To be able to play any game, you must first understand the rules. Rules are not only meant for understanding the game, they are also meant to minimize dangerous scenarios by issuing preventative and punitive guidelines on unnecessary roughness or aggression. The same goes for ice hockey.
This variant of traditional field hockey is played on a bed of ice thereby making it potentially more dangerous. The rule book on ice hockey is pretty simple to understand and the basics are as follows:
The entire game is set to last sixty minutes and is segmented into three parts. Each part is further separated by fifteen minute breaks. Any injuries or discrepancies that may interrupt the game also interrupt the clock. Once these are cleared up, the clock starts again.
A typical ice hockey game involves six players per side. These can be interchanged at any time during the game. An entire hockey team consists of two goalies, a coach and a maximum of 20 players.
The hockey field is divided in the middle by a red line. It is further subdivided into neutral, attacking and defending zones by two blue lines. Like with other games, scoring is when you land the ball, in this case the puck, into the other team’s goal. The goal must only be struck by the hockey stick to be valid.
Ice hockey jargon
The most relevant technical terms in ice hockey are icing and offside. Icing means striking the puck from your team’s side of the field straight into the other team’s side. For the play to be considered icing, the puck should not touch any other player. Offside is when you are not permitted to enter into the other team’s defense blue zone if the puck is not there. Each session starts with a face off where two players from either team stand opposite each other as the puck is tossed in their midst.
The referee decides on plays that are in contention. They also give penalties for any infractions caused by players during the game. You can identify him or her by the red armband they wear. Penalties in ice hockey typically extend to the game at hand. For example, a player may be sent off the field for a few minutes or for the entire duration of the game depending on the severity of his or her infraction. Since the referee is busy and may sometimes miss crucial plays, he has linesmen to assist him make calls. Finally, goal judges sit behind the goals and verify each goal that goes into the basket for any discrepancies.
Fighting is frowned upon and is the most penalized form of contact. The initiator of the fight pays a higher price than those that join in the fray. Some defensive techniques known as checking are acceptable but may result in a penalty if approached from behind. Tripping, elbowing and charging are also disallowed.
If you are planning to learn and play hockey, make sure you learn the basic rules first. Offside play and icing will always be disappointing but knowing the enemy is half the battle won.