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Ice Hockey Penalties For Dummies


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The rules of hockey allow for many different types of penalties. Of course, any game that has blood in the rule book will probably require the intervention of the referees on a regular basis.

There are a few varieties of penalties in the sport of hockey. In addition to minor and major penalties and their variants, there are also severe misconduct penalties, game misconduct penalties, and match penalties. The rules which dictate how the penalties are enforced are complicated. What follows is a pretty basic explanation of these penalties.

Minor penalties are the most common in the game. If a player commits a common infraction, he is sent off the ice for two to four minutes of play time. His team will play minus one player for the duration of the penalty; this is called playing short-handed. If the opposing team scores a goal during the time of the penalty, the penalty ends immediately. If both teams have incurred a minor penalty, then neither is considered to be playing short handed, and so the penalty is not ended in the event a goal is scored during the time the players are off the ice; but the penalty time is cut in half upon a goal. If multiple players on a team are assessed minor penalties, they are put in to the penalty box immediately, however, the penalty time is not run down until the first player is removed from the box. If the opposing team scores a goal while there are multiple players in the penalty box, only the first minor penalty is ended. The remaining player or players will have to sit out there penalties.

Minor penalties are usually assessed for the following infractions: interference, delay of game, slashing, hooking, tripping, roughing, high-sticking, cross-checking, holding the stick, and holding. A player also incur a double minor penalty, an example of this would be high-sticking with a resulting laceration. A double minor penalty is, in essence, two consecutive minor penalties. If the opposing team scores a goal during the time a player is serving a double minor penalty then the first penalty expires, however, the second half of the double minor must be served. Another kind of minor penalty is the bench minor, which is assessed on the entire team. Any player might be selected to serve the penalty, other than the goalie.

Major penalties are assessed on more severe offences. Generally, a major penalty results in the player being removed from the ice for five minutes. Infractions that typically result in major penalties include: boarding, spearing, charging, and butt-ending. Major penalties result in the team playing short-handed for five minutes. If a goal is scored during the time a player is serving a major penalty, the penalty does not expire as it would with a minor penalty. If both teams have incurred a major penalty then they may substitute for that player and the teams do not play short handed on that penalty. Most often, major penalties are assessed for fighting.

If a player is assessed three major penalties during one game, he earns a misconduct penalty. A misconduct penalty results in the player who earned it being removed from the game for a period of ten minutes. During this time the team may substitute in another player. Once the penalty has expired, the player is able to return to the ice if the game next stops, unless he has incurred additional penalties.

Generally, misconduct is called for various types of unsportsmanlike conduct or in the event that a player has incurred two or more major penalties during one game. If a player is assessed a game misconduct penalty, he is ejected from the game. The team can immediately bring in a substitute player since the penalty was assessed against the individual player and not the team.

Any player who is ejected from the game three times during the season earns a one-game ban. Further discipline is possible in the event of subsequent ejections. If a player is banned from a game, he loses his salary for that game. Often that money is donated to a league-supported charity.

Match penalties also result in the player being ejected from the game. A match penalty is assessed if a player attempts to deliberately injure another player. The team must select any player other than the goalie to serve a five minute major penalty and he cannot be substituted for on the ice, meaning the team plays short-handed for that five minute penalty. Players who receive a match penalty are suspended from their next game and often are subjected to hearings with the possibility of lengthier bans.

Finally, if an infraction results in the opposing team missing a scoring opportunity, then the opposing team is given a penalty shot. They are allowed one unimpeded shot at the goal, with only the goalie of the offending team left to protect the net.

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