Hockey 101 – Part 1: The Rules

Nashville is a growing hockey market and many hockey fans who live in Middle Tennessee don’t fully understand the rules of hockey and the NHL. Well, I am here to help you beginning hockey fans to understand the rules of hockey.

Before we get to the rules of the NHL, let’s take a look at what a regulation NHL rink looks like from above.


The blue lines are the off-sides lines. Also, they split the rink into zones, including the offensive, defensive and neutral zone.

For a player to go offsides, one would have to enter the offensive zone before the puck and touch the puck. If a player enters the zone before the puck, but doesn’t touch the puck, it is a delayed offsides and the player would have to “tag up” at the blue line.


Icing is called when a player has not crossed the red line, in the center of the ice, and clears the puck past the red goal line. The referee will blow the whistle for icing once the opposing player touches the puck.

Goal Crease

The goal crease is the area in which a goaltender is entitled to and can not be touched unless the puck is in the crease.

If an opposing player interferes with the goalie while that player is in the crease, it is a penalty on said player.

Although, if the opposing player is in the crease, but is not touching the goaltender, the whistle will be blown and the face off will be taken outside of that zone.

Delay of Game

The delay of game call is the most infamous penalty. A player gets called for delay of game if that player is in his own defensive zone and clears the puck over the glass. That player will be given a two minute minor.

The Trapezoid

Behind the goal, there is a trapezoid. The goalie can not leave that trapezoid when going out of his net. If he leaves the trapezoid and goes into the corner, it will be a minor penalty for delay of game.


Charging is called when a player is taking more than three strides before checking an opponent. The minutes of the penalty is under the referee’s discretion.


Cross-checking is given to a player when hitting an opponent with both hands on the stick when the stick is not touching the ice.


Elbowing is a penalty when hitting an opponent with an elbow.


Holding is called when a player is clutching the opposing player’s body with hands to impede progress.

High Sticking

High Sticking is called on a player when his stick makes contact with the opposing player over shoulder level. If it the contact draws blood, the penalty is a double-minor penalty. However, if it doesn’t draw blood, it is only a minor penalty.

Also, high sticking is called if a player makes contact with a puck above the cross-bar. In which so, the result would end in a no goal, if the puck went into the net, and a face off.


Hooking is called when a player is impeding an opponent with the blade of one’s stick.


Interference is a penalty when the player is impeding the progress of an opponent not involved in playing the puck.


A player is swinging the stick at an opponent, even if contact is not made. Also, it can be called if a player is swinging the stick and breaks an opponent’s stick. The length of the penalty depends on the severity of the slash and is under the ref’s discretion.


Placing a stick or body part in such a manner that it causes an opponent to fall.


Diving is called when a player embellishes the contact with an opponent. Here is a video showing what diving is.

Too Many Men on the Ice

This penalty is called on a team when a referee catches said team with seven or more players on the ice, including goaltender. One player is sent to serve the two minute minor penalty in the penalty box.


This penalty is called when a pair of players decide to drop the gloves and fight. Both players are sent to the penalty box for 5 minutes or more.


Boarding is called when a player hits a defenseless opponent and causes the oppnent to hit the boards violently.

Checking from Behind

A check from behind is delivered to a player from the back part of his body and is not aware of the coming hit leaving the opponent defenseless.


Clipping is called when a player throws their body and makes contact with the opponent at or below the knees.


Kneeing is called when a player leads with his leg or knee making contact into the opposing player.


This is called when a player or goaltender uses their leg or foot to knock out the opponent’s feet out from under.


Spearing is called when a player uses the stick blade to stab into the opponent.

Illegal Check to the Head

This is called when a player tries or does make contact with an opponent’s head.