(Ice) hockey: A form of punishment levied against a player or (more rarely) a team's coach for violation of the rules of hockey.

Most penalties result in a player sitting in the penalty box for a set period of time. In most cases the penalized team must play with one less player during the penalty time, and is thus shorthanded -- the other team is said to be on the power play. (The mechanics are thoroughly explained by VT_hawkeye's excellent entry at shorthanded.)

There are five different types of penalties:

  • A minor penalty, for 2 minutes or less (if the non-penalized team scores a power play goal this ends the penalty time). Most penalty calls are minors.
  • A bench minor, a minor penalty assessed to the coaching staff for a violation such as too many men on the ice.
  • A major penalty, for 5 minutes regardless of whether or how many times the non-penalized team scores.
  • A misconduct, which results in the player's banishment for either 10 minutes or the remainder of the game (a match penalty). This sort of penalty does not result in a shorthanded situation.
  • A goaltender's penalty. This is a special situation because the goalie cannot be sent to the penalty box, and so the coach must designate another player to serve the goalie's penalty for him or her. Should a goalie be so rash as to earn a misconduct, though, he or she is still ejected from the game.

In certain cases, such as interference on a breakaway, a referee may call a penalty shot instead of calling a penalty.