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Hockey rink


Hockey rink

Ice hockey portal

An ice hockey rink is an ice rink that is specifically designed for ice hockey, a team sport. It is rectangular with rounded corners and surrounded by a wall approximately 40-48 inches (1 m) high called the boards.

Name origins

Rink, a Scottish word meaning 'course', was used as the name of a place where another game, curling, was played. Early in its history, ice hockey was played mostly on rinks constructed for curling. The name was retained after hockey-specific facilities were built.[1]


There are two standard sizes for hockey rinks: one used primarily in North America, the other used in the rest of the world.


Hockey rinks in most of the world follow the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) specifications, which is 61 metres (200 ft) × 30.5 metres (100 ft) with a corner radius of 8.5 metres (28 ft). The distance from the end boards to the nearest goal line is 4 metres (13 ft). The distance from each goal line to the nearest blue line is 17 metres (56 ft). The distance between the two blue lines is also 17 metres (56 ft).[2]

North American

Most North American rinks follow the National Hockey League (NHL) specifications of 61 metres (200 ft) × 26 metres (85 ft) with a corner radius of 8.5 metres (28 ft).[3] The distance from the end boards to the nearest goal line is 3.35 metres (11.0 ft). The NHL attacking zones are expanded, with blue lines 19.5 metres (64 ft) from the goal line and 15.3 metres (50 ft) apart.[4]


The rink specifications originate from the ice surface of the Victoria Skating Rink in Montréal, constructed in 1862, where the first indoor game was played in 1875. Its ice surface measured 62.2 metres (204 ft) × 24.3 metres (80 ft). The curved corners are considered to originate from the design of the Montreal Arena, also in Montreal, constructed in 1898.



The centre line divides the ice in half crosswise. It is used to judge icing, meaning that if a team sends the puck across the centre line (red line), blue line and then across the goal line (that is to say, shoots or dumps the puck past the goal line from behind their own side of the centre line) it is said to be icing. It is a thick line, and in the NHL must "contain regular interval markings of a uniform distinctive design, which will readily distinguish it from the two blue lines." When discussing differences in the rules of the game, it is often said that a game is played with no red line. This simply means that there is no two-line pass violation. The centre line is still used to judge icing violations.

There are two thick blue lines that divide the rink into three parts, called zones. These two lines are used to judge if a player is offside. If an attacking player crosses the line into the other team's zone prior to the puck crossing, he is said to be offside.

Near each end of the rink, there is a thin red goal line spanning the width of the ice. It is used to judge goals and icing calls.

Faceoff spots and circles

There are 9 faceoff spots on a hockey rink. Most faceoffs take place at these spots. There are two spots in each end zone, two at each end of the neutral zone, and one in the centre of the rink.

There are faceoff circles around the centre ice and end zone faceoff spots. There are hash marks painted on the ice near the end zone faceoff spots. The circles and hash marks show where players may legally position themselves during a faceoff or in game play,

Spot and circle dimensions

Both the center faceoff spot and center faceoff circle are blue. The spot is a solid blue circle 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. Within the spot is a center, a circle 30 feet (9.1 m) in diameter, painted with a blue line 2 inches (5.1 cm) in width.

All of the other faceoff spots have outlines 2 inches (5.1 cm) thick, forming a circle 2 feet (0.61 m) in diameter measured from the outsides of the outlines, and are filled in with red in all areas except for the 3 inches (7.6 cm) space from the tops and bottoms of the circles, measured from the insides of the outline.

Goal posts and nets

At each end of the ice, there is a goal consisting of a metal goal frame and cloth net in which each team must place the puck to earn points. According to NHL and IIHF rules, the entire puck must cross the entire goal line in order to be counted as a goal.

Goal area

The crease is a special area of the ice designed to allow the goaltender to perform his or her duties without interference. In most leagues, goals are disallowed if an attacking player enters the goal crease with a stick, skate, or any body part before the puck. For the purposes of this rule, the crease extends vertically from the painted lines to the top of the goal frame. The rule preventing goals while an attacking player is in the crease was eliminated from the NHL and other North American professional leagues beginning in the 1999-2000 season.

In amateur and international hockey, the goal crease is a half circle with radius of 6 ft (1.8 m). In the NHL and North American professional leagues, this goal crease is truncated by straight lines extending from the goal line 1 ft (30.5 cm) outside each goal post. In the NHL, two red lines 2 inches (5.1 cm) in width extend 5 inches (13 cm) into the goal crease, parallel to the goal line.

Goaltender trapezoid

During the 2004-05 American Hockey League (AHL) season, an experimental rule was implemented for the first seven weeks of the season, instituting a goaltender trap zone, more commonly called the trapezoid in reference to its shape. Under the rule, it is prohibited for the goaltender to handle the puck anywhere behind the goal line that is not within the trapezoidal area. If they do so they are assessed a minor penalty for delay of game.

The motivation for the introduction of the trapezoid was to promote game flow and prolonged offensive attacks by making it more difficult for the goaltender to possess and clear the puck. The rule was aimed at reducing the effectiveness of goaltenders with good puck-handling abilities, most notably Martin Brodeur and Marty Turco.[5]

The area consists of a centred, symmetrical trapezoid. The bases of the trapezoid are formed by the goal line and the end boards. The base on the goal line measures 18 feet (5.5 m) and the base on the end boards measures 28 feet (8.5 m).

The seven-week experiment proved so successful that the AHL moved to enforce the rule for the rest of the season, and then was approved by the NHL when play resumed for the 2005-06 season following the previous lockout. The ECHL, the only other developmental league in the Professional Hockey Players Association (along with the AHL) also approved the rule for 2005-06.

Referee's crease

The referee's crease is a semicircle ten feet in radius in front of the scorekeepers bench. Under USA Hockey rule 601(d)(5), any player entering or remaining in the referee's crease while the referee is reporting to or consulting with any game official may be assessed a misconduct penalty. The USA Hockey casebook specifically states that the imposition of such a penalty would be unusual, and the player would typically first be asked to leave the referee's crease before the imposition of the penalty.[6] The NHL has a similar rule, also calling for a misconduct penalty.[7] Traditionally, captains and alternate captains are the only players allowed to approach the referee's crease.


The blue lines divide the rink into three zones. The central zone is called the neutral zone or simply centre ice. The generic term for the outer zones is end zones, but they are more commonly referred to by terms relative to each team. The end zone in which a team is trying to score is called the attacking zone or offensive zone; the end zone in which the team's own goal net is located is called the defending zone or defensive zone.

The blue line is considered part of whichever zone the puck is in. Therefore, if the puck is in the neutral zone, the blue line is part of the neutral zone. It must completely cross the blue line to be considered in the end zone. Once the puck is in the end zone, the blue line becomes part of that end zone. The puck must now completely cross the blue line in the other direction to be considered in the neutral zone again.

Half boards

In a hockey rink, the half boards are the areas along the side boards half-way between the blue line and the goal line, roughly from the hash marks to the top of the faceoff circle.


Upright bars located at the ends of the team benches.

See also



  • 2002–06 International Ice Hockey Federation Official Rule Book. (pdf)
  • 2003–05 Official Rule Book of Hockey Canada. (pdfs)
  • 2005–07 Official Rules and Casebook of Ice Hockey. USA Hockey. (pdf)
  • National Hockey League Rulebook.

External links

  • NHL Official Rules: Rule 1 - Rink
  • Canada
  • Hockey Arenas in Europe
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