A match penalty in hockey is a penalty called when a player deliberately attempts to injure an opponent. This penalty results in a removal of a player for the remainder of the game. The player is sent to the dressing room and a teammate will serve a five-minute penalty in his place.
When a player has been assessed a match penalty he will be suspended from league play until the commissioner reviews the infraction.
When a match penalty is called the referees must review their call via an on-ice video. After reviewing the video the referees will determine whether to reduce the penalty to a two-minute minor, five-minute major, confirm the call, or reverse the call altogether.
Many penalties in the NHL become match penalties if they result in the injury of an opposing player. Penalties such as butt ending, punching an unsuspecting player, headbutting, kicking, punching, and spearing are all penalties that will immediately result in a match penalty if the opposing player is injured.
In most cases, these penalties are going to earn you a five-minute major. But if an injury occurs the offending player will find themselves out of the game and suspended until the commissioner rules on the issue.
Whenever one of these penalties occurs in a game the official must make a report of it after the game. This report must be sent to the commissioner of the league to review.
When a player earns a match penalty they will be given ten penalty minutes in their personal statistics. Ten penalty minutes is applied regardless of what the minor or major penalty the player committed while earning his penalty.
A match penalty powerplay is very similar to a five-minute major penalty. As we stated earlier the offending player will be removed from the game and a player from his team must be selected to serve his time in the penalty box.
Unlike a minor penalty, this five-minute penalty does not end when a goal is scored. The team on the powerplay may score as many goals as they like during the five-minute duration of the penalty.
Match Penalty Example
The best way to understand what a match penalty is in hockey is to see one get called. In the video below you will TJ Oshie of the St Louis Blues take a dangerous hit to the head.
In the play, Mike Rupp hits Oshie directly in the head with his shoulder resulting in an injury to Oshie.
Since Oshie was injured by this illegal hit Rupp automatically earned himself a this penalty. As you will see in the video he is sent off the ice and the Blues start a five-minute powerplay.