s goal line, without being touched by any player from either team. When icing occurs, play is stopped, and a faceoff is held in the defending team’s zone. This rule is designed to prevent teams from simply clearing the puck down the ice to relieve pressure without consequence, promoting more continuous play and competition. However, there are some exceptions to the icing rule, such as during penalty kills or if a team is shorthanded due to a penalty.

Essential Ice Hockey Rules

In addition to icing, there are several other essential rules in ice hockey that players and fans need to be familiar with. These rules govern different aspects of the game and provide structure and fairness to the gameplay. Let’s take a look at some of these key rules:


Ice hockey has a penalty system in place to deter players from engaging in actions that violate the rules of the game. There are three main types of penalties: minor, major, and misconduct. Minor penalties result in a player serving two minutes in the penalty box, major penalties require a player to serve five minutes in the penalty box, and misconduct penalties can lead to a player being removed from the game. These penalties help maintain discipline and fair play on the ice.


Faceoffs are an integral part of ice hockey and occur at various points throughout a game. During a faceoff, players from opposing teams line up in designated positions around faceoff circles, and only two players from each team are allowed inside the circle. The objective of a faceoff is to gain possession of the puck and continue play.

Delay of Game

Actions that deliberately delay the game can result in a penalty. For example, shooting or batting the puck outside the playing area or displacing the goal from its normal position can lead to a two-minute minor penalty for delay of game. This rule ensures that the game flows smoothly and prevents teams from intentionally slowing down the pace of play.

Offside Rule

The offside rule is crucial to maintaining fairness and preventing teams from gaining an unfair advantage. According to this rule, a team is considered offside if any attacking player precedes the puck over the defending team’s blue line. Players must ensure they have the proper positioning on the ice to comply with this rule and avoid offside infractions.

Comparison of Penalties

Type of Penalty Duration Consequences
Minor 2 minutes Player serves time in the penalty box, team plays shorthanded
Major 5 minutes Player serves time in the penalty box, team plays shorthanded
Misconduct Varies Player can be removed from the game

Understanding these essential ice hockey rules is vital for both players and fans to fully grasp the dynamics of the game and appreciate the strategy and skill involved. By adhering to these rules, players can compete fairly, and fans can enjoy the excitement of a well-regulated and thrilling sport.

Penalties in Ice Hockey

Penalties play a significant role in ice hockey. Player actions that violate the rules of the game can result in penalties at the discretion of the officials. Penalties are classified into three categories: minor, major, and misconduct.

Minor penalties require players to serve two minutes in the penalty box while their team plays short-handed. A minor penalty expires if the opposing team scores while on the power play.

Major penalties require players to serve five minutes in the penalty box and only expire at the end of that time.

Misconduct penalties vary in length and can result in the player being removed from the game.

It is essential for players and fans to be familiar with these penalty rules in order to understand the consequences of certain actions on the ice.

Types of Penalties in Ice Hockey

Offsides in Ice Hockey

Offsides is an important rule in ice hockey that determines the proper positioning of teams on the ice. It involves the attacking team, the defending team, and the offside rule.

In ice hockey, a team is considered offside when any member of the attacking team precedes the puck over the defending team’s blue line. It is the position of the player’s skate, rather than their stick, that determines whether they are offside or onside.

If both skates of the attacking player cross the blue line before the puck, the player is offside. However, if they have one skate over the blue line and one on it, they are considered onside. This rule ensures fair play and prevents the attacking team from gaining an unfair advantage by entering the defending zone too soon.

When an offside infraction occurs, play is stopped, and a faceoff takes place at the spot where the offside occurred. This allows both teams to reset and continue the game from a fair position. The faceoff serves as a neutral restart point after the offside violation.

Understanding the offsides rule is crucial for players to maintain the proper positioning on the ice. It ensures that teams adhere to the principles of fair play and follow the flow of the game. For fans, knowing the offsides rule enriches their understanding of the game and enables them to better appreciate the strategies and tactics employed by both teams.

ice hockey offsides

Note: The image above illustrates a typical offside situation in ice hockey.

Attacking Team Defending Team
Member of the attacking team crosses the defending team’s blue line before the puck. The defending team takes up defensive positions to prevent the attacking team from scoring.
The attacking team is considered offside. The defending team benefits from the offside violation and gains the opportunity to restart play from a more advantageous position.

Overtime and Shootouts in Ice Hockey

In ice hockey, regular-season games that end in a tie score after regulation play go into a five-minute sudden-death overtime period. If the game remains tied at the end of overtime, a shootout is used to determine the winner. During the shootout, each team is allowed three attempts to score in alternating fashion. If the teams remain tied after three attempts, the shootout continues in an alternating format until one team fails to match the attempt of the other. The team that wins the shootout is awarded one goal. In playoff games, there are no shootouts, and overtime periods are 20 minutes in length. Understanding how overtime and shootouts work is important for both players and fans, as they can significantly impact the outcome of a game.

ice hockey overtime

Overtime Period Regular Season Playoffs
Sudden-Death Overtime 5 minutes 20 minutes
Shootout Yes No

Do Hockey and Lacrosse Have Similar Rules for Icing?

In hockey, icing occurs when a player shoots the puck from their own half of the ice across the opposing team’s goal line. In lacrosse, there is no icing rule. Another difference is that hockey teams have six players on the ice, while the number of lacrosse players is ten.

History and Variations of Icing Rule

The icing rule in hockey has a rich history that dates back to the 1930s. It was introduced to prevent teams from using delaying tactics to protect a winning margin. Since its inception, the rule has undergone amendments and variations to ensure fair play and maintain the pace of the game.

There are three main variations of the icing rule: touch icing, no-touch icing, and hybrid icing. In touch icing, a player from the opposing team must physically touch the puck to cause the stoppage of play. On the other hand, no-touch icing stops play immediately when the puck crosses the goal line without any player making contact. Hybrid icing, which is widely adopted in professional leagues like the NHL, stops play for icing if the player from the opposing team reaches the faceoff dot first, eliminating the need to skate all the way across the goal line to touch the puck.

The implementation of different variations of the icing rule is driven by the desire to balance player safety, fair competition, and game flow. By understanding the history and variations of the icing rule, players and fans can gain a deeper knowledge of the game and better appreciate its intricacies and strategic elements.

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