Sport played on ice where two teams consisting of 5 players and one
"goaltender" each are using "sticks" to put a "puck" into the other team's "goal".
The playing field and the equipment
Historically a winter sport, now an all year round sport, played indoors in
sports arenas with ice making capabilities. The playing field is called a rink,
and is rectangular with rounded corners, and enclosed by a board and
sometimes Plexiglas to protect the audience from stray pucks and players,
occasionally. The international size - sometimes referred to as "Olympic
size" - of the rink is 61 by 30 meters (200 by 98 feet). In North
American professional ice hockey a narrower rink - 25 meters (85 feet) - is
used. The boards are either wooden or or fiberglass and about 1,05 meter (42
The rink is divided in three zones, one neutral middle zone and two
defensive zones belonging to either team. The defensive zones are 18 m (61 ft)
and indicated by red a blue line toward the neutral zone. The neutral
zone has a red line bisecting it, indicating the center of the rink On
either side of the rink, some 2 m (6 ft) from the end boards, is a netted goal
1,2 m high and 1,8 m wide (4x6 ft).
The players have wooden or composite sticks with a blade
attached to it. This is used to pass, dribble or shoot the puck. The puck
is a rubber cylinder of 2,5 cm height and 7,6 cm diameter (1'' by 3'')
weighing about 160 grams (6 ounces). The players have skates on
their feet. Players also have a lot of protective equipment, such as helmets,
knee pads, gloves, shoulder pads, elbow pads etc. The goalkeeper
("goalie") has specially designed equipment to protect him/her from
hard shots. He also has large knee pads to stop the puck, a glove for catching
of the puck, and a larger stick. Goalies also wear face masks, which is
sometimes mandatory but usually elective for the other players.
The goal of the game is to put the puck in the other team's goal. A game is
limited by time, usually three periods of 20 minutes of effective play.
Sometimes overtime with or without sudden death, and penalty shootout is used
to decide games that are equal after a full game.
Players can use all their body and equipment to move the puck, except for the
head or with a club over shoulder level. They cannot close their hand around the
puck. They cannot pass the puck with an open hand. They can only score a goal
with the stick, unless the puck accidentally bounces on another part of their
body. Thus they cannot kick the puck into a goal, but if the puck hits the skate
and bounces into the goal, it is ok.
Players may check and tackle other players anywhere on the ice in order
to take the puck from them, except for the goalie. The tackle must be done using
the shoulder, the breast or the side of the body, and at least one skate must
remain on the ice. A player may not hold, grab, trip another player, nor is any
use of the stick against another player allowed. Only players with the puck can
Ice hockey uses offside, meaning that the puck must enter the other
team's defensive zone before any player of the attacking team. If the puck goes
out of the zone, so must all the offensive players. Another rule is icing,
meaning that a puck that goes from the defensive zone of one teams to behind the
goal of the other team. If no player from the defensive team touches the puck,
the puck will go back to the defensive zone.
A ice hockey team consists of 2 goalies and 20 field players. Players
can substitute anytime during play, as long as no more than one goalie
and 5 other players are on the ice at the same time. The game is very fast and
physical, so players usually do shifts of 90 seconds a piece.
There are one referee and two linesmen officiating the games. The
linesmen watch for offsides and icing while the referee watches for penalties.
Penalties are given for any breach of the rules mentioned above, plus other
forms of aggressive and violent play. Examples of penalties are roughing,
tripping, cross-checking, high sticking, charging, interference and
elbowing. A player called for a penalty has to serve 2 minutes - if it's
minor, 5 minutes if it's major - in the penalty box. During this time, the
team cannot replace this player, and must thus play shorthanded. If the other
team scores, a player doing time for a minor penalty - but not a major one - can
return to the game. There are also different forms of personal penalties for
misconduct that can render 10 minutes or the rest of the game in the penalty
The name hockey comes from the French "hocquet", meaning a shepard's
stick. The game itself has origins in the early 19th century in Nova Scotia
and later spread to the British army. It also has origins in the Irish
hurling. The game was spread in Canada and Scotland in the late 19th
century, which is also when one started playing on ice and with a puck.
The first ice hockey organization was the Amateur Hockey Association
(AHA) of Canada, from 1885. The first league was also formed in Canada and
since 1893 teams in North America have been competing over the Stanley Cup,
which now is owned by NHL, the National Hockey League.
A world championship for national teams is held every year, except
when Olympic tournaments are played. These are arranged by the International
Ice Hockey Federation, IIHF. There have also been various other hockey
tournaments for national teams, such as Canada Cup and World Cup.
Ice hockey has from the beginning been dominated by Canada. They won most
world championships from the first one in 1920 until 1963. The few exceptions
were by Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, USA and Sweden. Between 1963 and
1993, the Soviet Union won 23 times, only allowing Czechoslovakia and Sweden a
few titles each. After the fall of the Soviet Union, several countries have won
the world championship. The dominating countries in ice hockey today are Canada,
USA, Russia, Sweden, Czech republic and Finland and Slovakia.
The Olympic tournaments has pretty much followed the same patterns, with
respect to what countries have been dominating thorough the years.
The best players in the world play professionally in the NHL,
which consists of teams from Canada and the USA.
reference: ne.se, nhl.com, britannica