[SPORTS] Rules of the game: Icing

DJ on ICE: Hockey coverage with DJ Sullivan

Rules of The Game:


I assure you this type of icing has nothing to do with the lady drink Smirnoff Ice.  If you’re new to the game of hockey the term, ‘icing’ might sound appropriate yet mysterious.  The rink is made of ice, pucks are iced down before the game, the players skate on ice, and ice sprays when a player comes to a stop.  But none of these things have anything to do with the rule called icing.  As you’ll see, icing is all about hard work and not taking the easy way out of tough situations.

Layman’s terms: Icing occurs when a player shoots the puck from his half of the rink towards the opponents net and it travels the length of the rink without touching any player.

Why is this rule in place? Icing the puck is similar to watching a soccer goalie drop kick the ball all the way down the field… Boring!  The rule makes the game more exciting.  It’s fun to watch a player skate down the rink and take on a defenseman. Watching each team taking turns blasting the puck end to end would be mind-numbing, and not something I’d pay to see.  Without icing, the game might resemble a 5 on 5 high speed tennis match.

When defending your own end of the rink, the easiest way to escape danger is to blast the puck down the rink.  Since you’re not allowed to do so defending is made more difficult, thus resulting in more goals and more exciting hockey games.

What are the consequences? Icing does not result in a two minute penalty such as other violations like slashing, tripping, roughing, or high-sticking.  Icing simply results in the game being halted, and the puck being brought back into your own zone for a face-off.

Parenting Metaphor: Instead of eating his/her vegetables your child tosses the veggies on the ground, thinking that to be an acceptable alternative to consumption.  The child must learn that the only path to dessert is to eat the veggies.  Icing is all about not taking the easy way out.  It’s not so egregious to warrant a Time Out (Penalty Box Time), but it is serious enough to make the child repeat until the desired action is achieved.

Details of Icing: As in many Baseball rules there are quirks and variations on this rule.  The most important detail is the touch-up. Once the puck has been rifled down the length of the rink, the opposing team must skate back to their end and touch the puck for icing to be enforced.  If you shoot the puck the length of the rink and are fast enough to beat the opposing team to the puck then icing is waved off (cancelled) and play continues.  The opposing team’s goalie is not eligible to touch it up. If the goalie fields the puck icing is waved off.  The touch-up rule makes for exciting (and dangerous) races down the rink.  The touch-up rule is only seen in the NHL and AHL.  All other forms of hockey including NCAA, Youth Hockey, and The Olympics do not require a touch-up due to the danger of high speed collisions that often result.

If you are shorthanded, meaning your team has a penalty and is briefly forced to play with fewer players the rule of icing does not apply.  Your team is allowed to ice the puck during the time you’re shorthanded.

If your team ices the puck your players must remain on the rink until the next face-off while the opposing team is free to change and bring in fresh players.  In the spirit of not letting you off the hook easily this rule forces tired players to remain on the rink until they can correctly extricate the puck from their own defensive end.  This detail also results in more goals being scored, which is exactly what the NHL had in mind when they added this element in 2005.

Through Thick & Thin: The Red Line(s): The puck must cross two red lines, one thick, one thin, before icing is called.  The center red line splits the rink into two equal halves.  Each icing begins with the puck being shot across the center (thick) red line.  If the puck then travels past the thin red line (goal line) found at the end of the rink, icing is called.

How can you prevent icing? What are your other options for getting the puck from your end to the attacking end of the rink?  Option 1) Take the puck yourself.  If you can skate fast and avoid body-checks feel free to skate the puck the entire 200 feet and score.  Option 2) Pass the puck.  You can’t shoot the puck ALL the way down but you can pass it PART way.  Two or three short passes between teammates usually gets you to the other end of the rink.  Option 3) Shoot it all the way down the rink and be the first one to get there.  This option takes advantage of the touch-up rule.  Option 4) Shoot the puck at the net.  Any puck shot that hits the opposing goalie or goes through the crease will not result in an icing call.  Option 5) Skate the puck into the opposing half (across the red line) AND THEN shoot the puck the rest of the way into the opposing zone.

Diagram: A – not icing.  B – icing

Referee signals:

After the puck has been shot but before a touch-up has been made, the linesman raises his arm to signal a potential icing call.

After the touch-up has been made the linesman blows his whistle to stop play and folds his arms to indicate an icing call.

The official NHL version of the rule is located at, http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=26494

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