The objective of the game is to score as many goals as possible by sending a rubber disc, called a puck, into the opponent’s goal. To handle the puck, players use a field hockey stick. Ice hockey is the only sport where players can move behind the goal!
A senior ice hockey game consists of 3 periods of 20 minutes of actual play with two 15-minute breaks in between. During a Division 1 game, there are 3 referees on the ice (4 in professional leagues and international games). Two linesmen in charge of face-offs, offsides and forbidden clearances. A central referee called “Head”, is the head of the game and is in charge of penalties and goals. He wears orange/red sleeves on his shirt.
Ice hockey is a highly regulated contact sport to ensure player safety. In order to disturb the opponent, players are allowed to make contact with him to destabilize him and recover the puck. Penalties penalize actions that are too dangerous or contrary to the rules. In case of a forbidden action, a player may be excluded from the ice for several minutes, leaving his team short-handed during the time of his exclusion. Note that contact is prohibited before the age of 13, as in women’s field hockey.
An attacking player is not allowed to precede the puck into the attacking zone (blue line). The Linesman may decide not to blow the whistle for offside to allow the attacking team time to exit the zone without controlling the puck before re-entering.
A No-Clearance is when the puck, shot from the defensive half of the rink, crosses the opposing goal line when the two teams are evenly matched (5 vs. 5) or when the attacking team is on the power play.
Two exceptions to this no-clearance rule:
- When the team taking the kick is outnumbered
- When a player of the clearing team gets to the puck first without having gone offside (hybrid clearing rule)
Teams may make as many player changes as they wish. However, they are supervised at certain times of the game.