What’s an offside?  What’s icing?  What does cross checking mean? Get a crash course in the rules of hockey!

Here are some rules/penalties most often seen during a game.



The officials whistle for this infraction when a player hits an opponent who is not aware of the impending contact and therefore cannot defend himself from behind. It is a very dangerous infraction that can lead to serious injury to the person who has been hit. Depending on the referees decision, this can be a major penalty.


This penalty occurs when a player takes more than three strides before deliberately checking an opponent. A minor or major penalty may be imposed upon a person who skates or jumps into, or charges, an opponent in any way. Whether it’s determined to be a major or minor penalty depends upon the seriousness of the infraction; the more dangerous the hit is, the more likely it will be a major.

Cross Checking:

If a player picks their stick up off of the ice and holds it in two hands to check an opponent (using the shaft of the stick).

High Sticking:

Any contact made by a stick on an opponent above the shoulders is not allowed, and a minor penalty will be assessed. This rule is supposed to protect the players from being hit in the face, eyes, or head. Also, players cannot bat the puck above the normal height of the shoulders; play is stopped if that happens. In addition, any apparent goal scored as a result of a player striking the puck with his stick above his shoulder is not allowed.


A player is not allowed to use their hands to hold an opponent or the opponent’s equipment to impede their progress. Holding can prevent a player from moving freely, and reduce their ability to score a goal.


If a player impedes the progress of another player by “hooking” him with his stick and keeping him from making a play, then he is called for hooking. Hooking usually occurs when an opposing player skates past a defenseman and the defenseman has no other choice but to “hook” the player, in hopes of preventing the player from taking a shot on net. Not only does that break up a play illegally, but it can also injure a player, especially if the stick used in the hooking comes up high and hits the opposing player in his face. Hooking is also known as water skiing – which gives you a good idea of what is involved.


Using a stick, arm, or leg to cause an opponent to trip or fall. No matter how you trip your opponent- with your stick, knee, foot, arm, or hand-it still adds up to tripping.


Icing is called when a player behind the red line in his end of the rink shoots a puck past the goal line in his offensive zone when both teams are playing at even strength. Play is stopped when an opponent other than the goalie touches the puck. Icing is considered an infraction because it can be used by teams to take away legitimate scoring chances from skaters on the offensive. Players are not allowed to make a line change if they have iced the puck.


A player may not skate into his offensive zone ahead of the puck. If that happens, a whistle is blown, and a faceoff is held just outside the zone where the breach-offside- occurred. What matters in an offside is the position of the skates: Both skates must be all the way over the blue line for a player to be potentially off-side. The location of the stick does not matter. Offside is also called if a player makes what is called a two-line pass.

Offside is called to keep players from hanging around the red line at center ice, or all the way down in their offensive zone, and waiting for a pass that will give them a breakaway (skating toward the goal with no defenders around except for the goalie) and an easy chance at a goal.


Come to a Wolf Pack game and impress the crowd with your new hockey knowledge!