What Is Icing In Hockey? The Ultimate Truth

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What is Icing in Hockey


Ever thought about why icing is so rampant in hockey? Or maybe, you are not sure what it is. Well, you are not alone, as many things surrounding this strategy have remained a mystery for many people. As such, it becomes a little hard to know what icing in hockey entails.

Fortunately, you have come to the right place. We take a look at some of the most invaluable aspects you should always have in mind regarding this strategy. Read with us!

What is icing in hockey?

There is barely a one-dimensional answer to this. However, one thing stands out. Icing is a hockey strategy where a player dumps the puck from their defensive half behind the centerline across the opposing team’s goal line. The idea is that no player touches this puck before it gets to the other end.

This strategy came in place to help prevent time wastage during games. It is no secret that most teams tend to waste time, especially when they have better scores or the scores are close. With this penalty, the play will remain relatively seamless.

Usually, once the puck crosses the line and the opposing team member retrieves it, an icing gets called. Most people consider it a delay tactic, as it results in the stoppage of the game. However, it aims to encourage the continuity of play.

Here are the three things that must hold for an icing in hockey to occur.

1. One player shoots the puck from their defensive half across the red center line
2. The puck lands into the offensive zone and crosses the goal line.
3. A player from the opposing team, except the goalie, touches the puck.

Ideally, upon icing the puck, the referee will stop the game with the non-whistle hand placed over his head. Next, there will be a face-off in the offending team’s defensive area. During this time, the back official will move to the defensive zone to give an icing signal.

This strategy often plays a significant role in slanting the game toward the offense. With that, it is no surprise that the defense will feel constrained at this time. Typically, it forces the team to pass the puck up to the red line before shooting it to the opposing team’s end.

Well, most people might feel that it is a straightforward strategy with impressive results. However, this might not be true at all times. The opposing team will often have a counter approach that prevents icing and gets the puck back. With this, you are confident of enjoying a more dynamic and even exciting game in the long run.

It will be fair to mention that icing in hockey is reliant on geography and not necessarily intent. Whether it was a desperate move or an adequately calculated strategy, the treatment remains the same.

In What Situation Is Icing in Hockey Necessary?

There is no denying that icing in hockey results from exceptional circumstances. In the NHL, three occurrences could push for this icing. They will include the following.

i. Tight races

Usually, icing will occur when a player on the team that had dumped the puck is way too close. That means the players will be at almost similar distances. If the players are close to one another, the icing gets called early for the sake of their safety. Otherwise, the linesman will barely call for the icing until the last action gets finished in a contra situation.

ii. When it is clear

There are instances when the puck is iced, and whichever team that did not shoot gets there first. In such situations, the icing gets called before the player reaches the puck. That means the face-off will happen in the zone of the offending team.

iii. When Players from the shooting teams are close to the puck

It is no surprise that a shooting team’s player could be relatively close to the puck and reach it first. In this case, the icing gets waved off without compromising the play. For this reason, it is a strategy that will most likely work better for teams with relatively fast players.

Variations of Icing in Hockey

Did you know that there are variations in icing in hockey? Understanding the distinction will always come in handy in ensuring you enjoy the game better. Usually, the choice will be among the three options available. They will include hybrid, no-touch, touch, and hybrid icing. Here are a few insights into each of them.

i. No-touch icing

You could also refer to it as an automatic icing. Besides being a basic version of the rule, it is one of the easiest to understand. This variation implies that the game will automatically stop once the puck gets over the goal line from behind the centerline. The only catch is that no player should have touched the puck. This version is prevalent in college and high school hockey. However, a few professional leagues in Europe have also embraced it.

ii. Touch icing

This version requires an opposing team player to touch the puck once it crosses the goal line. The only exception would be the goalkeeper. As long as the puck crosses the line and gets touched by any player, the game resumes. That implies the icing call gets waived.

On the other end, the puck can be sent from behind the centerline. That means there is a potential call for icing. In this instance, the referee will raise the arm to indicate that the icing infringement is awaiting. The referee can only initiate this call if a player from the defensive team touches it.

It will be fair to mention that this version barely exists today, thanks to the safety concerns it raises. Most professional leagues consider it dangerous and avoiding this version has proven to be the safest way out.

iii. Hybrid

This version is the newest kid on the block, bearing close semblance to the touch icing strategy. The only difference is that it eliminates the need to go after the puck behind the goal line. That means the call happens when a player from the defensive side reaches the face-off zone before one from the shooting team.

On the other hand, if a player from the team that iced the puck gets to the circle first, then play will automatically resume. With that, the icing call gets waived too.

It is no secret that this version aims to enhance safety in the game. While it is relatively inconsistent and unclear, it assures you of a more dynamic play in the long run. Perhaps, that is why it has become popular across various professional leagues across the globe.

Is Icing a Strategy for the Defense of the Offense

Usually, icing in hockey tends to benefit both the offensive and the defensive teams. This rule tends to disrupt the momentum, threat, and even harmony of the attacking team. Thanks to the game’s pausing, the defensive team gets enough time to organize themselves and counter the attack.

Changing Players after an Icing Call

Various rules are in place regarding changing players after an icing call in the game. The law is that the team that dumped the puck must remain in the face-off circle in their defensive zone. That means there will hardly be any changes once an icing call has been made.

Usually, this rule comes in handy in preventing teams from changing tired players. While this rule has been in place for less than two decades, it has seen significant improvements and sanity in the game.

Typically, it focuses on enhancing the agility and speed of players during the game. It also plays a vital role in promoting more offense in professional matches. That is because it will force the players to get out of their comfort zone and defend accordingly. Nothing could encourage them to remain focused more than the chance to prevent goals from getting in.

Are there instances When Icing Is not Enforced?

Yes, this rule has its exceptions. Various instances suffice when it will be wrong to enforce the icing call in a game. They will often include the following.

•1. When the linesman holds that the opposing team might have played the puck before crossing the goal line.

•2. When there is a face-off.

•3. In case the team that is icing the puck seems shorthanded after committing a penalty.

•4. When the puck is short on the rink and gets into the net.

•5. If the puck gets played by the goalie.

•6. In instances when the offensive player gets to this puck before any of the defensive players does.

It is no secret that icing is a critical element of the dynamism of hockey. It is not only pivotal but also a punitive rule in the game. Remember, it will always be an uphill task to face off with the opposing team in its offensive zone instead of a neutral area. However, you will appreciate how critical it will be for the team in improving the chances of scoring.

Hockey Rules

Various rules in hockey will always suffice. And fortunately, they can only make the game more exciting. Here are a few rules you should keep in mind.

• Offsides

It happens when an attacking team member goes before the puck over the defending team’s blueline.

• Overtime

It is a five-minute sudden-death period that follows a tie score during the standard regulation play.

• Face-offs

The players must take specific positions around one of the face-off circles, with only two players inside it.

• Closing hand on the puck

Players must knock or place a puck on the ice once they catch it. The only exception is the goalie.

• Power play

It is when one team has more players than the other, thanks to one of them serving a penalty

• Shootout

Teams can only take up to three shots in an alternating fashion.

Penalties in Hockey

There is no denying that penalties will always be part of the game. Notably, hockey comes with minor, major, match, misconduct, and delayed penalties. Each type of punishment has a different weight.

Minor penalties barely cause infractions, and they result in a player losing two minutes. The player leaves the ice and remains in the penalty box for this duration. Conversely, major penalties might cause severe infractions and attract a five-minute stay in the penalty box.

While match penalties result in the player’s ejection from the game, misconduct penalties force a player to be in the penalty box for ten minutes. Delayed penalties often happen when the referee decides against the stoppage of play until the offending team touches the puck.

Rule 624

This rule boasts of specific provisions, including the following.

This rule stipulates that when a player shoots a puck from his half to beyond the opposing team’s goal line, play shall stop. There will be a face-off in the defending team’s zone. However, if the puck enters the goal, the goal shall stand.

Icing shall not hold on the following grounds.

• 1. When the offending team is shorthanded.

• 2. If the puck shot by an attacking player rebounds off the body of a defending player.

• 3. In case the puck goes the length of the ice after a player participated in the face-off.

• 4. When the puck touches any part of a player, their stick, or skates.

• 5. If an opposing player has the chance to play the puck but has not taken it up.

The rule also suggests that any unnecessary contact with an opponent attempting to play the puck results in a penalty.


Q: What does icing in hockey mean?

Icing in hockey is an infraction where a team player shoots the pluck from his half to the opposing team’s goal line. It can only hold if no player touches during its flight.

Q: Why is icing in hockey a problem?

Icing is a strategy embraced by teams that barely want to play defense. It does wastes not only time but also affects the flow and momentum of the game. Unless countered, it could compromise the quality of play.

Q: Why was the icing rule introduced?

The icing rule came into force in 1987. It aimed at alleviating the delaying tactics and time wastage embraced by teams with better scores or when the score is quite close.

Q: What is a no-touch or hybrid icing?

No-touch icing is a variation in icing where the play will stop automatically once the pluck crosses the goal line. That means there will be no need for a player to touch it for it to suffice.

Q: Can goalies ice the puck?

No. Usually, the icing call gets waived off whenever the goalie touches the puck.

Q: What if the player from an opposing team touches the puck?

When a member of the opposing team touches the puck, the play will barely stop. That is because the icing call gets waived off in this instance too.

Q: Is icing called on face-offs?

The simple answer to this is no, as face-offs seem to create a sense of shorthandedness.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, you can hardly overlook how significant the icing infraction is on the game. Thankfully, these icing rules have come in handy to cut on time wastage and avoid delay tactics. As long as you have a few insights into this rule, you are sure of enjoying the game even more. How about you start today!

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