Basic rules of hockey

By Rebecca Trumbo
Info Guru,

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hockey player
You'l enjoy the game more when you learn the rules of hockey
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The Anaheim Ducks won the 2007 Stanley Cup in a 6-2 game-five victory against the Ottawa Senators. Did that sentence read like gibberish to you? If so, read on to learn a bit about the basics of ice hockey.

The word hockey comes from a combination of the French word hoquet, which means shepard's crook and the Middle Ductch word hokkie, which means shack or doghouse - thought to mean goal. The sport can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt but basically hails from Canada.

Hockey is a sport in which players hit a flat, circular piece of vulcanized rubber, a puck, with curved, almost L-shaped sticks into net-backed goals. Hockey players take on the added challenge of working on ice. They wear round-bladed skates to help them effectively maneuver the ice while maintaining control of the puck.

The game consists of three 20-minute periods, and the players wear protective padding and helmets. In North America, the U.S. in particular, most professional teams play for the National Hockey League or NHL. This league's major tournament is called the Stanley Cup.

Five skaters and a goalie, which stays near the goal, play on the ice at a time for each team. Additional players wait on a bench behind the boards (white boards that form a wall around the oval-shaped ice rink) and switch places with the skaters on the ice about every 45 to 60 seconds. The positions for the skaters include three forward positions - Right Wing, Left Wing and Center - and two defense positions - Left and Right.

Each hockey team also enlists the help of a coach, who develops strategies and decides which players will play which positions. Unlike basketball or football, hockey players decide most of the course of play during the game instead of following designated plays or being instructed during the game by the coach. Since most plays are somewhat spontaneous, penalties (breaking of the rules) happen easily. If a player gets a penalty, he has to sit in the penalty box, a small bench area where the player is separated from the rest of the players. During the player's penalty, his team plays one man short. The other team is said to have a 'power play.' Only two players from one team can sit out at a time; each team must have at least three skaters (not including the goalie) on the ice. If more than two players from a team get penalties at the same time, the team still only plays two men short.

Types of penalties
  • Two-minute penalties usually interfere with the flow of the game but aren't the result of an intentional injury. It includes; include taking a dive (a new form of penalty), hooking another player with a stick, roughing, tripping, having too many players on the ice and delaying the game.
  • Double penalties occur when a player performs any of the above actions but accidentally injures another player. These penalties consist of two, two-minute penalties.
  • Five-minute major penalties stem from fighting or purposely injuring another player. Extensive or repeated fighting can lead to a ten-minute major penalty, for which the penalized player must leave the ice completely (go back to the locker room, not to the penalty box).

Some of the basic rules of hockey stop the clock but do not require a penalty.
  • Icing occurs when a player sends the puck past the center red line and his opponent's red goal line without it touching another player along the way.
  • Off-sides is called when players for the offensive team cross the defensive team's blue line (called entering the zone) ahead of the puck.
People hear about hockey and think about fights and big checks, but it can be an elegant sport. Part of the beauty of the game comes from the skating grace of its more talented skaters. For instance, Wayne "the Great One" Gretzky, rarely fought or checked unnecessarily because he knew the basic rules of hockey and was a smooth enough skater and strong enough puck handler that he could move around the opposing players.

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