Some Rules for Playing Hockey
the beginning…No one knows just where or when hockey was invented. Several
towns claim that honor. What we do know is that a formal set of rules was
written in the 1870’s by modifying rugby rules. There were nine players on
each team, one referee, two goal judges.
In the 1911-12 season
the game of hockey changed from two 30-minute periods to three 20-minute
periods per game. At that time the game was played with two 7-man teams. The
following season a rule change reduced the team to six players per team on
Hockey League (NHL) was organized in 1917 but it was not the only
professional hockey league. There was another professional league on the
west coast called the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). At the end of
seasons 1918-1922 the champion team in each league met to play for the
By this time
the number of players on a team had shrunk to six or seven. The NHL always
played with six men on the ice. However, the PCHA played with seven. The
seventh man was a rover. He played between the forwards and the defensemen.
His responsibilities were both defensive and offensive. We have a few Storm
players who can do that, don’t we? It was like today when, at the end of a
close game, the goalie is pulled to put an extra man on the ice. Except,
they did not pull the goalie.
When it came time to play for the Stanley Cup, the NHL team would put a
seventh player on the ice. This went on until the end of the 1925-26 season.
At that time the OCHA successor, the Western Hockey League disbanded. The
NHL took the Cup and has awarded it to their play off champion since then.
And all the teams have played with six members on the ice.
Length of Game
How long did it take when you first started watching hockey games to stop
calling each period of play a quarter?
When the game of hockey was first
formalized with written rules there were two 30-minutes periods of play and
no substitutions were allowed. [puff, puff] When the NHL was formed,
officials suggested three 20-minute periods instead with the two
intermissions when players could rest. They felt this would speed up the
game which the fans would enjoy. Two intermissions instead of one would also
increase sales at the concession stands. They only sold peanuts and popcorn
back in those days.
then the only change that has been made was to extend the length of the
intermission from ten to fifteen minutes.
All the official lines on the ice are 2” wide.
The Red Line
The red line divides the rink in half.
During warm-ups each team is to use the half of the ice that contains the
goal they will be defending during the first period. According to USA Hockey
rule #635 (d) “during pre-game warm-up (not less than 12 and no more than 20
minutes – recommended time is 15 minutes) and before the commencement of
play in any period, each team shall confine its activity to its own half of
the rink. Any player crossing the center red line during warm-ups, or any
player who shoots a puck at an opponent or in direction of the opponent’s
goal, before the game and between periods will receive a minor penalty. The
Referee is instructed to strictly enforce this rule.”
Elbowing or Kneeing
According to the USA Hockey Rulebook for Junior Hockey – Rule 610.
(a) A minor or a major penalty shall be imposed on any player who uses his
elbow or knee in such a manner as to in any way foul an opponent.
(b) A major plus game ejection or a major plus game misconduct penalty shall
be imposed on any player who injures an opponent as the result of a foul
committed by elbowing or kneeing.
To signal this infraction, the referee gives a single tap to his right knee
with his right hand while keeping both skates on the ice.
Back Check – Forwards in their offensive
zone skate back quickly to their own defensive zone to protect their goal
and keep the opponent from shooting.
Body Check – The player uses his/her body
against an opponent who has possession of the puck. Legal body checking must
be done only with the hips or shoulders and must be above the opponent’s
knees and below the neck. Unnecessarily rough body checking is penalized.
Head Butting – Using the head while delivering a body check (head
first) in the chest, head, neck, or back area; or using the head to strike
Shot On Goal
Just because the puck is shot toward the goal it does not count as a “Shot
on Goal”. Off-ice officials count only shots that would have gone into the
net if a player or the goalie had not intervened. Hitting the pipes does not
count as a shot on goal.
Abuse of Officials and Fines
You have heard of a team
being fined for some rule infraction. Ever wonder what the infraction might
be and/or what the amount of the fine is?
“If any Team Official is guilty of any of the following, he shall be
assessed a game ejection and/or game misconduct penalty, and may be subject
to a fine. A Team Official incurring a Game Ejection penalty shall be
subject to a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500). A Team Official
incurring a Game misconduct penalty shall be subject to a fine not to exceed
seven hundred fifty dollars ($750).”
1. Using obscene gestures, racial/ethnic slurs or displaying unprofessional
conduct on the ice or anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game.
2. Persisting in any course
of conduct for which the team has previously been assessed a bench minor
Some Early Rules for Playing Hockey
Amended November, 1897
Rule I. Team
– A team shall be composed of seven players, who shall be bona-fide members
of the club they represent.
(In 1912 a rule change reduced the team to six players per team on the ice.)
Rule II. Game
game shall be commenced and renewed by a face in the centre of the rink.
– Rink shall be at least 112 feet by 58 feet.
Rule III. Goal
– A goal is placed in the
middle of each goal line, composed of two upright posts, four feet in
height, placed six feet apart, and at least five feet from the end of the
ice. The goal posts shall be firmly fixed. In the event of a goal post being
displaced or broken, the Referee shall blow his whistle, and the game shall
not proceed until the goal is replaced.
Ice Hockey and Ice
Polo Guide, 1898