Remember the movie Miracle? Yes. The same movie in which Kurt Russell, as Herb Brookes, leads the national ice hockey team of USA comprising college rookies to a win against the invincible Soviet Union. That too, at the peak of the Cold War. The purpose behind mentioning this was to remind you about one of the most interesting and exciting, albeit tough games―ice hockey. It is a combination of hockey and ice skating.
The Playing Area
The playing area, or rather the surface is practically a thin ice sheet, known as the rink. The rink has to be divided into several zones by a red line at the center and 2 blue lines. Now, as far as the measurements are concerned, the usual North American rink is 200 feet by 85 feet. These are larger when it comes to European ice hockey surfaces. The rink has to be enclosed by boards and plexiglas all around. The playing surface is divided into 3 zones. The defending zone is where the goal net is located for the team which has to defend that goal. Then, there are 2 blue lines in the middle of the rink, and in between them is what is called the neutral zone. Finally, the area where a team has to attack, the opponent's goal, is called the attacking zone.
The equipment mainly consists of the net, the stick, and the puck. In addition to that, there is equipment for safety like the helmet, elbow and shin guard, and so on.
The stick is held by a player for retrieving, carrying, passing, shooting, and controlling the puck. It is made of wood or composite material, and available in various styles and lengths. The best hockey sticks are made from graphite.
The puck is a small, circular, vulcanized rubber disc, measuring an inch in thickness, and 3 inches in diameter. It weighs between 5.5 and 6 ounces. A player is permitted to move the puck with his stick or feet, but not with his hands.
The net is nothing but a cage, 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It is strung with nylon mesh at the back. The object of the game, needless to say, is get the puck into the opponent's net and score as many goals as possible.
Teams and Players
There are 6 players of each team in the rink, including the goaltender. There are 3 forwards and 2 in defense. Only the goaltender cannot move from his place, otherwise, all the other 5 are permitted to move anywhere in the rink. In addition to that, the goaltender cannot cross the line, the center ice red line dividing the rink into half. The game can only begin once the referee drops the puck between the 2 forwards from the opposing teams. A face-off is also used to resume play if it is obstructed midway. A game has 3 periods of 20 minutes each. If, at the end of these 60 minutes, the teams are tied, there is a sudden death, that is overtime. The team scoring first here is declared the winner.
Those who do not obey the rules are penalized. One of the most common amongst them is that a player is sent off. It is a major penalty, and the player is sent off for 5 minutes. A player can be sent off in case he is involved in a fight with another player. Elbowing, kneeing, checking from behind, and roughing are other reasons for giving a player a penalty. The usage of the stick in a dangerous way, like hooking, tripping, slashing, spearing, etc., calls for penalization. In case of a minor penalization, a player is sent off the rink for a couple of minutes. Moreover, if a goal is scored, the penalty immediately comes to an end.
Finally, to monitor if the rules are followed properly, there are 2 referees, and to assist them, there are the time keeper, official scorer, 2 goal judges, and the video goal judge.