What is Icing in Hockey

To the untrained eye, hockey is a fast sport where players skate around and hit one another, chasing a puck. However, in this sport, there are numerous intricate rules that players need to follow, including how to hit and where the puck is allowed to go.

A lot of people will ask, “What is icing in hockey?” The truth is, it’s a fairly simple rule. Icing is an ice hockey penalty that occurs when a defensive player fires the puck from the defensive zone beyond the center red line (center ice). When the puck travels from the defensive zone before the center ice red line unimpeded past the goal opposing goal line.

There is no time in the penalty box for icing alone, however, the icing infraction is still considered a penalty. Linesman judges are required to stop play when icing is called. It results in a face-off back in the defensive zone, the offending team cannot change lines(must use tired players that were on the ice when the icing occurred).

Ice Hockey Linesman - Icing

The NHL rule does have ways to be canceled out. For instance, if the defending player who iced the puck actually scores a goal, it’s a goal and not icing. You also cannot ice the puck while the opposing team is on a power play, or if you’re a shorthanded team.

Icing can also be waved off by the linesmen if the goalie could have played the puck, or made an attempt to play the puck.  It also can’t be called icing off the drop on a face off. Furthermore, an icing call can’t occur if it’s shot over the center red line.

Hockey Rink Icing - Explained

When Was The Icing Rule Introduced

Icing has been in hockey for a long time, beginning in September of 1937. For a long time before this, it had become a delaying tactic for the opposing player to ice the puck by firing it down ice from the defensive zone to kill the clock and defend a lead. The icing rule is designed to prevent this.

What is the No-Touch Icing Rule

There are variations to the icing rule that are important to understand. There is touch icing, where a player needs to touch the puck beyond the goal line for it to count as icing. If a player on the team who iced the puck touches it first, then play continues.

Hybrid icing and no-touch icing are both designed to limit collisions that occur in touch icing. Hybrid icing acts like a race, where icing is called if the defending player crosses the face-off dot first. No-touch icing, on the other hand, simply requires that the puck crosses the goal line for it to be icing.

No-touch icing is widely considered the safest version of the rule in place. For their part, the National Hockey League uses the hybrid icing rule.

What Happens After Icing

An icing leads to a face-off in the defensive zone of the team who iced the puck. The offending team can’t make a line change, while the opposing team is allowed to. This can create an issue for teams who are fatigued and tired in the defensive end going up against fresh players on the offense. The defensive team is also not allowed to call timeout.

If a defensive player could get off the ice or take a break, then the icing infraction might be worth it for the team committing the infraction. So, by forcing them to leave the same players on the ice, then they are incentivized not to ice the puck.

The standard face-off location is the defending spot of the attacking team. However, if there is a delayed penalty as well, then the face-off would occur from the neutral spot of the attacking team.

Hockey Icing FAQs

What does icing mean in hockey?

Icing refers to a player in their defensive zone or behind the red line in ice hockey shooting past the opposing goal line, without being touched or going into the net. It’s considered a penalty.

What happens when a player commits icing?

The offending team can’t make a line change or call timeout, and there is a face-off in their defensive zone.

Does icing result in a power play?

No, icing alone will not result in a power play.


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