What Is Spearing In Hockey

Spearing in hockey is a penalty given when a player uses his stick to contact another player in a stabbing motion. Players may receive a double minor or major penalty for committing this penalty.

What Is A Spearing Penalty In The NHL?

Before we start breaking this rule down ourselves let’s head to the NHL rulebook. This helps us understand the rule in the league’s terms.

Spearing – Spearing shall mean stabbing an opponent with the point
of the stick blade, whether contact is made or not. – NHL Rulebook Rule 62

As we already knew spearing is the action of stabbing an opponent with the point of the stick blade. The reason they specify the stabbing of this portion of the stick is because hitting players in other ways fits under different penalties.

Stabbing a player with the top half of the stick is referred to as butt ending, while hitting a player with your stick is considered high sticking or slashing.

The other interesting part of this rule is that a call can be made whether contact is made or not. It can be assumed that if a player is called for a spear that doesn’t make contact it is likely quite an aggressive attempt.

Spears themselves are rarely called in the NHL and calling a spear that doesn’t make contact is even less common. A situation in which a spear attempt that misses in between a player’s legs would be a situation in which a spear may be called even though no contact is made.


When it comes to penalties in the NHL spearing is one of the few you can not receive a two minute minor for. This is because spearing in hockey is considered a much more dangerous and unnecessary action compared to many other penalties.

Double Minor Penalty

A double-minor penalty for spearing is given out if a player attempts to spear another player yet fails to make contact. We covered this scenario earlier in the article and mentioned that this penalty for spearing is quite rare.

This is because most NHL players trying to spear an opponent don’t usually miss.

Major Penalty

A major penalty is awarded to any player that spears an opponent and makes contact. It does not matter the location or the power of the spearing. So long as the referee determines it was a spearing, and contact was made the player will receive at minimum a five-minute major.

Additionally whenever a major penalty is assessed for spearing the offending player will receive a game misconduct penalty. This means the player is automatically ejected from the game, he will also receive a fine for this penalty.

Match Penalty

A match penalty is assessed to player for spearing if the opponent who was speared is injured on the play. If a player is injured when speared the referees must call a match penalty on the offending player.

A match penalty for spearing is similar to a game misconduct penalty. In both cases, the players are immediately removed from the game. The difference between these penalties being that the match penalty results in a larger fine and the offending player is suspended indefinitely until the Commissioner rules on the issue.

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