The Playing Surface
- The ice sheet is commonly known as the rink.
- The rink is divided into zones by a red line at center ice and two blue lines.
- A standard North American rink measures 200 feet by 85 feet.
- The ice is enclosed by boards and Plexiglas.
- The ice surface is divided into three zones.
- The area where the goal net is located is the "defending zone" for the team defending that net.
- The middle of the rink, between two blue lines, is the "neutral zone."
- The area where the opposing net is located is the "attacking zone" or "offensive zone."
- The puck is made of black, vulcanized rubber.
- A standard puck measures one inch thick and three inches in diameter, and weighs between 5.5 and 6 ounces.
- The puck can be moved with the hockey stick or the feet, but picking it up with the hands is illegal.
- A cage measuring four feet tall and six feet wide, strung with nylon mesh in the back.
- There are two nets at opposite ends of the ice, guarded by the goaltenders.
- Each team has six players on the ice, one goaltender and five "skaters".
- The five have assigned positions: three forwards and two defensemen.
- Regardless of assigned positions, all players except the goaltender can go anywhere on the ice.
- The goaltender cannot cross the center ice red line that divides the rink in half.
- Substitutions are unlimited and can be made at any time.
- A substitution does not require an official's permission, or a stoppage in play.
- A player can join the game "on the fly" - during the flow of play - as long as the departing player is within five feet of the bench and not involved in the play or with an opponent.
- The game begins when the referee drops the puck between two opposing forwards.
- During the faceoff all other players are positioned on the defensive side of the puck.
- The faceoff is used to resume play following any stoppage in the game.
- There are nine designated faceoff spots painted on the ice.
- A player can use a shoulder, hip or torso to hit or impede an opponent, but only when the opponent is in possession of the puck.
- A body check that targets the head is illegal.
- A body check to an opponent's back is illegal if the opponent is facing the boards.
Note that the difference between a legal check and a penalty is open to interpretation, and remains a source of dispute among fans, players, and everyone else involved in the game.
Minor penalties are called for obstructing an opponent. Infractions include:
- A player charged with a minor penalty is sent off the ice for two minutes, with no substitution allowed.
- The penalty ends immediately if a goal is scored by the opposing team.
Penalties are called for dangerous use of the stick, including:
- Tripping (with the stick or knee)
- Holding (with stick or hands)
- Hooking (with stick)
- Interference (checking or impeding a player without the puck)
- High-sticking (hitting an opponent in the head or face)
- Cross-checking (hitting an opponent with the shaft of the stick)
Penalties are called for dangerous physical fouls, including:
- Checking from behind
- Roughing (broadly defined; usually involves a wrestling or shoving match)
- A player charged with a major penalty is sent of the ice for five minutes.
- The most common major penalty is fighting. If both fighters receive five-minute penalties, substitutions can be made.
- At the referee's discretion, an infraction commonly deemed a minor penalty can be increased to a major. This usually occurs if an opponent has been seriously injured, or if the referee believes there was a deliberate attempt to injure.
- A player charged with a major penalty involving serious injury or attempt to injure is ejected from the game.
- If a penalized player is ejected, a teammate is assigned to serve his major penalty. No substitution is allowed.
If a player precedes the puck into the offensive zone, play is called and a faceoff takes place in the neutral zone
If the puck crosses the opposing goal line untouched, and is then retrieved by an opposing player, icing is called.
Shooting the puck to the end of the ice from behind the center ice red line
Considered a delaying tactic, it results in a stoppage in play and a faceoff in the offending team's
If, in the opinion of the linesman, any player of the opposing team is able to play the puck before it passes his goal line, but does not do so, the linesman can "wave off" icing, allowing play to continue.
The purpose of the rule is to encourage continuous action. Referees and Linesmen interpret and apply the rule to produce that result
Three goals scored by one player in a single game. When the three goals are scored consecutively, uninterrupted by any other scoring, it is called a "natural hat trick."