Amanda and I hope you are enjoying our Sports 101 series so far, next up is hockey! Depending on where you live, this may or may not be a big sport in your area but with the Stanley Cup (more on that later) going on, we thought we’d talk about it. Well, Amanda thought the Canadian (*cough*me*cough*), should talk about it.
We’re going to go ahead and assume that you know this game is played on ice and that the object of the game is to get the puck into the opposing team’s net or goal. Going off that, hockey teams have 6 players on the ice at all times, each with a specific position and job; center, left wing, right wing, 2 defense-men, and a goalie. They do exactly what you think.
A center is similar to a quarterback in football, he makes the plays happen and passes the puck. A right wing works the right side of the rink, the left wing on the left side, both able to shoot and battle for the puck from their respective sides. The defensemen are the backups to the those positions, freeing them up to make shots and often get very physical with the other team’s players. Lastly, a goalie does what you think – defends his goal from any pucks from the opposing team.
The game is played in three 20-minute periods. The rink is divided into zones by a red line at center ice, and two blue lines. The area between the 2 blue lines is called the “neutral zone”, the area behind the blue line by the opposing team’s net is called the “offensive/attacking zone”, the area behind the blue line at your goal is called the “defending zone”.
I’m sure you’re wondering when I’m going to get to the fighting, something hockey is infamous for. While body checking (using a shoulder, hip or torso to stop your opponent) is legal when the opposing player has the puck, targeting the head, or the back of a boxed in player is not. There are also two kinds of penalities, minor and major.
Minor penalties include; obstructing an opponent, dangerous use of the stick, dangerous physical fouls. These infractions result in player committing these penalties to be taken off the ice for 2 minutes, with no substitution made – meaning now his team is playing a man down.
The most common major penalty is fighting. While fighting is allowed, a referee will intervene once one the players involved hits the ice. Surprisingly, they don’t stop the fight even if a player’s helmet comes off before then. A major penalty can result in at least 1 if not both players sent off the ice into the Penalty Box for 5 minutes. If both are off the ice, substitutions can be made.
The 2012 Stanley Cup finals are underway, with the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils playing for the Championship title.
I hope this has helped your understanding of hockey just a little bit! Are you or a loved one a hockey fan?