Of all the rules of the game, there are some that you really need to know to understand this game, and one of them is icing. however, it can also be one of the most confusing!!!!
what is the icing on hockey? the central red line divides the track into two halves. If any player throws the puck from either side of the center red line (the side with their goaltender) beyond the opposing side’s goal line, ice clearance is declared. this results in an automatic stoppage of play with a faceoff in the zone of the team that froze the puck.
The icing rule is not simple and has many nuances and exceptions. Let’s go over the basics before we get into all the nuances of the rule.
why was the ice rule introduced?
The ice rule was first introduced in 1937 because nhl teams had begun throwing the puck across the ice as a delaying tactic late in games when they had the upper hand.
With no breaks in play, a team could simply throw the puck to the other side of the ice and the clock would tick down burning precious seconds off the clock. this was causing great frustration among the paying spectators and the teams behind in the game.
Who wants to pay to watch players just throw the puck across the ice for the entire game?
so, the cherry on the cake!
The ice rule was implemented so that if you throw the puck onto the ice before you have reached the center red line and the puck goes past the goal line, the play will be nullified and a faceoff will occur on area. of the team that had thrown the puck across the ice.
This is seen as enough of a deterrent to not freeze the puck because teams generally don’t want to have a bunch of neutral matchups in their zone, which could give the opposition a chance to set up an offensive attack to score. .
let’s put together a diagram to make sure you understand the basics of the rule before moving on to some more specific details and exceptions around the rule:
- The first three are all examples of icing. it doesn’t matter where the puck was fired from in your half of the zone. if he shoots it before it hits the center red line, it’s still considered icing.
- the fourth example is not icing because the puck has gained the red line before it is shot past the goal line
ttwo more things to help you understand icing:
- If the puck is fired before the center red line, but misses the red goal line, then it is not icing.
- if the puck is thrown before the center red line and reaches the red goal line, the linesman has the discretion not to call a punt if he believes the opposing team had the ability to play the puck before reaching the red line. In reality, this means that a defenseman can’t just allow the puck to slowly slide to the end boards, he must make an effort to get the puck and keep the play going. In all of their rules, the NHL always tries to minimize the number of stoppages of plays – they want the play to go on as long as possible.
what is hybrid icing or contactless icing?
An important aspect of icing is that it is not automatic, the team that fired the puck through the ice can actually make the icing stop. this means that if a team that threw the puck onto the ice touches the puck first after it passes the goal line, there will be no icing.
In the past, for an ice punt to be called, the defensive player needed to touch the puck as it passed the goal line before an opposing player. What created this play was several defensive players being controlled extremely hard from behind in the puck run as they tried to get the icing called. this had caused a number of serious injuries over the years.
To prevent injuries from these plays while also keeping these runs for the puck alive, the NHL adopted the hybrid icing or no contact icing rule.
the rule is that the race is no longer to the end boards for players to touch the puck, but instead the race is to the faceoff spots in the defensive zone . if the defensive player beats the potential punt player to the faceoff spot, the referee will blow the whistle for the punt clearance. however, if the potential iconic player is ahead at the faceoff spot, the referee will allow play to continue.
at that point, whoever touches the puck will determine if it’s ice or not. if the defensive player touches it, it will be ice. however, if the team that has thrown the puck onto the ice touches it first, play will continue.
no line changes after icing
After the lockout in 2004-05, the nhl modified the icing rule to increase the consequence for the team that caused the infraction.
It was determined that teams would freeze the puck too much when they were having issues in their defensive end, either in the middle or late of a game. To reduce the number of frostings, the NHL wanted to enforce the rule.
therefore, at the beginning of the 2005-06 season it was determined that the team that blocked the puck could not make a line change after the play was whistled. this had big consequences for the team that froze the disk.
Often, the team that put ice on the puck had tired players on the ice, and now those same players would have to stay on the ice. the opposing team could switch to players who were fresh and possibly more skilled than the players who were on the ice, and all of this would occur with the faceoff just feet from their goalie! this has caused players to be more cautious about freezing the disc.
how do players learn to freeze the puck without ice?
Of course, with any rule change, players are smart enough to learn to adapt to the rule. Instead of putting ice on the puck, players have learned a little trick that gives them the benefit of putting ice on it without actually having ice on the puck.
You will notice that a player will often throw the puck up in the air and down on the ice. a puck thrown in the air will generally not have enough power to break through the ice and over the goal line, but it will have enough spin to allow the team to clear the defensive zone and make a line change.
this is essentially a frosting without any of the frosting fallout!
frosting while taking a penalty
There is one time in the game when a player can freeze the puck without stopping play: during the penalty kick. a team that is shorthanded (has fewer players on the ice) due to a penalty has the ability to freeze the puck to help stop the other teams’ power play.
A power play without the ability to freeze the puck is considered too much of an advantage. To make sure the scales don’t tip too far, the rules allow one team to ice the puck.
This allows penalty takers to change more frequently and have fresher players on the ice.
Also, the icing on the penalty kick keeps the flow of the game going. it would stand to reason that players would still freeze the puck a lot if they were shorthanded; they may not be able to change, but at least they get some rest. This would create a lot more stoppages in the game, while the NHL is always concerned with keeping the game going.
gaining the red line
The ice rule definitely has a big effect on how a hockey game is played. One of the most common things to watch out for is players trying to skate the puck up and over the center red line. this is called gaining the red line.
Once a player reaches the red line, they can now fire the puck into the other team’s defensive zone.
The win the red line strategy does two things:
- once the puck is thrown into the zone, a team will have enough time to make a line change without losing scoring opportunities
- or the team can throw the puck into the zone to try to set up an offensive forward attack to score a goal.
That’s why you see, hundreds of times a game, a player struggling to get to the red line to throw the puck into the zone.
Can goalkeepers freeze the puck?
yes, a goalie can freeze the puck. if the goalie throws the puck to the other end of the ice like any other player, it will still be called icing.
Can a goalkeeper remove the ice?
no, they can’t shake the icing, but they can prevent an icing by going out to play a puck. the fact that the goaltender comes out to play the puck or touches the puck before it crosses the goal line will break icing.
What happens if a player from the other team touches the puck?
If a player from the other team touches the puck in any way before it reaches the goal line, the punt will be removed and play will continue.
This is most often seen when the puck shoots out of the defensive zone and deflects off a member of the other team and still goes across the ice. in this case, there is no icing and the game continues.
icing on the recreational leagues
In most recreational leagues, the ice punt will simply be called automatically when the puck crosses the goal line.