During the winter months, millions of fans worldwide enjoy the sport of ice hockey. It is a sport played on ice rinks with a netted goal, six feet wide. It is a very physical game, and players must develop strength and agility to play well. Ice hockey is one of the most popular Olympic sports. The game has been played for more than a century.
The goal of ice hockey is to propel the puck into the net of the opposing goalkeeper. The team that scores the most goals wins the game. If the score remains tied after three periods, there may be overtime, in which each team plays with fewer players. During overtime, each team alternates shooting at the opposing goaltender. When the shooters have scored, the goaltender switches to the other side of the net.
A team of six players is allowed on the ice at any given time. This includes three forwards, two defensemen, and one goaltender. A goaltender has special equipment that makes him or her more difficult to score against. They also have extra padding, including a helmet, face mask, arm guards, and shoulder pads.
In order to play ice hockey, the rink must be built to international standards, with a width of at least 100 feet and a height of at least 85 feet. The rink must also have a center circle and two end zone faceoff circles. Depending on the league, additional playing time may be awarded to the winning team. If the score is tied after three periods, sudden death overtime may be played. If the score is still tied after overtime, some leagues may go to a shootout.
The NHL is the North American ice hockey league. It was formed in 1892 with the help of Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston. He donated a three-foot-high silver cup to the top Canadian team. The Stanley Cup is awarded to the winner of the play-offs. The NHL is the oldest professional ice hockey league, and was the last major North American team sport league to institute a salary cap.
The NHL has 30 teams. There are two divisions, the National Division and the Pacific Division. The NHL is the most popular ice hockey league, with 82 games played during the regular season. The regular season determines the 16 teams that advance to the playoffs. Teams in the lower divisions are considered lesser leagues.
The game begins with a face-off in the centre circle of the rink. The team that wins the face-off chooses whether to shoot first or defend. The goaltender may be pulled for an extra forward, or he or she may have to retreat to defend the goal. If the forward succeeds in scoring a goal, the team that scored the goal is awarded the point and the other team has to score a goal to win the game.
A hockey game may be played for a total of three 20-minute periods. Each play begins with a face-off, which is when the puck is dropped on the ice. The first team to score a goal wins the game. If the score remains tied at the end of the third period, overtime may be played until one team scores. During overtime, the number of players on each team may be reduced, depending on the league. When a penalty is called, a player is sent to the penalty box, where he or she sits for two to four minutes before being allowed to return to the ice.