What Is The Point Of The Trapezoid In Hockey?

The trapezoid is a line that’s painted behind the goal line on hockey rinks. The lines are shaded in red and white, and they form a trapezoid shape. It’s called the “trapezoid,” because it looks like a trapezium (a quadrilateral with no parallel sides).

The trapezoid is used to determine where a goaltender can play the puck without committing an offside offence. If he plays the puck outside of these lines, he will be called for an offside infraction.

The lines were introduced in 2005 as part of a series of rule changes that helped to make hockey more exciting for fans by making scoring more difficult. They were introduced in order to decrease goalies’ ability to play the puck outside of their crease and create more open ice for forwards to do their thing.

So, what is the point of the trapezoid in hockey? We will discuss all that in this article. 

Trapezoid in Hockey

What is Trapezoid in Hockey?

The trapezoid is an area behind the goal line, painted on the ice. It extends from the goal line to the end boards and has two parallel lines that are four feet apart. 

These two parallel lines are six feet from each goal post. Players cannot pass between these lines or play with a puck in this area. If they do, they will be penalized for the delay of the game. 

However, if you have possession of the puck in this section of your team’s zone and no opponent can get to it before you shoot off again then it’s legal to pass through there because there is no imminent threat of being scored on at that moment (because you have control of the puck).

Why was the trapezoid put in place?

The rule was introduced in 2005 after Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi won the Stanley Cup while allowing only two goals in the final series. The NHL and NHLPA agreed that goalies were getting too good at stopping shots, so they decided to add more goalie equipment to prevent them from making too many saves.

The trapezoid is one such piece of equipment: it makes it harder for a goaltender to make plays behind the net, so they have less time to adjust their positioning before taking shots on goal.

Is the trapezoid rule controversial?

Yes, it is. The trapezoid rule is one of the most controversial rules in hockey. One side sees it as a vital tool to help make the game safer, while others view it as a needless burden on goalies that makes the game less exciting.

It’s hard to argue with its safety benefits: without the trapezoid rule, there would be more collisions at the tops of creases and around netminders’ feet—and we all know how dangerous those can be! 

Below are some arguments that this rule raises in hockey; 

1. Makes Defensemen Vulnerable To Injuries

The fact that hockey goalies can have the puck behind the red line in goal means their defensemen have to take the heat. The opponent’s attacking players would try to gain possession and this makes the defensemen vulnerable to injuries. 

2. Some Goals Can Stickhandle The Puck

Some fans might want to see their opposition goaltender come and mishandle the puck, but the trapezoid rule makes sure that does not happen. A lot of goalkeepers are not even great at handling the puck. And this has also led to some arguments about whether the rule is fair. 

3. Playing In The Trapezoid Is Boring

This rule could encourage what most fans would not like to watch; players purposely playing the puck to the trapezoid so they can retrieve it again. In contrast, most fans want to watch excellent passing plays and goals. 

The trapezoid most times seems to many as another rule that makes the game more complex. On the other hand, a few people might disagree as goalies should also try out stickhandling. 

Does the trapezoid apply to all leagues?

The trapezoid is not a rule that applies to all leagues. The National Hockey League (NHL), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) use it, while others do not. In addition to what’s above, there are a few other leagues that have different rules:

  • American Hockey League (AHL)
  • ECHL
  • Canadian Hockey League (CHL)

Are there other goalkeeping rules in hockey?

There are other rules in hockey to keep the goalie from helping out.

The goalie can’t pass the puck back to a teammate in his zone, and he can’t freeze it there either. He must always play the puck behind his goal line—meaning if a player scores on him, he can’t pick up the puck and skate away from his net.

How Far Can A Hockey Goalie Go?

The trapezoid keeps goalies from making saves outside the crease. You may have heard that goalies are not allowed to play the puck in the corner. That is true, but there’s a reason why: it’s too easy for them to score!

The trapezoid keeps goalies from making saves outside the crease. The only place they are allowed to play pucks is within their crease, and they must stay there while doing so.

Read Also; What is a crease in hockey? 


Trapezoids encourage the goaltenders to stickhandle the puck and that is the only area of the ice they can do that. Although it could bring pressure on defensemen, both teams can still use it to their advantage. 

Also, some goalies are not excellent with their stickhandling skills making fans ask questions like “What is the point of the trapezoid in hockey”? But it is important to know that it is fair for both teams. 

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