Tripod Sports Explanations: Ice Hockey for Rookies

3 min read

Anna Bauer ’23

Sports Editor

Attention everyone who has ever wanted to know how the game of ice hockey works! For whatever reason you are reading this, maybe to impress someone or because the game just seems like a lot of fun, welcome to the first “Sports for Rookies” segment! 

The object of the game is pretty straight forward: score more than your opposing team. The rest is just details. 

There are six players on the ice at a time. This six is composed of a goaltender, three forwards and two defensemen. 

Each game is divided into three 20-minute periods. During regular season, if the third period ends and the score is tied, the teams will play with three skaters for one five-minute overtime period; the first team that scores, wins. If it is still tied at the end of this, the game will go into a shootout. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, however, there is no shootout and the overtime period is instead 20 minutes with five skaters per team–it’s sudden-death.  

The Stanley Cup is the Holy Grail for ice hockey players. Most dream of winning it. The Isobel Cup is the equivalent for women. 

The big difference between how men play the game versus how women play is checking. Women are not allowed to make a direct body check, while men definitely are – the blood and gush is part of the fun. 

In order to understand a game of hockey, you definitely want to know the basic dos and don’ts, so here they are:

Each play begins with a faceoff and ends either when an official blows their whistle or a goal is made. The most basic rule of the faceoff is that only two players are allowed in the circle and each faces their opponent’s end of the rink. Once the official drops the puck, the players battle for it and try to knock it out to their teammates to run it down the ice. 

Only a goalie can catch the puck, so if another player accidentally catches it, they must immediately knock it back down to the ice. A violation of this could result in a two-minute minor penalty. 

Penalties are divided into three categories: minor, major and misconduct. Minor penalties result in a player sitting out for two-minutes in the penalty box while their team plays one-man down. Major penalties require five-minutes in the penalty box, and misconduct penalties vary. When this happens, the other team has a great advantage and tries to score while playing five on four. If a shot is made, this is called scoring on a power-play. 

The two other big things you should know are icing and offsides. Icing can be confusing, but essentially it is just when a player hits the puck from their team’s side of the red center line, and it crosses the red goal line at any point that isn’t the goal itself. Since it is not allowed, when it happens the referees return the puck to the other side of the ice and instigate a faceoff. Now, offsides is just when any member of the attacking team crosses the defending team’s blueline before the puck. 

Now, there is so much more to hockey then just this. So, if you’re intrigued, the Tripod encourages you to check out our own amazing hockey teams this winter–fingers crossed they’ll be playing–to further your hockey knowledge! 


Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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