Ice Hockey 101: A Beginner’s Guide

In recent years, ice hockey has rapidly increased in popularity throughout the UK. As the sport has grown and developed, so too has its British fan-base.

From its family friendly atmosphere to its blistering pace and action-packed style, ice hockey has built a loyal UK following and continually draws new admirers to the sport.

With the game growing at a great rate, more and more people are looking to get involved, that be by going to watch their local team for the first team, or by actually learning to play themselves.

If you are one of the many people who want to dive into ice hockey, then this beginners guide is the perfect place for you to brush-up on your knowledge of one of the world’s most exciting sports;

The Basics:

Ice hockey is fast and furious. It’s a full contact sport which demands pace, agility, poise, vision and finesse from its players.

Ice hockey is played with six players (five skaters and one goaltender) from each team on the ice at any one time, with unlimited substitutions. The aim; to score more goals than your opponent by firing a puck into their net.

Players use specialist equipment including skates, helmet (with visor or cage), mouth guard, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, shin pads, hockey socks, a hockey jersey and of course, a hockey stick.


The Team:

Generally, each team carries between 15 to 20 players in their roster. Of these players, only one goaltender, two defenceman and three forwards are allowed on the ice at any one time.

Ice Hockey Positions.png


An ice hockey game consists of three twenty minute periods with two fifteen minute intervals between them.

If a game is drawn after 60 minutes, then a five minute overtime period is played. If no goals are scored during overtime, a penalty shootout will be played to determine a winner.

The Game:

If a player is penalised for an offence, they are sent to the penalty box (‘the sin bin’) for a set number of minutes.

There are two types of penalties in ice hockey; minors and majors. Minor penalties are usually two minutes, with major penalties usually being five minutes.

When a team gets a penalty against them, they play a man down and are said to be on the ‘penalty kill’, with the opposing team on the ‘powerplay’. If the team on the ‘powerplay’ scores; then the penalty is immediately cancelled and the offending player returns to the ice (this only applies to minor penalties).

The Offside Rule:

The puck must pass into the offensive zone before a player of the attacking team does, otherwise the team is offside.



When a player on his own side of the centre red line shoots the puck past the opposite goal line without it being deflected, touching a player or passing through the blue goal crease.


It is well known that, during an ice hockey match, players sometimes disagree and fancy a little scrap. When this takes place, the players involved receive a penalty for fighting (which is usually five minutes, a major penalty) and cannot participate in the game during this penalty. However, their respective teams do not lose a player because of the fight.












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