Hockey 101

How thick is the ice?

The best ice for pro hockey is usually held at 16 degrees Fahrenheit for the proper hardness and is approximately three-quarters of an inch thick.

What are hockey sticks made of?

Typical wood sticks are made of the northern white ash or rock elm. The handle is one piece and the laminated blade is affixed to it. Recently, many players have switched to shafts made of composites, such as graphite or aluminum.

How big is a rink?

The standard size is 200’ x 85’, although some do vary slightly in size.

How big is the goal?

The goal is six feet wide by four feet tall, curving from one to three feet deep. Breakaway pins anchor it to the ice.

Who gets credit for an assist?

The last player or players (not more than two) to touch the puck prior to scoring a goal, as long as it does not deflect off an opponent’s stick or body.

What is the puck made of?

The puck is made of vulcanized rubber, three inches in diameter and one inch thick. It is frozen before entering play to make it “bounce” resistant. It weighs about six ounces.

How fast does the puck travel?

Some slapshots propel the puck between 80-100 mph. Speeds exceeding 100 mph have been recorded by some of the hardest shooters.

What are the different referee/linesmen signals?

A complete list of signals can be found at

Where can  I view all of the official NHL rules?

A complete list of NHL rules can be found at:


Attacking Zone:

The area between the opponent’s blue line and its goal.


An attempt by a player, on his way back to the defensive zone, to regain the puck from the opposition by checking or harassing an opponent who has the puck.

Backhand Shot:

A shot or pass made with the stick from the left side by a right-handed player or from the right side by a left-handed player.

Blue Lines:

There are two blue lines, 12-inches wide running parallel across the ice, each 60 feet from the goal. They divide the rink into three zones called the attacking, defending and neutral zone.

Body Check:

When a hockey player bumps or slams into an opponent with either his hip or his shoulder to legally block his progress and to throw him off balance. It is allowed against the person who is in control of the puck or the last player who controlled it.

Center Line:

A red, 12-inch wide line across the ice midway between the two goals.

Cross Bar:

The horizontal bar that connects the top of two goalposts.

Developmental Rule:

For each game, AHL clubs must dress 11 players (excluding goalies) who have played in fewer than 260 regular season games in the NHL, AHL, IHL, or European Elite Leagues. As a result, no more than six veterans may dress for any game, although more can be carried on the roster.

Double Minor:

A type of minor penalty (four minutes) given for certain accidental infractions that result in injury to another player.

Empty Net Goal:

A goal that is scored against a team that has pulled its goalie.


The dropping of the puck by an official between the sticks of two opposing players, standing one stick-length apart. This is used to begin play at the start of each period or to resume play when it has stopped.


A major penalty that occurs when two or more players drop their sticks and gloves and fight. If the referee deems one player to be the instigator, that player gets a game misconduct.


To check or harass an opponent who has the puck in his defensive zone, keeping the opponents in their end of the rink, while trying to regain control of the puck.

Full Strength:

When a team has its full complement of five players and a goaltender on the ice.

Goal Crease:

A semi-circular area with a six-foot radius in front of the opening of the goal. This marks the playing area of the goaltender into which no player without the puck may enter.

Hat Trick:

When a player scores three goals in one game.

Should any player or goalkeeper of a team, equal or superior in numerical strength to the opposing team, shoot, bat or deflect the puck from his own half of the ice beyond the goal line of the opposing team, play shall be stopped once the puck is touched by a player of the non-offending team other than the goalkeeper. For the purpose of this rule, the point of last contact with the puck by the team in possession shall be used to determine whether icing has occurred or not.  As such, the team in possession must “gain the line” in order for the icing to be nullified.  “Gaining the line” shall mean that the puck (not the player’s skate) must make contact with the center red line in order to nullify a potential icing.  For the purpose of interpretation of the rule, “icing the puck” is completed the instant the puck is touched first by a defending player (other than the goalkeeper) after it has crossed the goal line and if in the action of so touching the puck, it is knocked or deflected into the net, it is no goal.  The puck striking or deflecting off an official does not automatically nullify a potential icing.


Hitting the puck directly upon receiving a pass. The offensive player takes his backswing while the puck is on its way to him and attempts to time his swing with the arrival of the puck.


Making player changes or substitutions while the play is underway.


An additional sudden death period not lasting more than five minutes of play, with the team scoring first being declared the winner. The overtime period is played with four skaters and a goalie. Should no goal be scored, a shootout will follow until a winner is declared.

Penalty Box:

The area just behind the sideboards, across from the team benches, where penalized players serve their penalty time.

Penalty Shot:

A free shot awarded to a player who has been illegally interfered with, preventing him from a clear scoring opportunity. The shot is taken with only the goalie guarding against it.


The left and right positions taken by the defensemen of the attacking team, just inside the blue line of the attacking zone.

Poke Check:

A quick jab or thrust to the puck or opponent’s stick to knock the puck away from him, usually done by the goalie.

Power Play:

An attack by a team at full strength against a team playing one man (or two men) shorthanded because of a penalty (or penalties).

Pulling the Goalie:

Taking the goalkeeper off the ice and replacing him with a forward, leaving the goal unguarded, used during a delayed penalty call and as a last attempt to score.

Screen Shot:

A shot on goal that the goalie cannot see because it was taken from behind one or more players from either team standing in front of the net.


A team with one or more players off the ice in the penalty box when the opponent has its full complement of players on the ice.

Shot on Goal (SOG):

A scoring attempt that is successfully blocked or otherwise prevented by a goalie.

Slap Shot:

A shot in which the player raises his stick in a backswing, with his strong hand held low on the shaft while his other hand is held on the end as a pivot. As the stick comes down towards the puck, the player leans into the stick to put all his power behind the shot and to add velocity to the puck. Slap shots may travel between 80-100 mph.


The area immediately in front of the goal crease. It is from this zone that most goals are scored and where the most furious activity takes place.

Stick Handling:

To control the puck along the ice with the blade of the stick.


The third man in a fight gets a game misconduct penalty and is out of the game for its duration; created to discourage players from jumping into a fight, even if they are only trying to break it up.

Top Shelf:

Term used to describe when an offensive player shoots high in an attempt to beat the goalie by shooting the puck into the top portion of the net.


A player who follows his teammate on the attack seemingly out of the action, but who actually is in position to receive a backward or drop pass.


A player skates around behind the opposing goal and attempts to wrap the puck around the goal post and under the goalie.

Wrist Shot:

A shot made using a strong flicking of the wrist and forearm muscles, with the stick blade kept on the ice; it is slower but more accurate than a slap shot.