The Fastest Sport on Earth
For all of you who are new to hockey, welcome to the fastest sport on Earth. It is also one of the easiest to understand. The game of hockey is made up of three periods of twenty minutes each. Six men are on the ice at one time for each team. Substitutions are made every one to three minutes or so to rest players, taking place while play is in progress or at a break.
A team scores when a player shoots the puck into the opponent's net with his stick, although it is not necessary to shoot it into the netting. If the entire puck crosses the goal line inside the post, a goal is scored. A goal is also scored if the puck is bounced in or knocked in by the goalie. It cannot be kicked in or butted in with a high stick.
Each goal is worth one point. Players who help set up goals are given an assist. Games are usually low-scoring because of both the high skill factor and the physical nature of the game.
A victory is worth two points in the league standings, and a loss in a shootout is worth one point. A loss is worth 0 points.
Two Most Important Rules
The two most common infractions you will see called in hockey are offsides and icing. The majority of game stoppages you wil see during a game will be a result of one of these infractions.
A team is offside when any member of the attacking team precedes the puck carrier over the defending team's blue line. The position of the player's skates and not that of his stick is the determining factor. If both skates are over the blue line before the puck, the player is offside. If he only has one skate over the blue line and one on the blue line, he is onside. As long as a player has a part of his skate touching the blueline, he is considered “onside.” In the example below, notice how player B crosses the blue line before player A who has the puck does. Player B is offside.
Icing is not permitted when teams are at even strength. Icing occurs when a player on his team's side of the red (center) line shoots the puck all the way down the ice, it crosses the red goal line at any point other than the goal itself and is first touched by a defending player. Play is then stopped and the puck is returned to the other end of the ice for a face-off. Icing is not called if the goalie plays the puck by leaving his net, if the puck cuts across part of the goal crease, when a defending player, in the judgement of the linesman, could have played the puck before it crossed the red goal line, when an attacking player who was onside when the puck was shot down the ice manages to touch it first, or when the attacking team is playing short-handed because of a penalty or if the goaltender leaves his crease. In the example below, notice how player A from the blue team manages to get to the puck.