Spearing is considered one of the most serious infractions that a player can commit. There is very little tolerance for this type of activity, and even team mates and fans lose a lot of respect for players who spear others.

To get an idea of how spearing another player with the blade of the stick can cause pain, go through the following demonstration.

Make a fist and press hard against your forearm.  It doesn’t hurt much if at all.  Now take the tip of your pointer finger and push hard in the same spot.  You will notice that it hurts more than the fist does because you are in essence splitting the muscle apart.

The same thing occurs when you use a stick.  If you hit someone with the shaft or flat side of the blade of a hockey stick on the forearm it may hurt a bit, but the force is spread out across the surface space of the stick that is contacting the forearm.  Now do the same thing, but use the tip of your blade instead of the shaft of the stick.  Just as in the finger example, the tip of the blade of the stick can penetrate deeper into a players body and cause muscles to split apart thus increasing the chance of injury and pain.          

In Canada, if a referee calls a spearing penalty, he is obligated to give either a double minor or a five-minute match penalty.


An example of a double minor Spearing penalty is when a player is skating up the ice with the puck and an opponent is chasing him. Instead of catching up to the puck carrier the opponent decides to use his stick to spear the puck carrier, with moderate force, in the back of the calf muscle. This is considered a vulnerable spot because of the lack of padding in this area.  This spear causes the player to fall to the ice, creating what is commonly referred to as a ‘Charlie Horse’, or muscle cramp in the back of the leg.  This type of spear would most likely result in a double minor penalty because there was very little force behind the Spear and because the player was able to skate away after the play was completed.

Another example is when a player jabs an opponent in the stomach with the tip of his blade.  As long as the player doesn’t use a “Pitch Fork” motion, making it look as if the player is putting a  pitch fork into a bail of hay, there is more likely going to be a double minor penalty assessed. The stomach is another vulnerable area with many vital organs located behind the stomach muscles, so if the force is greater than moderate or the player is injured by the spear, then you will most likely see the penalty upgraded to a Match.  


Match penalties are fairly easy to call because they usually result in painful injury and pretty well anyone who witnessed the infraction could attest to the fact that the guilty player used excessive force in applying the spear. The most common spot for a Match penalty Spear is to the groin area.  Spears to the neck area are also considered serious infractions that can result in a serious injury or laceration because of the minimal amount of protection in this area and thus these infractions tend to be assessed with Match penalties over the Double Minor option.

You must remember that for a Match penalty to be assessed there has to be a severe amount of force used on an opponent. 


When it comes to spearing, the call can go either way, depending on how the referee interprets the action and where the spear was applied. Spearing a player from behind by lifting the stick up between a player’s legs is frowned upon by referees for obvious reasons. This type of infraction will always result in at least a double minor, if not a match because of the probability of serious injury. In most cases, however, fans never see the spear. This is something that often takes place in a crowd, or behind the play. A referee must always watch when two players are leaving each other after a particularly rough, physical exchange. Quite often one of the players will try to get in the final jab before they part company. If a referee sees this, he will likely call a double minor or risk retaliation and possibly have players attempting spearing for the rest of the game.