Beginner's Guide: Ice Hockey

April 8, 2018

Probably the least known of the American sports, ice hockey is a fast paced and vicious game which takes a lot of skill to play. Here's my beginner's guide to Ice Hockey!



Before coming to the US, I had heard of ice hockey. It was a sport at the winter olympics, seemed a bit violent, and was "like normal hockey, but on ice". Little did I know that it is in fact the BEST AMERICAN SPORT EVER. It's fast like basketball, and aggressive like American football, but without all the stop-start antics and "star players" (I'm sure there are "stars" in ice hockey but its much more of a team effort trying to score a goal). Here's what you need to know the basics:


  • There are 6 players in an ice hockey team, 3 forwards, 2 defenders and 1 heavily protected goalie.

  • The game is played in three 20 minute periods, which means that you actually spend more time watching the game than watching the "entertainment" between thirds.

  • Goals are scored only if it is hit in by a hockey stick, and not if kicked, thrown in or hit in by the stick above a certain point.

  • Violence (e.g. slamming an opposing player into a wall because you "can't stop") is generally accepted, but every so often someone will get sin-binned. This leads to a Power Play which are usually a bit of a let down.

  • Each team has unlimited substitutions, so you will often see players hopping on and off the pitch.

  • There is an offside rule, much to any football fans delight.

  • The goalies, who use their impressive flexibility and quad strength to squat in the goal for 60 minutes,  will occasionally leave their goal to retrieve the puck for a teammate, or, if they know their team is losing, will swan off five minutes before the end of the match for a sit down.

  • If the puck goes up in the air players can catch or knock it back down to the ice with their hands but it must be put back on the ice immediately


And there you have it. If you want more information on ice hockey rules check out the National Hockey League or this helpful guide.


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