Icing in hockey is called if a team with an even or superior number of players dumps, hits, or deflects the puck from their own half of the ice past the opposing team’s goal line.
This rule was put into place so that teams are not able to kill time or avoid offensive pressure by simply shooting the puck down the rink.
When icing is called the faceoff will take place within the defensive zone of the team that iced the puck. This way the icing does not benefit the team that committed it, instead the faceoff will take place near their own net.
Additionally, when a team ices the puck they are not able to make a line change. This means the players on the ice when the icing occurs must stay on for the ensuing faceoff.
What Is NOT Icing In Hockey
Not every puck that travels from behind center ice to past the opponent’s goal line is going to be called for icing. Below we will break down all of the exceptions to the icing rule in hockey.
When playing on the penalty kill it is entirely legal for the team with fewer players to ice the puck.
This is why you will often see teams on the penalty kill dumping the puck out of the zone past their opponent’s red line without a whistle being blown.
Your Team Gets There First
If a team ices the puck from their end to their opponents it will not be called if one of their teammates is first to touch the puck. When icing occurs one of the opposing players much touch the puck or must be clearly winning the race for the puck in order for the whistle to be blown.
If icing is about to be called but a player on the icing team gets to it first, the play will go on.
Caused From A Faceoff
An icing call cannot be generated from a player directly hitting the puck down the rink from a faceoff. If a puck from a faceoff shoots down the rink past the opponent’s goal line play will continue on.
An Opposing Skater Failed To Play The Puck
If any player on the opposing team aside from the goalie is able to play the puck an icing should not be called. This is based on the referee or linesman discretion.
If a player intentional avoids the puck to let it go over the goal line play should continue.
Puck Touches An Opposing Player
Another reason that icing will be called off is if the puck makes contact with a player on the opposing team. When the puck hits a player or goalie whether it’s their body, stick, or skates there will be no call made for the puck being iced.
The Puck Goes In The Net
The final exception to this call is the puck crossing the goal line and going into the net. The goal line refers to the red line that sits deep in a team’s defensive zone. In most cases, the puck crossing this line from the other half of the rink is going to result in a call.
But if the puck goes straight into the net on a play such as an empty netter, there will be no call for icing and the goal will stand.
What’s The Purpose Of This Rule?
The purpose of this rule is to ensure that teams are not able to dump the puck down the ice when looking to kill time or avoid pressure from the opposing team.
There are several situations in a hockey game in which shooting the puck from your end to the other can be beneficial to your team. The trouble is dumping the puck the length of the ice can make the game incredibly boring.
Say for example a team is up late in a game, each time they gain possession of the puck they could simply shoot it all the way into their opponent’s zone in order to kill off a few seconds.
This would result in the exciting final minutes of a game looking more like consistent dumping and chasing of the puck from the defending team.
Additionally shooting the puck the length of the ice also gives the defense an unfair advantage when it comes to clearing the puck out.
If the NHL were to allow this there would be a noticeable decrease in goals across the league as defense would be more effectively able to clear the puck out.