Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Understanding the fundamental rules of ice hockey: A comprehensive guide

Discover the official rules of ice hockey. From how the game is played all the way to penalties, this guide offers a comprehensive overview for all ice hockey beginners.

In Canada, the first improvised matches coincided with the arrival of European populations in the mid-19th century. In 1875, the first official match was organized in Montreal.

In 1994, ice hockey became the country's national sport. Among Canada's winter sports, none ignites passion like ice hockey. National Hockey League (NHL) games are followed by millions of fans from coast to coast.

Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Basic rules

Hockey is considered one of the fastest team sports in the world. Each team simultaneously puts three attackers and two defenders on the ice, plus a goalkeeper to protect a net.

Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Main objective

The aim is to score goals by shooting a puck with a stick into the opponent's net. The team with the most goals after regulation time wins.

Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Game time and periods

A hockey match lasts 60 minutes and is divided into three 20-minute periods.

Match timing

After each period, there's a 15-minute intermission (time varies by league). In professional and top-level leagues, all 60 minutes are timed. This means that when a play is stopped by the referees, the stopwatch also stops and does not restart until the play resumes.

Overtime and shootouts

In the event of a tie after 60 minutes of normal playing time, a 5-minute overtime period is played (depending on the league). The first team to score a goal in overtime wins the match. If the game is still tied after 5 minutes, it’ll go to a shootout to determine the winning team.

Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Infractions and penalties

Hockey is a fast-paced, very physical sport. Depending on the league and the age of the players, body checking is an integral part of the game. In addition, players are allowed to throw their opponents off balance to retrieve the puck.

Different types of penalties and their consequences

In order to maintain control of a match, a referee keeps an eye on the game and calls penalties when appropriate. Common penalties are as follows:

Minor penalty: two-minute penalty served in the penalty box by the offending player (unless it was a goalkeeper). During this time, the offending team must play shorthanded. A minor penalty ends if the team on the power play scores a goal.

Obstruction: impeding an opponent who does not have the puck.

Delaying the game: deliberately delaying the game, stalling.

Tripping: a player uses their stick to cause an opposing player to fall.

Slashing: to hit the opponent or their stick with your own stick, with one or both hands.
Spearing: to strike the opponent with the tip of the stick's blade.

Holding: grabbing your opponent with your hands, arms or stick in such a way as to impede his progress.

Major penalty

The referee will call a 5-minute penalty if a player has been unreasonably aggressive or has caused injury. This penalty may also result in a player being ejected for the duration of the match.

Penalty shot

The referee may award a penalty shot when a player has a breakaway with the puck towards the opponent's net and is held up or tripped to prevent them from having the chance to score.

Once play has stopped, the person who faced interference may then leave center ice with the puck and head for the opposing net to take a free shot.

Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Time-out rules

Each team has the right to take a 30-second time-out during the match or in overtime.

Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Role of the referee and decision-making

The referee is responsible for ensuring the safety of everyone on the ice by enforcing the rules of the game. The referee supervises play, calls penalties, determines goals and handles face-offs.

Linesmen: two people who support the referee, but do not call penalties. Pointing out offsides and icing is part of their responsibilities.

Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Hockey rink: dimensions

Description of a rink

In North America, the standard size of a hockey rink is 61 by 26 meters (200 feet long and 85 feet wide).

Playing zones, markings on the ice and their meanings

The rink is divided into three zones marked by five lines.

Defensive zone: this is the part of the ice where a team’s defenders protect the net against the opposing team. The defensive zone is marked by the nearest blue line.

Neutral zone (center zone): at the center of the rink between the two blue lines. In the middle of the neutral zone, a red line as thick as the two blue lines is called the central red line.

Attacking zone: part of the ice where a team attempts to score in the opposing team's net. The attacking zone is marked by the nearest blue line.

Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Player positions

and their roles


In addition to taking face-offs, they orchestrate plays, make checks, score goals and retreats to defense, as needed.


Located to the right and left of the center, they are responsible for feeding the center and enabling them to score goals. Countering opponents' attacks and scoring goals, as well as falling back defensively, are also part of their responsibilities.


Behind the forwards, the defenders (left and right) try to prevent the opponents from scoring a goal, as well as supporting the forwards in the attacking zone to score.


Responsible for keeping the puck out of the net, blocking shots from opponents and controlling rebounds to direct them to team members.

Specific rules for goalies

The goalie is not allowed to stop the puck outside the goal crease. This will result in a penalty for delaying the game.

Comprendre les règles du hockey sur glace: Guide détaillé

Essential equipment

The right gear

Offensive and defensive players

Stick, helmet, shorts, shoulder pads, gloves, shin guards, neck guard, skates, elbow guard, jockstrap or pelvic protector (for women).


Sticks, blockers, pads, goaltender mask, gloves, skates and chest protector.

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