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Hockey Rules

General Rules of the Game

The playing rules of hockey are divided into three basic categories.   The following is a brief explanation of each category, or type, of violation.  Naturally, there are technical aspects of each rule that will, at various times, determine whether or not the violation is called.


  1. Violations that result in a face-off
  2. Violations that result in a player being awarded a penalty shot
  3. Violations that result in a player being sent to the penalty box for a specified period of time

Common Face-off Infractions

Off-Sides - An offensive player may not precede the puck across the blue line into the offensive zone.


Off-Sides Pass - The puck may not be passed from a team's defensive zone to a player of the same team who is beyond the center red line (applies only to Junior B and above).


Icing - A team, when both teams have an equal number of players on the ice, may not shoot the puck from behind the center red line over their opponent's goal line (except if the puck goes into the goal) 

Common Penalty Shot Infractions

A penalty shot is most commonly awarded if:

  1. A player, while in a scoring position, is fouled from behind and deprived of a scoring opportunity
  2. A defensive player grabs or falls on the puck when it is in their 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. 

Common Penalties

For the following penalties, the penalized team must play minus the number of players serving such penalties, with one exception: the penalized team can have no fewer than four players, including the goaltender, on the ice:


  • Minor Penalty - Two minutes.  If a team is scored upon while they are shorthanded because of a minor penalty, the penalty shall terminate immediately.
  • Major Penalty - Five minutes.  Does not terminate early for any reason.  Player must server the entire 5 minutes or the remaining minutes in a game if less then 5 minutes.
  • Match Penalty - Five or ten minutes, depending upon the violation, and is served by a teammate.  If assessed a match penalty, the offending player is ejected for the balance of the game and may not play in future games until the case has been reviewed by league administrators.

For the following penalties, the team will replace the penalized player on the ice immediately:


  • Misconduct - Ten minutes.  Served in the penalty box by the player receiving the infraction.
  • Game Misconduct  - Ejection for the balance of the game and the player or coach will serve an additional one game suspension.
  • Gross Misconduct - Ejection for the balance of the game and the player may not participate in any future games until the case has been reviewed by league administrators.


 Hockey Referee Signals


Delayed calling of penalty or other violation.  Arm extended fully above head (hand without whistle).

Referee points into the net.


Flat part of hand patted on head.


Arms crossed above head, giving signal of stoppage in play.

Clasping either wrist with the other hand in front of the chest.


A chopping motion with the edge of one hand across the opposite forearm.


Fist clenched and arm extended out of the side of the body.

A forward motion with both fists clenched extending from the chest.


Rotating clenched fists around one another in front of the chest.


A jabbing motion with both hands thrust out directly in front of the body.


Crossed arms with closed fists stationary in front of the chest.

No goal or no icing.

The back referee of linesman signals a possible icing by fully extending his arm without the whistle over his head.  The front referee or linesman indicates the icing is completed by extending his arm over his head.  The back referee or linesman will then blow his whistle and skate to the face the spot.  When he is standing on the face-off spot, he extends his arms to indicate the icing.

A forward motion of both arms, with the palms of the hands open and facing away from the body, fully extended from the chest at shoulder level.


Holdings both fists clenched, one immediately above the other at the height of the shoulders.

Pass out of defensive zone.

Open part of hand displayed in a pushing motion.

A tugging motion with both arms, as if pulling something from in front of the stomach.


A cross motion of the forearms, one passing under the other.


A cross motion of the forearms, one passing under the other.

With both skates on the ice striking right leg with the right hand below the knee.


Slapping either knee with the palm of the hand whilst keeping both skates on the ice.

Tapping either elbow with the other hand.