Hockey 101: Penalties and punishments


Duration of Penalties


Minor/Bench-minor penalty

Two minutes in the box is required for minor penalties. If the opposition scores a goal on the ensuing power play, the first minor penalty is considered over and the player can return to the ice.

Major penalty

Major penalties carry five minutes in the box and an automatic game-misconduct penalty, ejecting the penalized player from the game. A teammate must serve the five minute penalty in full, regardless of how many goals the opposition scores.

Misconduct penalty

A misconduct penalty earns the offending player ten minutes in the box, but immediate substitution by another player is allowed. The penalized skater must serve his misconduct in full and cannot leave the box until the first whistle after ten minutes of playing time has elapsed.

If a goaltender is assessed a misconduct penalty, it must be served by a skater on the ice at the time of the whistle, who is designated by the coach through the captain.

Game Misconduct

A game-misconduct penalty results in an immediate ejection of the penalized player or team official, but immediate substitution on ice is allowed.

Match penalty

A match penalty results in the immediate ejection of the player or team official from the game and a five-minute penalty served by a teammate designated by the coach through the captain. No substitution for the penalized skater is allowed until the five minutes has been served.

A match penalty carries with it an automatic (and minimum) one-game suspension.

Delayed Penalty Call

A penalty, known as a delayed penalty, can be called in hockey where play is not immediately stopped with a whistle. The referee calling the delayed penalty will raise their arm to indicate a penalty has been called, and will blow the whistle once the offending team gains possession of the puck. In some cases of a delayed penalty, the team who has not committed the penalty will quickly pull their goalie in favor of a sixth skater to increase their chances of scoring a goal, knowing they’ll be saved by the whistle if the other team gets the puck.

Common penalties



A player who body checks, elbows, charges, or trips an opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to be thrown violently into the boards.
Time in the Box: At least 2 minutes. Any player who injures or recklessly endangers an opponent will be given either a major and game-misconduct penalty or a match penalty.


A player who delivers a check to the body of an opponent with both hands on the stick and no part of the stick on the ice.
Time in the box: At least 2 minutes


A player who punches an opponent during game action, after a whistle, or any time during the regular course of a game during a prolonged player confrontation.
Penalties for fighting: Instigator – Automatic match penalty, ejected. Minimum one game suspension. Retaliating player – at least a 2 minute minor


A player who uses his stick to impede the progress or interfere with an opponent, with or without the puck.
Time in the Box: At least 2 minutes

Illegal hit (women’s tournament)

In women’s hockey, a player is not allowed to deliver an open ice body check to an opponent. This does not however suggest the women’s game is free of physical play. Contact is permitted when the intent of the player is to gain control of the puck. A player is entitled to the ice around which they are standing, and players either pursuing a puck or in control of the puck are obligated to avoid contact when skating in that player’s area.
Time in the Box: At least 2 minutes


A player who obstructs or prevents an opponent without possession of the puck from skating, receiving a pass, or moving about the ice freely.

Skaters in front of the goal net are given leeway for penalties such as interference, cross-checking, hooking, holding, tripping, and slashing so long as the efforts do not cross the lines of a fair battle for territory.
Time in the Box: 2 minutes


A player who swings his stick, with one hand or two, at any part of an opponent’s body or equipment. Contact to the opponent is not necessary for the penalty to be assessed.
Time in the Box: At least 2 minutes

Too many men (players)

A team is allowed a maximum of one goaltender and five skaters or a total of six skaters on the ice. However, a bench-minor penalty for too many men can be called any time a team has one or more skaters on the ice than it is allowed.
Time in the Box: 2 minute bench minor served by skater on ice at the time of the call.


A player who knocks an opponent to the ice using his stick, foot, or leg.
Time in the Box: At least 2 minutes

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