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Ice Hockey Rink Explained – With Images

Ice Hockey Rink Explained


Have you ever found yourself puzzled by the intricate markings and zones on an ice hockey rink? I’ve been there too, staring blankly at the sheet of ice trying to make sense of it all.

After hours of research and countless games watched, I’ve gathered what you need to know about an Ice Hockey Rink – from its dimensions and marking to rules related to it. 

Now, let’s dive in.

Key Takeaways

Dimensions of an Ice Hockey Rink

an Ice Hockey Rink

The dimensions of an ice hockey rink vary depending on whether it is an international or North American rink.

International dimensions

International ice hockey rinks have certain specifications that set them apart from North American rinks. While they share the same length, the width is where they really differ.

Here is a table outlining the international ice hockey rink dimensions:

Dimension Size
Length 200ft
Width 98.4ft
Corner Radius 28ft
Distance from Red Line to Goal Line 100ft
Distance from Red Line to Blue Line 25ft

These dimensions make international ice hockey rinks wider than their North American counterparts by about 13ft, which can influence the strategies and gameplay. Since there’s more surface area, there’s more room to maneuver and speed can be a bigger factor in the game.

North American dimensions

North American ice hockey rinks, specifically those used in the National Hockey League (NHL), have a distinctive set of dimensions. Here is a breakdown of the specific measurements:



Rink Length

200 feet

Rink Width

85 feet

Corner Radius


Offensive/Defensive Zones

75 feet long

Neutral Zone

50 feet long

Center Line

Cuts across the middle of the ice

Blue Lines

Separate the neutral zone from the attacking and defending zones

Face-off Circles

5 circles – 4 in zone circles and 1 neutral ice circle

It’s important to note that these North American dimensions are the standard for professional ice hockey and are critical to the rules and flow of the game. For instance, the blue lines which separate the neutral zone from the attacking and defending zones play a key role in the offsides rule.

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Scoring Areas of an Ice Hockey Rink

The scoring areas of an ice hockey rink include the goal lines, goal crease, and goaltender’s restricted area. Read on to know more about these areas.

Markings on an Ice Hockey Rink

The markings on an ice hockey rink include lines, faceoff spots and circles, goal posts and nets, creases, goaltender trapezoids, referee’s crease, and zones.


Lines of Ice Hockey Rink

You’ve likely seen the myriad lines scattered across an ice hockey rink. There are three key types; the center line, blue lines and goal lines. The center line bisects the rink lengthwise into two halves, denoting where faceoffs occur at the start of a period or after goals.

Blue lines separate neutral from offensive and defensive zones – remember that pesky offsides rule? It’s these blue boundaries which dictate whether players can enter their offensive zone before the puck does! 

Finally, we have those important goal lines running horizontally across each net to ascertain if a puck has indeed crossed over for a valid goal score.

These markings guide skaters during gameplay and help referees enforce rules for smooth operation of matches.

Also read about the thickness of the ice on the rink.

Faceoff Spots and Circles

Face-off Circles in Hockey

One important aspect of an ice hockey rink is the faceoff spots and circles. These markings play a crucial role in determining where players can position themselves during faceoffs, which occur at the start of each period and after a goal is scored.

The rink features five distinct face-off circles – four in-zone circles and one neutral ice circle. The face-off circle has a diameter of 30 feet and acts as a boundary for all players, except for the two centers men taking the faceoff.

It’s important to note that wingers must line up on the outer perimeter of the circle while other players cannot enter until after puck drop unless they are designated to take the faceoff.

Goal Posts and Nets

Scoring in Ice Hockey

Goal posts and net structures are crucial for scoring points in the game. The standard size for a goal post is 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide, with a net attached to catch the puck.

The net is made of durable material to withstand powerful shots from players. It’s fascinating to watch as players aim their shots at these targets, trying to outsmart the goaltender and score a goal.

The precision required to hit the small space between the goal posts makes each successful shot even more impressive. 

Whether it’s a slapshot from afar or a quick wrist shot up close, seeing that satisfying “ping” sound when the puck hits the back of the net brings joy to both players and fans alike.


Crease on Rinks

The crease is a crucial part of an ice hockey rink, located just in front of the net. It is marked by a blue patch and serves as the goaltender’s territory. 

When it comes to the crease, there are some important rules to remember: opposing players can skate through it but cannot interfere or initiate contact with the goalie.

If a player impedes a goalie from making a save and the puck crosses the net, the goal will be called back. This ensures fair play and protects goaltenders during gameplay.

 Furthermore, within this area, goalies have more freedom to move around compared to other players on the ice.

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Goaltender Trapezoid

Goaltender Trapezoid

The trapezoid-shaped area behind the net in an ice hockey rink is known as the Goaltender Trapezoid and it has some interesting rules associated with it.

It was introduced in 2009 in the NHL and is often referred to as the Martin Brodeur Rule, named after the legendary goalie who excelled at playing the puck. 

The trapezoid restricts goalies from handling the puck outside of this designated area, which helps increase scoring opportunities for opposing teams.

If a goalie touches the puck outside of the trapezoid, they will receive a minor penalty for delay of game.

Referee's Crease

Referee’s crease is a 10-foot radius, red semicircle near the boards at center ice that serves as a safe zone for referees during gameplay.

It helps to give them space and protection from player collisions while allowing them to have clear sightlines of the action. The placement of the referee’s crease ensures that referees can effectively officiate the game without interfering with play or risking injury.

Zones on the Rink

three Zones-in-Ice-Hockey

Zones are an important aspect of an ice hockey rink as they define the different areas where players can make plays and score goals. There are three main zones on the rink: the offensive zone, defensive zone, and neutral zone.

The offensive zone is where a team tries to score goals and is located on the opposite end of their opponent’s net. Similarly, the defensive zone is where teams try to prevent goals from being scored on them and it’s located in front of their own net.

Finally, the neutral zone acts as a transitional area between offense and defense.

Teams must be aware of these zones during gameplay as there are specific rules regarding entering each one. For example, a team cannot cross into the offensive zone unless they have possession of the puck or if another player from their team has control of it inside that area already.

This helps maintain fairness in play and prevents any unfair advantages.


The boards surrounding the hockey rink are a crucial part of the game. They not only serve as boundaries for the ice, but they also play a role in keeping the puck in play. The puck can bounce off the boards and stay in the game, allowing players to make strategic plays and keep up the fast-paced action.

These boards are made of sturdy materials to withstand hard hits and provide support during intense gameplay. 

So next time, pay attention to how players skillfully use these boards to their advantage in keeping possession of that coveted puck!

Key Concepts of Ice Hockey Rink

professional ice hockey player holding a carbon fiber hockey stick

The key concepts of an ice hockey rink include understanding the object of the game, team dynamics and substitutions, faceoffs, and the game clock. Discover more about these essential elements that make ice hockey exciting to watch and play.

Object of the game

The object of the game in ice hockey is simple yet thrilling – to score more goals than the opposing team. Each team has six players on the ice, including a goaltender who guards the net.

The game begins with a face-off at center ice, and from there, it’s all about speed, skill, and teamwork. Players use their sticks to pass and shoot the puck towards their opponent’s net, while also playing strong defense to prevent goals against their own team.

With fast-paced action and intense physicality, ice hockey is an exhilarating sport that tests both individual skill and collective strategy. 

The teams and substitutions

Here are some key concepts to keep in mind about different NHL teams and substitutions:

  • A hockey team consists of six players on the ice at a time: three forwards, two defensemen, and one goaltender.
  • Substitutions can be made during gameplay, but there are specific rules that dictate when and how they can occur.
  • Teams often change lines during stoppages in play, allowing fresh players to take the ice.
  • The coach determines line changes based on strategy, matchups against the opposing team, and player fatigue.
  • Substitutions can also happen during power plays or penalty kills when a player is sent to the penalty box.
  • During a stoppage in play, teams have the opportunity to call a timeout if needed for strategic purposes or rest for players.

The faceoff

Faceoffs are a fundamental aspect of ice hockey that occur throughout the game, and understanding them is crucial for players and fans alike. These encounters take place at specific locations on the rink, such as within the neutral zone or in one team’s offensive or defensive zones.

The face-off allows opposing players to compete for control of the puck when play restarts after a stoppage. It begins with two centersmen positioned inside the designated faceoff circle, while other players wait just outside.

When the referee drops the puck between them, they battle to gain possession and start their team’s offensive attack. Faceoffs require skill, strategy, and speed to secure an advantage for scoring opportunities or defensive positioning.

The game clock

One of the most critical aspects of an ice hockey game is the game clock. The standard duration for a hockey game is three periods, each lasting 20 minutes. However, there are stoppages in play for penalties, injuries, and timeouts that can extend the overall length of the game.

It’s important to keep an eye on the clock as it determines how much time is remaining in each period and ultimately affects team strategies and gameplay decisions. Additionally, if a team manages to score a goal during their power play or while shorthanded due to penalties, it adds excitement and motivation for both teams.

So always stay tuned to the game clock – every second counts!

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Ice Hockey Rink Related Terminology Explained

A hockey Game Moment

There are various terms and concepts that are important to understand. Some of these include body checking, minor and major penalties, penalty boxes and benches, and out of bounds rules.

Body checking

Body checking is a fundamental aspect of ice hockey that adds excitement and physicality to the game. It involves using your body to make contact with an opponent in an effort to separate them from the puck or gain possession.

Body checking can be executed legally when done within the rules, but there are restrictions on where and how it can be done. Players must aim for the opponent’s torso area and avoid hitting them from behind or above the shoulders, as this can lead to penalties for illegal hits.

The skillful execution of body checks requires timing, strength, and proper technique. It’s a thrilling part of the game that keeps players and fans alike on their toes!

Minor and major penalties

When it comes to ice hockey, understanding the concept of minor and major penalties is crucial. These penalties are assessed by referees for infractions committed during gameplay that can result in a player being temporarily removed from the ice or even ejected from the game.

Read more about hockey penalties and the penalty boxes.

Player benches

The player benches are crucial elements of an ice hockey rink. They provide designated areas for players and coaches during a game. Positioned next to the player benches, the penalty boxes serve as temporary holding cells where players serve time for penalties they receive – penalties such as tripping, slashing, or roughing.

Each team has its own player bench associated with their side of the rink. They are located just outside the boards; places where players and coaches rest and strategize when they are not on the ice.

These areas allow easy access to the playing surface while ensuring that there is a specific space for players to leave temporarily after committing a penalty. Ensuring fair play while maintaining order on the ice, both penalty boxes and benches play vital roles in facilitating smooth gameplay.

Out of bounds

Out of bounds refers to the areas beyond the markings on the ice hockey rink where players are not allowed to play or touch the puck. These areas are typically marked by boards or barriers along the sides and ends of the rink.

If a player or their stick crosses into these out of bounds areas while in possession of the puck, it results in a stoppage of play and a face-off at a designated spot.

Understanding where these out of bounds areas are crucial for players as it helps them stay within the boundaries and avoid penalties. It also allows referees to make fair calls and ensure that gameplay stays within the designated area.

Importance of Ice Maintenance

Ice Maintenance

Smooth ice surface

Maintaining a smooth ice surface is crucial for the game of ice hockey. A well-maintained rink allows players to skate faster, make quick turns, and execute precise maneuvers. It also reduces the risk of injuries as players have better traction on the ice.

To achieve that smooth surface, an elaborate process called resurfacing takes place between periods or during breaks in play. During this process, a Zamboni machine glides across the ice, shaving off any rough patches and adding a fresh layer of water that freezes quickly to create a smooth surface.

This attention to detail ensures that every player can showcase their skills on the pristine ice, enhancing gameplay and making for an exciting match.

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Preventing injuries

We all want to enjoy the game while keeping players safe on the ice. That’s why proper ice maintenance is crucial in preventing injuries. By ensuring a smooth ice surface, players can skate freely without any obstacles or inconsistencies that could cause them to trip or fall.

In addition, maintaining the quality of the ice helps to reduce the risk of muscle strains and sprains as players maneuver across the rink. Ultimately, by prioritizing ice maintenance, we not only enhance gameplay but also create a safer environment for everyone involved in this exciting sport.

Enhancing gameplay

A well-maintained rink ensures that players can skate at high speeds, maneuver swiftly, and execute precise shots and passes.

It also reduces the risk of injuries caused by uneven or rough surfaces. By regularly resurfacing the ice and addressing any imperfections or cracks, teams can showcase their skills to the fullest extent while minimizing the chances of accidents.

So whether you’re a player or a fan, it’s essential to recognize the importance of keeping the rink in top condition to ensure an exciting and enjoyable game for everyone involved.


So you see, understanding the layout and markings of an ice hockey rink is actually fun. From the dimensions to the scoring areas, knowing these key elements enhances our appreciation for the sport.

By delving into ice maintenance and important concepts like faceoffs and penalties, we can dive deeper into the exciting world of ice hockey. 

So lace up your skates, grab your stick, and get ready to experience all that a well-designed ice hockey rink has to offer!