The hash marks in hockey refer to the red parallel lines on the outside the faceoff circles. Hash marks are located on the faceoff circles in both the offensive and defensive zones.
Hash marks are not used in the faceoff areas in the neutral zone.
The purpose of hashmarks in hockey is to mark where players are allowed to lineup during a faceoff.
When a faceoff occurs there is going to be two centers in the middle of the circle taking the draw. There will also be four wingers (two on each team) waiting on the outside of the circle. One winger will be located near the half wall while the other will be between the two faceoff circles close to the front of the net.
These wingers will line up on either side of the circle, meaning the left-wing will be on the left side of the circle and the right-winger will be on the right.
The hash marks will show where exactly these players can line up. On each side of the circle these two lines will show where each winger can start the play. If either winger crosses their line before the faceoff the play will be blown dead.
Additionally, the wingers on the side of the faceoff circle are not allowed to move laterally towards the faceoff before the puck is dropped. Their location outside the circle and on the hashmarks is where these players must stay prior to the faceoff.
What Happens If A Player Crosses The Hashmarks Early?
Though the hash marks are there for a reason there are no real consequences if you do not follow them. If a referee is about to drop the puck and notices that a player is out of position he will simply skate over and talk to them.
The referee will tell the player to get back to his position on the hash mark and wait there until the puck is dropped. After these talks the players will almost always listen and the game will carry on.
If a player crosses the hash marks or enters the circle early yet the referee doesn’t notice the play will go on. Moving early on the faceoff presents an advantage but not enough so that the official will stop the play after the fact.
Why Are The Hashmarks Used In Hockey?
The hash marks in hockey are used simply because they give the wingers a set place to line up away from the draw. The essence of a draw in hockey is that it is one player against another.
If the wingers were able to inch closer to the centers prior to the puck being dropped they would find themselves part of the faceoff.
Additionally, one strategy to win a face-off is to tie up your opponent. This results in the puck staying in the location it was dropped while the two centers are caught up with one another. When this happens it is usually the winger that swoops in and takes the puck.
If the wingers are not starting from the same position then tying up the opponent would be an unfair way to win a faceoff. Instead, all wingers start from the same position in the faceoff circle and race towards the puck if it is failed to be won cleanly by won of the centers.