Hockey — The Game
Ice hockey is played on a rink, a sheet of ice, which is approximately two-thirds the size of a football field.
The game is played in three periods of equal length; 20 minutes for each period at most levels, but often 12 or 15 minutes in youth classifications.
Physical size is not an important factor in becoming a skilled and successful hockey player. Every player has an opportunity to be a part of the action given the speed of the game, the number of players on a team and the size of the surface upon which the game is played.
The Four Basic Skills of Hockey
Skating is the skill that makes hockey unique and it is something that players of all levels of the sport continually strive to improve. Without adequate skating ability, players are less able to perform the other essential skills of the sport.
Stickhandling allows a skilled player to maneuver around opponents and create better offensive opportunities.
Passing is what makes hockey a true team sport. Passing gets everyone on the ice involved in the action. Helping teammates experience success is what the game is all about, and passing allows the thrill of scoring to be shared.
Shooting is the end result of an offensive team play and is the action that produces a goal.
A team is comprised of a maximum of six players on the ice at any one time (see "penalties").
The goaltender is responsible for guarding the team's goal and preventing the opposing team from scoring.
The primary responsibility of the two defensemen two is to prevent the opposing team from having a good shot at the goal. The defensemen also attempt to gain possession of the puck and pass to teammates to initiate an offensive scoring opportunity.
The primary responsibility of the forwards (three: right wing, center and left wing) is to score. However, forwards also assist the defensemen by back-checking after their team has yielded control of the puck to the opposition.
At higher levels of ice hockey competition, three officials — one referee (identified by an orange arm band) and two linesmen — are utilized. At the youth level, two officials — both of whom are referees — are common. The referee is the ultimate authority during the game and is primarily responsible for calling penalties and determining if goals have been legally scored.
The primary responsibilities of the linesmen include conducting face-offs and determining violations of offside and icing while assisting the referee in enforcing the rules of the game.
The playing rules of hockey are divided into three basic categories:
- Violations that result in a face-off
- Violations that result in a player being awarded a penalty shot
- Violations that result in a player being sent to the penalty box for a specified period of time.
The following is a brief explanation of each type of violation. Naturally, there are technical aspects of each rule that will, at various times, determine whether or not the violation is being called.
Offside â€“ An offensive player may not precede the puck across the blue line into the offensive zone.
Icing â€“ Icing occurs when a player shoots the puck from within his or her own offensive zone across the opponent's goal line. Icing is nullified if: (1) the team shooting the puck is shorthanded; (2) a player from the defending team could have played the puck before it crossed the goal line; or (3) a player from the icing team plays the puck before it crosses the goal line.
A penalty shot is most commonly awarded if:
- A player, while in a scoring position, is fouled from behind and deprived of a scoring opportunity, or
- A defensive player grabs or falls on the puck when it is in the goal crease.
To take a penalty shot, an offensive player takes control of the puck at center ice and tries to score against the opposing goaltender. All other players are removed from the action.