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A Simple Explanation of The Icing Rule in Ice Hockey

Wondering what the Icing Rule in Hockey means?

In this post we’ll attempt to explain the Icing Rule in Hockey as simply as possible.

Hopefully by the time you’ve read this you will have a full understanding of the Icing Rule.

Basic Explanation

Icing occurs when a player shoots the hockey puck from behind the centre red line across the oppositions goal line without any other player touching the puck.

Note, it is not classed as icing if the player scores a goal, there are also some other exceptions that we’ll cover in more detail below.

What is the purpose of the icing rule in hockey?

Icing is intended to make sure the game of hockey remains fun and fair.

It essentially stops players from easily getting the puck into the other teams goal area without any passing, team play or real skill.

Without the icing rule, players could simply ping the puck from one end of the rink to the other.

Are there any exceptions to icing?

As with most rules (or infractions) there are usually exceptions and icing is no different.

The most obvious one that we’ve already covered, is if a goal is scored.

In addition to scoring a goal, another exception of icing is if the opposing team is short handed.

Short handed is a term used in ice hockey to describe a team that has few players on the ice, caused by a penalty.

In the case of a team being short handed they may ice the puck in order to defend against the penalty.

The opposing team must however still abide to the icing rule.

So to be clear, the following exceptions exist;

  • The Puck enters the goal
  • The team who is icing is short handed
  • The linesman believes the player could have played the puck before it crossed the line
  • The puck is iced from a player during a playoff
  • The goal tender leaves his crease and moves towards the puck

What are the consequences of Icing?

If icing occurs then the linesman will stop play.

Play will be resumed via a face off in the defending zone.

This is only a minor penalty, however any penalty can be risky, so it’s best to avoid icing if at all possible.

The 3 Icing Variations

There are 3 different variations of icing.

  • touch icing
  • no-touch or automatic icing
  • hybrid icing

Touch icing occurs when a player on the opposing team (other than the goalie) touches the puck, causing the stoppage of play.

No-touch icing, is used in amateur leagues where play automatically stops when the puck crosses the goal line.

Hybrid icing is a little more complex and is used in the major leagues such as the NHL. Play is stopped immediately if the player on the opposing team reaches the faceoff dot as opposed to touching the puck. The intention of hybrid icing is to reduce the number of collisions along the boards, and allow the team that iced the puck the opportunity to get to it before stopping play.

Is Icing the same as offside?

No, icing and offside are two different infractions that have different rules.

An offside occurs when both of the players skates completely cross the attacking blue line before the puck has crossed.

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