Icing is largely a defensive strategy used to interrupt an opponent’s attack in hockey, but it can also
be an offensive strategy. And as fast-moving and physical as ice hockey is, with speed, strength, and agility
the hallmarks of top players, strategy still plays a big part in the game. Particularly icing. Let’s find
Icing occurs when the defense sends the puck over the center red line and past the opposing team’s goal
line, with no other player touching the puck. If the puck is first touched by a now-defensive player on the
other team, icing is called. The result is a face-off in the defensive end of the team who sent the puck to
begin with—that is, the team who caused the icing infraction.
Icing In Hockey: Defense . . . And Offense?
League rules differ on icing. In the National Hockey League (NHL), icing is a double-edged strategy because
first and foremost it will disrupt an offensive threat, pausing the flow and momentum of the attacking team or
creating a pause in the action (the face-off) so the defensive team can get organized; however, in the NHL if a
member of the team who sent the puck across the center red line reaches the puck first after it crosses the
opposing team’s goal line, it becomes a smart offensive play, giving that team a potential scoring
advantage. The puck is live and in play.
For this reason, you’ll see opposing NHL players race for the puck in a potential icing situation,
because which team is likely to touch the puck first determines whether icing is called. An NHL rule passed in
2013 resulted in “hybrid icing,” where the linesman must determine which player will touch the puck
first after it crosses the goal line. If the linesman judges that the defensive player will reach the puck
first, icing is called; if the attacking player is in the lead (judging by the position of his foremost skate at
the face-off dot), icing is not called and play continues. This rule was passed to prevent collisions (and
therefore injuries) as players raced for the puck in an icing situation, trying to touch it first. In a
potential icing scenario, if the goalie leaves his crease and touches the puck first, it’s not icing and
Sometimes, near the end of regulation play, a team pulls their goalie to have an attacking player advantage. If
they have no one guarding their goal, they risk goals being scored against them because a quick clearance of the
puck from the opposite end will not result in icing: when the other team clears the puck over the center red
line and it goes into the goal, even if no one touches it, that counts as a goal.
Shorthand Exception To The Icing Penalty
When a team is down a player or shorthanded due to a penalty, they
are free to clear the puck from their defensive zone and no icing infraction is called. However, the
full-strength team will still be called for icing when they violate the rules.