Navigating through the complex world of hockey penalties can often feel like skating on thin ice. With a staggering five types of penalties, accounting for a massive 88% of all game calls, understanding them becomes crucial to any fan or player.
This comprehensive guide will offer you clear insights into various penalty classifications from minor to major and everything in between, helping avoid confusion when watching your next game.
|Boarding||Minor||2 or 5 minutes|
|Contact to the Head||Minor||2 minutes|
|Cross-Checking||Minor||2 or 5 minutes|
|Delay of Game||Minor||2 minutes|
|Elbowing||Minor||2 or 5 minutes|
|Slashing||Minor||2 or 5 minutes|
|Checking from Behind||Major||5 minutes|
|Fight Instigator||Major||2 minutes|
|Grasping the Facemask||Major||5 minutes|
|Pushing-off Opponent with Skate||Major||5 minutes|
There are various classifications of penalties in hockey, including minor penalties, major penalties, misconduct penalties, match penalties, penalty shots, and delayed penalties.
Minor penalties dominate the landscape in ice hockey, accounting for 88% of all calls. These infractions see players banished to the penalty box for two minutes, leaving their team shorthanded and vulnerable to opposing attacks.
Common types include slashing, tripping, holding, roughing interference and cross-checking. If a player racks up more than one minor penalty during play? They sit out even longer with a double minor that keeps them off the ice for four full minutes.
A Major penalty in hockey marks a severe infraction. Typically, this occurs when a player commits an action that is viewed as dangerous or harmful to another player. These offenses can range from fighting and boarding to checking from behind or intentional injury.
The offending player faces an immediate removal from the game for five minutes, leaving their team at a disadvantage — playing shorthanded during this period.
It’s essential to note that even if the opposing team scores during this time, unlike minor penalties, the penalized player does not get freed prematurely; they must serve the full duration of penalty time handed down by officials.
Furthermore, cases where a player receives both major and minor penalties simultaneously exist — leading to seven straight minutes of penalty time with the major penalty taken into consideration first.
Misconduct penalties in hockey refer to severe infractions that earn a player a 10-minute trip to the penalty box. Often, these offenses include heavily unsportsmanlike conduct such as hurling abusive language towards officials or engaging in altercations off the ice.
Notably, if a player receives another type of penalty alongside the misconduct one, another team member must serve this minor or major penalty allowing the penalized player some time to regain composure.
Although a misconduct penalty results in prolonged stay in the box by offending players, their teams are allowed substitute players on ice keeping them from playing shorthanded for an extended period.
However, repeat offenders might face harsher punishments including game misconduct penalties and potential match bans.
Match penalties in hockey are the most severe infractions that a player can commit on the ice. They result in an immediate ejection from the game and suspension for the rest of the match. These penalties are typically called when a player deliberately injures or attempts to injure another player, such as with a high hit to the head or a violent slash.
When a match penalty is assessed, the offending player must immediately leave the ice and head to the dressing room. Another teammate must serve the 5-minute portion of their penalty, meaning that team will be shorthanded for that duration of time.
Match penalties are not taken lightly and reflect serious breaches of sportsmanship and safety in hockey.
A penalty shot in hockey occurs when a player with the puck has a clear breakaway towards the opposing team’s goal, but is obstructed or impeded by an opponent’s illegal contact. It is considered a significant scoring opportunity that was taken away due to interference.
During a penalty shot, the offending player usually receives a minor penalty and is required to sit in the penalty box for two minutes. The penalized team must also play shorthanded for the duration of this penalty.
On average, players score on approximately 33% of penalty shot attempts compared to 18% for teams on a power play. Penalty shots are exciting moments in games and can often result in crucial goals for the attacking team.
A delayed penalty in hockey occurs when a violation is committed by one team, but the play continues until the offending team touches the puck or a goal is scored. When an official notices a penalty-worthy offense, they raise their arm to signal that a penalty has been called, but the whistle is not blown immediately.
This allows the non-offending team to maintain control of the puck and have an advantage by playing with an extra skater on the ice. The penalized player will serve their penalty once play stops, and their team will be shorthanded for either two minutes (for minor penalties) or five minutes (for major penalties).
Delayed penalties add an extra layer of strategy to the game as both teams try to take advantage of the situation while avoiding further infractions.
Penalty records in hockey reveal the extremes within the sport, documenting instances of unruly behavior and persistent infringements.
Most penalties in a game (team)
Most penalties in a game (individual)
Most penalty minutes in a season (team)
Most penalty minutes in a season (individual)
Most career penalty minutes (individual)
In hockey, there are various types of penalties that players can receive. These include boarding, charging, cross-checking, elbowing, and high sticking. Want to know more? Keep reading!
Boarding is a common type of penalty in hockey that occurs when a player pushes or checks an opponent violently into the boards. It is considered a minor penalty; and the offending player will spend two minutes in the penalty box.
Boarding can be dangerous and potentially injurious, as it often involves excessive force and can lead to players hitting their heads on the boards. In fact, head injuries from boarding have become a major concern in recent years due to their potential long-term effects.
To prevent such incidents, referees are encouraged to closely monitor plays near the boards and penalize players who engage in this unsafe behavior.
Charging is a type of penalty in hockey that occurs when a player intentionally skates or jumps into an opponent with excessive force. This aggressive act can result in serious injury to the opposing player and is considered a dangerous play on the ice.
When charged, the offending player receives either a major or minor penalty, depending on the severity of the infraction. A minor charging penalty lasts for two minutes, while a major charging penalty results in five minutes of shorthanded play for the offender’s team.
Charging often involves players taking long strides towards their target before making contact. This type of behavior is strictly penalized by officials to ensure player safety.
Cross-checking is a common type of penalty in hockey. It occurs when a player uses their stick to forcefully push or strike an opposing player. This action can result in injury and is considered dangerous, hence why it is penalized.
In a cross-checking penalty, the offending player is sent to the penalty box for two minutes. During this time, their team will be short handed and forced to defend with one less player on the ice.
In more serious cases, where excessive force or intent to injure is evident, the referee may impose a major penalty instead, leading to five minutes of penalty time for the offender. Players should exercise caution and avoid engaging in cross-checking, as it not only gives an advantage to the opposing team but also puts both players at risk of harm.
Elbowing is a common penalty in ice hockey that falls under the category of minor penalties. It occurs when a player uses their elbow to make contact with an opponent, which is strictly against the rules.
When an elbowing penalty is called, the offending player must spend two minutes sitting in the penalty box, leaving their team shorthanded on the ice. Referees use specific signals to indicate an elbowing infraction, ensuring clarity for both players and spectators.
Elbowing can result in face-offs or penalties depending on where it occurs on the ice and the severity of the contact made. Minor penalties account for a majority of calls in hockey games. Players should thus be aware of avoiding any unnecessary and illegal use of elbows during gameplay.
High sticking is a common type of penalty in ice hockey that occurs when a player’s stick makes contact with an opposing player above the shoulders. This dangerous play can result in serious injury, which is why it is penalized.
When high sticking is called, the offending player must serve a minor penalty and sit in the penalty box for two minutes. During this time, their team will be shorthanded and must defend against the opposing team’s power play.
Players should keep their sticks down and avoid any unnecessary contact to prevent high sticking penalties.
Holding is a common penalty in hockey that occurs when a player uses their hands, arms, or stick to impede the movement of an opposing player. It’s considered a minor penalty and results in the offending player being sent to the penalty box for two minutes.
During this time, their team is shorthanded, meaning they have one less player on the ice. Holding accounts for a significant portion of minor penalties called in hockey, as players often use this tactic to prevent their opponents from gaining an advantage.
By restricting an opponent’s movement through holding, players hope to disrupt their gameplay and gain an upper hand for their team.
Hooking is a common penalty in hockey that occurs when a player uses their stick to impede the progress or hook onto an opposing player. This can happen when a player places their stick across an opponent’s body or uses it to tug at their arm, slowing them down or preventing them from making a play.
Hooking is considered a minor penalty and resulting in the offending player sitting in the penalty box for two minutes; while their team is shorthanded. Hooking disrupts fair gameplay and also gives the opposing team an advantage on the power play.
Interference is a penalty called in hockey when a player obstructs or impedes an opponent who does not have possession of the puck. This can include actions such as body-checking, positioning oneself to block an opponent’s path, or preventing them from reaching the puck.
Interference penalties are typically minor penalties, in which the offending player is sent to the penalty box for two minutes and their team being short handed.
It is important for players to understand that interfering with an opponent’s ability to play the game fairly is not allowed and will result in consequences for their team.
Roughing is one of the most common types of penalties in hockey. It occurs when a player engages in excessive physical contact with an opponent, such as pushing, shoving, or delivering unnecessary hits.
When called for roughing, the offending player is required to serve a 2-minute penalty in the penalty box. Roughing penalties account for a significant portion of all minor penalties in hockey, making up around 88% of penalty calls.
These penalties can have a big impact on the game, as they result in the opposing team having a power play and the opportunity to score while their opponents are shorthanded. So players need to be careful not to engage in excessive physicality that crosses over into roughing territory during games.
Slashing is a common type of penalty in hockey that occurs when a player uses their stick to forcefully strike or hit an opponent. It is considered a minor penalty, which means the offending player must go to the penalty box for 2 minutes.
Slashing can be quite impactful, as it often results in the opposing team receiving a power play advantage, where they have more players on the ice than the penalized team. This gives them an opportunity to score while their opponents are shorthanded.
Slashing can also escalate into more severe penalties if it includes actions such as slashing with excessive force or targeting an opponent’s head. In these cases, it may lead to major penalties or even match penalties, resulting in longer suspensions and other consequences for the offending player.
Tripping is a common penalty in hockey, often resulting from a player using their stick or leg to intentionally obstruct an opponent’s skate and cause them to fall. When a tripping penalty is called, the offending player must serve time in the penalty box for 2 minutes.
This puts their team at a disadvantage as they are shorthanded for the duration of the penalty. Tripping penalties account for 88% of all penalty calls in hockey, along with other minor penalties such as slashing, holding, roughing, interference, and cross-checking.
It’s important for players to avoid tripping infractions as they can significantly impact gameplay and give the opposing team an advantage on offense.
Kneeing in the NHL refers to a penalty when a player uses their knee to make intentional contact with an opponent, typically targeting the opponent’s lower body.
This action is considered dangerous and can lead to significant injuries, particularly to the knees or legs of the opposing player. The NHL penalizes kneeing to prioritize player safety and discourage such reckless behavior on the ice.
When a player is guilty of kneeing, the referees assess a penalty based on the severity of the infraction. The standard penalty for kneeing is a two-minute minor penalty.
However, suppose the kneeing action results in injury or shows a deliberate attempt to injure. In that case, the penalty can be elevated to a four-minute double minor or even a major penalty, resulting in a player being sent to the penalty box for a longer duration.
Contact to the Head penalty refers to a specific infraction where a player makes direct contact with an opponent’s head in a way that is deemed illegal and dangerous. The penalty is enforced to protect player safety and reduce the risk of head injuries.
When a player delivers a hit or makes contact with an opponent’s head, the referees assess a penalty based on the severity and intent of the action.
The specific rules and interpretations regarding head contact penalties may vary slightly between different leagues and organizations, but the general principle remains consistent.
A “Contact to the Head” penalty can be called in various situations, including:
The severity of the penalty for contact to the head can vary depending on the league or organization’s rules and regulations. It can range from a minor penalty, resulting in the player serving two minutes in the penalty box, to a major penalty or a game misconduct, which may lead to ejection from the game.
The intent behind penalizing contact to the head is to promote player safety and discourage actions that can cause serious injury. It aims to ensure that players are responsible for their actions on the ice and that the game is played in a manner that minimizes the risk of head trauma and related injuries.
“Delay of Game” penalty is called when a player or team intentionally delays the progress of the game. This penalty is intended to discourage actions that disrupt the flow and pace of the game.
There are several situations that can result in a Delay of Game penalty:
Typically, a Delay of Game results in a minor penalty, and the offending player must serve two minutes in the penalty box.
However, in certain cases where the infraction is deemed more severe or repeated, a double-minor penalty (four minutes) or a major penalty (five minutes) may be assessed.
Delay of Game penalty encourages a continuous play, maintains the game’s pace, and prevent teams from exploiting loopholes to gain an unfair advantage.
By penalizing actions that intentionally or unintentionally delay the game, the rule aims to uphold the spirit of fair play and keep the game moving smoothly.
Spearing is a serious penalty in hockey that involves using the hockey stick to strike an opponent’s body, particularly targeting the groin or midsection. This dangerous action is considered a major penalty and results in a five-minute stay in the penalty box for the offending player.
Referees use specific signals to indicate when a spearing infraction has occurred on the ice. The severity of a spearing penalty highlights the importance of fair play and sportsmanship in the game, as such actions can cause severe harm to the targeted player.
In addition to serving time in the penalty box, players caught spearing may also face further punishments such as fines or suspensions.
A fighting major penalty is a type of penalty called when players engage in a fight during an NHL game. Fighting is a unique aspect of ice hockey and is regulated by specific rules to ensure player safety and maintain control of the game.
Read more about fighting in NHL.
A butt-ending penalty in the NHL refers to a penalty assessed when a player jabs an opponent with the top end of their hockey stick, typically using the knob or butt end. This action is considered dangerous and can result in severe injury, so it is penalized to ensure player safety and discourage such behavior on the ice.
When a player is guilty of a butt-ending infraction, the referees assess a penalty based on the severity of the action. The standard penalty is a two-minute minor penalty.
However, if the butt-ending action results in injury or causes significant harm to the opponent, the penalty can be elevated to a four-minute double minor or even a major penalty, resulting in a player being sent to the penalty box for a longer duration.
Butt-ending penalties are intended to deter players from using their stick in a dangerous manner, as they can cause serious harm to opponents. The NHL emphasizes the need to protect players from actions that may result in injury or jeopardize their safety.
A checking from behind penalty in the NHL refers to a penalty called when a player forcefully hits an opponent from behind, causing them to be thrown dangerously into the boards.
This type of hit is considered extremely dangerous and carries a high risk of causing severe injury, particularly to the head and neck area. The NHL penalizes checking from behind to prioritize player safety and prevent potentially catastrophic incidents on the ice.
When a player commits a checking from behind infraction, the referees assess a penalty based on the severity of the hit. The standard penalty for checking from behind is a two-minute minor penalty.
However, if the hit results in injury or the player shows a disregard for the opponent’s safety, the penalty can be elevated to a five-minute major penalty, resulting in the offending player being sent to the penalty box for a longer duration.
In ice hockey, a misconduct penalty is a disciplinary action imposed on a player or team for misconduct that is more severe than a minor penalty or a major penalty. It is designed to deter unsportsmanlike behavior and maintain the integrity of the game.
A misconduct penalty involves the removal of the player from the ice for a specified duration, typically 10 minutes. During this time, the team is usually required to play shorthanded, meaning they have fewer players on the ice than their opponents.
Misconduct penalties are often assessed for a variety of infractions, including but not limited to:
Note that a misconduct penalty does not result in an immediate power play for the opposing team.
However, if a player accumulates multiple misconduct penalties in a game, they may be subject to further discipline, such as a game misconduct penalty, which leads to an automatic ejection from the game.
Icing is a fundamental concept in hockey that plays a crucial role in the game. It occurs when a player shoots the puck from behind the center red line all the way down to the other team’s end, and it crosses both the opponent’s goal line and their defensive zone before any player from either team touches it.
This results in an icing violation, and play is halted.
The purpose of icing penalties is to discourage teams from simply dumping or clearing the puck without strategic intention. When an icing violation occurs, there are consequences for the offending team.
They are not allowed to make any substitutions while the opposing team gets an advantageous faceoff in their offensive zone. Furthermore, players who commit an icing violation cannot touch or play the puck until another player has touched it first, increasing their chances of losing possession.
To prevent unnecessary stoppages and delays caused by frequent icing, some leagues have implemented hybrid icing rules where officials use their judgment to determine whether an opposing player could have reached or played the puck before crossing into his own end zone.
This helps maintain gameplay flow while still discouraging blatant dump-and-chase strategies employed by teams during critical moments of a match.
In conclusion, understanding hockey penalties is crucial for both players and fans alike. With various classifications and types of penalties, it’s important to know the consequences and rules associated with each infraction.
By familiarizing yourself with penalty enforcement, signals, and common questions about penalties in hockey, you can fully appreciate the dynamics of the game while ensuring fair play on the ice.
Stay informed, stay engaged, and enjoy the thrilling world of hockey penalties!