Icing is a rule that is in place to penalize teams
who like to just shoot the puck down the ice when they are in trouble by
having the next face-off take place in their end zone. Icing also forces teams to move the puck up the ice over the
centre red line before they are allowed to dump the puck into the
opposing team’s end zone. It
is a way to have players use each other and play as a team instead of
having players just dumping the puck down the ice and chasing after it.
The Centre Red Line
centre red line is critical in determining whether or not an Icing is
going to take place. By the
letter of the law, a player must release the puck over the centre red
line (on the half of the ice that contains the opposing team’s net) in
order to nullify the Icing call.
anyone who watches hockey knows that linesman will tend to give a bit of
leeway when calling icings.
don’t linesmen simply call it “by the book”?
main reason is to keep the flow of the game going.
If a player is about to be, or is being checked, by an opposing
player, and he releases the puck close to the red line but not quite
over it, then the Linesman may wave the Icing off and allow play to
continue. However if a
player is all alone and all he has to do is take one more stride to
nullify the Icing,then a Linesman may call this an Icing infraction
because the player was just being lazy and the Linesman may want to send
a message to the teams, “If you’re going to be lazy, you will be
main thing for a Linesman is to be consistent.
If the players, coaches, and fans see a Linesman allowing the
one-foot leeway then he had better call it this way for the remainder of
the game and for both teams. If
the Linesmen are consistent then they will most likely have very little
complaining from the players and coaches about their icing judgment.
Icing On The Power Play & Last Few Minutes
Of A Game
just mentioned that a Linesman must be consistent throughout a game,
this consistency may change from time to time depending on how the game
is developing. The Linesman may be consistent when both teams are playing at
even strength (5 on 5, 4 on 4, or 3 on 3), but he may call it tighter
when a team is on a power play or in the last few minutes of a game.
This has to do with Game Management and is something that an
official develops with experience.
a team is on a power play you may see the Linesman decide to call an
Icing on the exact same situation that has been allowed to occur
throughout the game. For instance, he may have been allowing leeway of
about six inches to the red line all game and then decide to call a
particular play an icing. Have you ever wondered why? The main reason is
likely that the team is already on a power play, meaning that they
already have an advantage, so why would the Linesmen give another
advantage to this team. Coaches
know this and so do the players who are thinking about what they are
doing. The unwritten rule when it comes to icing is that when a team
is on a power play, they had better get the puck over the red line or at
least on the red line before they dump the puck into the opposing
team’s end zone. There
is no reason why a team on a power play cannot pass the puck or carry
the puck over the centre red line before dumping the puck into the end
zone. There will always be one man open
same thing occurs as the game progresses, especially in the last few
minutes of a game. You may
notice that the Linesmen call the Icings tighter in the last few
minutes, but this usually depends on the score of the game as well.
Again, the rule of thumb that all coaches and players realize is
that the closer the score, the tighter the Icings might be called.
If a team is down by three goals and they release the puck a foot
away from the red line, the Linesmen may wave it off because there is
very little chance that a team down by three or four goals is going to
come back to win or at least tie the game with only a few minutes left
the game is tied, however, you are more likely to see the Linesmen make
the players at least release the puck on the red line if not over the
red line or risk an icing call. The reason for this is that if you allow
a team to have a one foot or so leeway in the last few minutes, this
usually tends to “nip you in the butt” as a Linesman.
It seems to never fail that as soon as a Lineman waves this off,
that team always tends to score a goal and then the team who was just
scored on will put up a valid argument.
Linesmen will try to maintain their consistency throughout a game,
however this consistency may change from situation to situation, but in
those situations the Linesmen will be as fair and consistent as
possible. For example, the
linesman will try to enforce the icing situations on all power plays the
same way throughout the game. During even strength situations, he will
be consistent in his leeway. During power plays he will be consistent in
his lack of leeway. The players must adjust.
The Goal Line
centre red line is the determining factor as to if an Icing might be
called or signaled. The
other line used in the equation is the Goal Line (the two inch red line
that runs parallel to the end boards on which the posts of the net
rest). If the puck is shot
from behind the centre red line (the half of the ice of the team
shooting the puck) and goes down the ice without touching any player,
then the Linesman will signal an Icing the moment that the puck
completely crosses over the Goal line.
Linesmen’s Signals On Icing Calls
Linesman who determines whether or not the player has released the puck
over the red line will either raise one of his arms straight up in the
air and yell something like “Ice” or “Icing” to let his partner
know that a potential Icing may take place, or he will ‘Wave’ off
the Icing by extending his arms perpendicular to his body (making a
“T” shape with his body). The
Linesman making this original signal is known as the back Linesman.
Front Linesman’s signals are the exact same as the back Linesman’s
signals. His arm will go straight up in the air after he blows the
whistle (note his arm does not go up until after he blows the whistle)
to signal an Icing, or he will ‘Wave-off’ the Icing if the puck
contacted a player; if he feels that a player of the defending team
could have touched or played the puck as it passed by them; or if he
feels the defending player did not make enough of an effort to reach the
puck before it crossed the goal line.
Numerical Strength – Short Handed Situations
is not called on a team killing a penalty.
example, let’s say that the Blue team is assessed a minor penalty for
tripping and will be required to play one man short for the next two
minutes, assuming that the other team does not score during these next
two minutes. This means
that the Blue team will have 4 skaters on the ice plus a goalie and the
Red team will be on the power play because they have 5 skaters plus a
goalie on the ice. Therefore,
the Blue team is killing a penalty and is now allowed to “Ice” the
puck for the time that they are killing the penalty.
means that the Blue team can take the puck from anywhere on the ice and
shoot it the length of the ice without being penalized in the form of a
face-off in their end zone as would happen if the teams were at even
reason for this is that when a team is killing a penalty, they are at a
disadvantage because the other team has more players on the ice.
On most power plays the majority of the play takes place in the
end zone of the team killing the penalty.
By allowing them to shoot, bat, or kick the puck down the entire
length of the ice this in a way alleviates a bit of the disadvantage and
for the most part allows them to change their players or get a moment to
catch their breath before the pressure is put back on them.
What Happens When The Penalty Is Up!
a team is killing a penalty the players on that team are allowed to
“Ice the puck” without having a face-off take place in their end
zone for such an action. Nevertheless,
the team is allowed to do so only up to the moment that the penalty time
on the clock runs down to zero.
most arenas, once the penalty time has expired the time will disappear
from the clock completely. As
soon as the penalty time disappears from the penalty clock the team
killing the penalty will no longer be allowed to “Ice the puck”
without having the next face-off take place in their own end zone.
main thing to understand is that as soon as that time is off of the
clock, the team can no longer ice the puck.
If a player of the team killing a penalty releases the puck from
his stick while there is still time on the clock then no icing will be
called. If he releases the
puck after the penalty time on the clock has disappeared then Icing will
too often officials hear the argument that the puck crossed the goal
line after the penalty time on the clock had disappeared, so why was it
not Icing? Very simply, the Linesmen are to look at when the puck was
released from the stick, not when the puck crossed the goal line.
As long as there is still penalty time up on the clock, the team
killing the penalty will be allowed to release the puck and send it the
length of the ice without having a face-off take place in their end
zone. It is quite possible that the penalized player may step onto the
ice prior to the puck crossing the goal line, but if the puck was
released before the time expired, it will not be called icing.
is a very important point to remember. All too often a coach who is
unaware of the rule will start arguing with the linesman. Then when the
referee asks the coach to settle down, another battle ensues. As this is
happening the fans get into it and the players become more aggressive.
All of this because the coach does not know the rule. The rest of the
game may turn ugly as a result and turn what could have been a good
experience into a bad one. Knowledge is a wonderful thing and in this
case, it is so easy to acquire.
final factor to consider in determining whether to call an Icing
is if the puck actually crosses over the Goal line without going
into the net. If the puck
goes into the net on a potential icing then a goal will be awarded. This
most often happens near the end of a game when one team pulls their
goalie to get an extra skater on the ice in an attempt to put more
pressure on the team that is winning the game.
team with, for instance, five skaters and their goalie will try to shoot
the puck at the empty net (team with six skaters and no goalie) in the
hopes that the puck will enter the net and put them up by another goal.
This is perfectly legal and is the extra risk that a team takes
when pulling their goalie for an extra skater. If it misses the net then
an icing will be called and the face-off will be held in the defending
people who are new to the game have trouble understanding why an icing
will be called when a team has five skaters to the other team’s six.
They argue that the other team has an extra skater on the ice so Icing
should not be called. In
essence, they are right, but wrong at the same time.
The other team may have six skaters to
five skaters but don’t forget about the goalie.
When you add your goalie, you have six players on the ice to the
other club’s six players. For
the purpose of the numerical strength issue, you must always include the
goalie when determining how many players are on the ice, not just the
skaters (forwards and defence).
team has the right to pull its goalie at any time during the game. There
are some coaches who have been known to pull their goalie in the first
period when they get a two-man advantage. This gives them six skaters to
the penalized team’s three skaters – a tremendous offensive
It Hit The Post!
situation that arises from time to time is that the puck will pass
through the crease, hit the post, and then proceed over the Goal line.
This is still considered “Icing”.
the past, many old timers will recall, if the puck passed through the
crease the Icing would be waved off.
This rule is no longer in effect.
If the puck passes through or touches any part of the crease the
potential for an Icing call will still be in effect. Many of the more
experienced coaches and fans still think the old rule is in effect and
you will often hear shouts of disagreement when a linesman calls an
icing after a puck passes through a corner of the crease.
a potential Icing is not an Icing until the puck completely passes over
the Goal line. So, even if
the puck hits the edge of the goal post and crosses over the goal line,
it is “Icing”. It does
not matter if the puck strikes the goal post before crossing over the
goal line. As long as the
puck does not hit the goalie in the crease, the Icing will still be
called if it proceeds over the goal line after hitting the post and
stays outside the net.
Judgment: “He Could Have Played It!”
seems pretty straightforward but it is very much a judgment call by the
Linesmen. Icing is not
just, “did the player release the puck before the Centre Red Line?”
or “Did the puck completely cross over the Goal Line?”
There are about 90 feet between these lines that play a big part
in whether or not an Icing infraction will be called.
first judgment comes when the player releases the puck.
Was the player over the centre red line or at least close enough
for it to be waved off or was the player too far away from the red line
for the Icing to be ignored?
second judgement comes after the Back Linesman has raised his arm to
signal a potential Icing infraction.
It is now up to the front Linesman will make a judgement as to
whether or not a player of the team whose end the puck was just shot
towards could possibly play the puck.
This is purely a judgment call, unless the puck touches a player
of either team once it has crossed the centre red line, in which case
the potential Icing would be waved-off immediately and play would be
allowed to continue even if the puck continues past the goal line.
the eyes of the Linesman, he must determine if a player of the defending
team could have played the puck. If
the puck was not shot too hard and it is traveling along the ice within
an easy reach of a defending player, the icing may be waved off,
especially if this defending player does not even make an attempt to
touch or stop the puck. Some
players like to watch the puck go past them in the hopes that a linesman
will still call the icing even though he could have touched the puck.
Why? Because this player may want a whistle or he may be tired
and wants to get off the ice and the Icing call will give him the
opportunity to change. There are plenty of good reasons to let the puck
go sailing on down the ice.
Linesmen, for the most part, will still call the Icing as long as he
feels that the puck was out of reach of any defending player, or the
puck was shot too hard for a defending player to get to before it
crossed over the goal line. If,
in the opinion of the linesman, a defending player made a reasonable
attempt to try and stop or touch the puck that was shot down the ice,
the Icing may still be called.
instance, if the puck is shot hard and along the ice, the defending
player must still try to stop or touch the puck if it is within reach of
him. If he makes no attempt
at all to touch the puck, the Linesman will probably wave-off the icing.
This penalizes the defending player and his team due either to
his laziness or desire to achieve a whistle.
Linesmen have a pretty good idea if a defending player made a
reasonable attempt to at least touch the puck before it crosses over the
goal line. If in the
opinion of the Linesmen, the members of the defending team made no
attempt to touch the puck before it crossed over the goal line, the
potential Icing may be waved-off and play will continue. This really
penalizes the defending team since the player who allowed the puck to
pass him is usually the last one back and now has to scramble to beat
the attacking team to the puck. When the linesman waves off the icing
you tend to see a sudden burst of panic-induced energy from the
Helping A Linesman’s Judgment!
are trained to race the puck and defending players down the ice.
If in the opinion of the Linesman that is racing the player down
the ice, the defending player could have and should have caught up to
the puck before it crosses over the goal line then the icing will be
linesman judge how fast the puck is traveling.
If a linesman starts at the same starting point as the defending
player closest to the puck and beats this player to the puck (beats the
puck to the goal line) then the icing will usually be waved off.
forget, Linemen also consider the age and skating ability of the players
that the linesman is racing. If
a 16 year old linesman is officiating a Novice game then obviously the
lineman will beat the player and this is also taken into consideration.
However, the next time you see a linesman
racing down the ice following the puck on a potential icing, take
a look at how fast he is skating relative to the defending players. That
will tell you if the defending player is making a real effort to play
Onus is Always on the Shooter In An Icing
all is said and done, the onus is still on the shooter in determining
the icing call. If a defending player makes an honest attempt to play
the puck, then the icing will be called. For example, if the puck is
shot in the air within several inches of a defending player’s body, it
will still be called icing even though the puck was close to the player.
If the puck is on the ice, this call may very well be different. Linesmen
don’t expect a Bantam player to be able to bat a puck that is
traveling at 80km/hour out of the air! However, they do expect a Bantam
player to be able to put his stick out in front of a puck sliding along