What Are the Basic Rules of Ice Hockey?


Quick Answer

Ice hockey is played between two teams with six members each, with five skill position players and one goalie on each side. The object of the game is to score more goals than the other team within three periods of play.

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Full Answer

The skill position players consist of three forwards and two defensemen; however, players are welcome to skate wherever they want on the ice regardless, of position, with the exception of goalies, who are not allowed to skate past the center ice line. Teams are allowed to remove goalies and replace them with skill position players.

Ice hockey games begin and resume with a faceoff, in which a referee drops the puck between two players at one of the nine designated faceoff spots. The two players then attempt to take possession of the puck. During a faceoff, all players not participating in the faceoff must be positioned on their defensive sides of the ice.

Body checking is legal if the checker is using his shoulder, hip or torso, but only when the opposing player is in possession of the puck. Checking to the head and to the back if the player is facing the boards is illegal and results in a penalty. A penalty results in a power play, during which the penalized player must sit in the penalty box while his team plays with one fewer player.

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