What is icing in hockey

What is Icing in Hockey? (Explained With Examples)

Icing is one of many rules that make up this fast-paced and exciting sport. But what exactly is icing? It’s confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will never want to miss another goal—and indeed not a penalty kill!

What is Icing in Hockey?

Icing is an infraction that occurs when a player on the offensive team shoots the puck from behind the centre red line across the opposing team’s goal line, and the puck remains untouched without scoring a goal.

When this happens, the linesman will stop play and restart it with a faceoff on the offending team’s end of the ice.

What is Icing in hockey

This is important because it ensures that the game is fair and that there are no easy scoring opportunities. This also keeps the puck moving up and down the ice, which makes for a more exciting and fast-paced game.

Icing Rule and Exception

So you understand the basic icing rules in hockey, But what about those cases where the icing is waved off but the puck remains in the offensive zone? There are a few scenarios where this can happen.

Icing is waved off if:

  1. The icing rule and exception are both very important in the hockey game. Icing is waved off when the team that committed icing is shorthanded, which means that one of their players has been penalized for violating the rules of the hockey game.
  2. The linesman will wave off icing if he believes a player on the opposing team could have played the puck before it crossed the goal line. This rule is in place to prevent teams from using the icing call as an opportunity to score.
  3. If a player participating in a face-off shoots the puck directly into his own goal and it passes the goal line, the icing should be waved off. This rule was created to prevent teams from icing their own goalie intentionally to make sure they didn’t give up an easy goal.
  4. Another exception is if the goaltender leaves his crease in order to play the puck and subsequently returns—in this case, no call will be made against him or his team (this rule does not hold under USA Hockey rules)
  5. When a player shoots or passes the puck down their opponent’s end of the ice and the puck enters the goal net, no icing is called.

Video Explanation of Icing

History of Icing In Hockey

NHL introduced the icing rule in September 1937 to eliminate delay tactics used by some teams to protect winning margin.

Before the rule, if a team was leading by 2 goals in the last minute of play, it could send the puck down the ice and keep control of it to run out the clock.

This delay tactic was first observed on November 18, 1931, in a game between New York Americans and Boston Bruins. Were the Americans, protecting a 3–2 lead over the Bruins, iced the puck 50 times.

During this era, there were no rules for icing in hockey and players could legally take their time before playing the puck.

The rule was introduced after fans complained about boring games with too much time being spent on the ice and not enough action.

The icing rule has been amended three times since it was introduced in June 1951.

The first amendment came in June 1951, when the NHL stated that the icing infraction would be nullified if the goaltender touched the puck.

The second amendment came in 1990–91 when the league stated that icing would be nullified if the puck passed through or touched the goal crease when the goaltender had been removed for an extra attacker.

Finally, in 1999–2000, the NHL changed its icing rule for the third time. Now if an opposing goaltender moved to intercept a puck about to cross his goal line, there will be no icing.

Types of Icing in Hockey

There are three types of icing in hockey, and they include;

  • Touch Icing
  • No-Touch Icing
  • Hybrid Icing

1. Touch Icing

In hockey, touch icing is a rule that causes a stoppage of play when the puck crosses the goal line after being last touched by a player on the opposing team. This differs from automatic icing, where play stops when the puck crosses the goal line regardless of who touched it first.

The icing rule is called touch icing because it only applies to players other than the goaltender. In other words, if you are icing the puck and you don’t get a player from the opposing team to touch it before your own goaltender, then you will be awarded an icing call against you.

The icing rule can lead to high-speed races for the puck as both teams attempt to gain possession before their opponents do.

2. No-Touch or Automatic Icing

No-touch icing also known as automatic icing introduced in 1937 is a rule that stops play for icing when the puck crosses the goal line.

It is designed to prevent players from being injured by having to chase down the puck and throw it out of their own zone, as well as to cut down on time spent during games by eliminating unnecessary stoppages.

In no-touch or automatic icing, play is stopped for icing when the puck crosses the goal line; however, if an opposing player touches the puck first before crossing over, then icing is waved off and play continues without stopping. If there is no contact with another player, then play stops and a faceoff takes place in the neutral zone at centre ice (unless there are less than two minutes left in regulation).

This rule change has helped to make hockey safer because players do not have to come into contact with opponents while chasing down pucks across centre ice or over their own blue lines. This also helps to reduce injuries since players are not required to use their bodies as shields against incoming players who may try to cause injury by hitting them with their bodies during a game

3. Hybrid Icing

The hybrid-icing system was introduced to the NHL in 2013, and it’s been a fan favourite ever since. The rule was implemented in 2013 to reduce the risk of injury from player collisions into endboards when racing for a loose puck.

The hybrid system allows the linesman to blow the play dead and call an automatic icing if he determines that the puck will cross the goal line and the defending player is not behind in the race to the end-zone faceoff dots in his defensive zone.

The faceoff would go to the far end of the ice as it did with icings called in the previous system the NHL used.

If the attacking player is leading the race, then nothing happens and play continues as normal.

Difference Between Icing and Offside

Knowing the difference between icing and offsides is important for anyone who wants to understand and follow up the Hockey game.

These two rules are completely different, and it’s important to know how they affect the game.

Offside: A team is offside when any member of the attacking team crosses over into their opponent’s end of the ice before a teammate passes them the puck, which would provide an advantage to that player.

Icing: Icing is when a member of the offensive team shoots the puck across their opponent’s goal line, and it remains untouched without scoring.

These two rules are essential for ensuring that the game is played fairly, and prevented players on either team from having an undue advantage.

Frequently Asked Question

Does Icing work during Power Play?

Yes! Icing can be called during power plays. Icing only holds for the team on Power Play, so if a team ices the puck and has less than five skaters on the ice, it won't hold.

Is icing called on face-offs?

No, icing is not called on face-offs. In fact, players are allowed to play the puck in any direction during face-off shoots, including directly toward the opposing team's goal.

Can there be a line change when an Icing is called?

There is no line change when icing is called. The only time a team is allowed to make a substitution during an icing is if there is an injured player on the ice, who another player from their bench must replace.

Is there any difference between Icing in Junior leagues and In Profession leagues?

Like the AHL (American Hockey League), amateur leagues practice automatic or no-touch icing. The linesmen will blow their whistles to stop play if they see an impending icing infraction. In the NHL, they practice hybrid icing. If there is an impending icing infraction, the players on both teams can race for the puck and try to gain possession of it before an official blows his whistle. The player who gets control first wins possession of the puck, and play continues as usual.


Icing, in most cases, is a good thing for all parties involved. It’s important that proper rules be put in place to ensure the safety of all players, as well as create a positive viewing experience for those who watch their favourite teams play.

The NHL has managed to strike a good balance between each of these issues, and we feel that there’s no reason to change things at this point.

Hockey just isn’t the same without it, and we should all be happy that the league recognizes how important icing really is. And if you happen to disagree with some of these points or think that I’m missing something, feel free to leave me a comment below – I’d love to hear about

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