Know the Rules and Prevent Dumb Penalties
This is not a list of complete rules, but rather a list of penalties regularly called in games, and how to avoid them. To be a good hockey player, you must be aware of these types of penalties and try to avoid them (or make them be called if it's to your team's advantage) when possible.
- Icing - Icing is an aspect of the game that can be both advantageous and disadvantageous to your team. Icing is when a team member dumps the puck in to the opposing zone from the defensive side of the blue line (your half of the ice). If your line is tired, and has been on the ice for too long in your zone and can't make it back to the bench to get a fresh line out -- it's probably okay to dump the puck into the other end and risk an icing call. If it does qualify as icing (one of the other players touching the puck before it crosses the opposing goal line will prevent icing), there will be a stoppage of play and your team will get a chance to change their lines. On the other hand, if your team is rushing in to the opposing zone and you're plan on dumping the puck in their zone, make sure you cross the blue line first, or the refs will call "icing" and you'll be forced to face off back in your own zone. Not a good idea when you're on a rush! Also, goalies, help your teammates by letting them know the other team has iced the puck -- hold your glove hand up in the air if one of the refs is calling icing.
- Offsides - This is a fairly common call in hockey, and all skill levels are guilty of it. It's never to your team's advantage to be called offside! Basically, this happens when a player on your team crosses the opposing blue line before the puck. The puck must cross the blue line before any player on your team, this prevents "cherry picking", where a player could park next to the goalie and just wait for a teammate to pass the puck. When your team is on an offensive rush, always be aware of who has the puck, and where everyone is going. If it looks like you're going to cross the blue line before a teammate with the puck, skate along the blue line (rather than stopping and losing momentum!) until your teammate gets the puck across.
- Too many men on the ice - Teams at all skill levels are affected by this call, and it's never a good one to have called on your team. Basically, this happens when your team doesn't change lines correctly and has 7 players (including the goalie) on the ice. This will result in a two minute penalty, giving the other team a power play -- that's a pretty hefty price to pay just for not paying attention to line changes!
- Delay of game - Goalies, watch yourself on this penalty! Many things can cause this penalty, and it will result in a two-minute penalty to a player on the ice. Goalies are especially vunerable to this penalty because the ref may want you to play the puck, rather than hold on to it, if there are no opposing players near you. Most likely, the ref will warn you the first time, so you can probably get away with it at least once. Also, be aware of your net and don't knock it off on purpose (unless you know the ref isn't looking).
- Tripping - Tripping can be caused by anyone, accidentally or on purpose, and it's up to the ref to make the call -- the ref will call usually only call it a penalty if it's on purpose, but that's not always the case. You should never trip someone intentionally, but sometimes, in the heat of the game, you may find that you feel the "need" to trip. Just be aware that if the referee sees you, you'll be going to the box for at least two minutes!
- Instigating - "Instigating" isn't a penalty in the rulebook, but it is the cause of many other penalties such as roughing, fighting, checking from behind, and tripping, among many others. Sometimes a ref will not call the instigator in a penalty, but will call the person who retaliates, which can be pretty frustrating. Most of the time they will call a penalty on both. Just remember to keep your cool in a game and don't instigate or retaliate.
- Two-line pass - This is also a fairly common call, although not as common in the higher levels (NHL) of hockey as in the lower levels. I believe it is something that is avoided by skillful and smart players. A two-line pass occurs when one player passes to a teammate and the pass crosses two of the three center lines on the ice. This play will result in a face-off near the spot on the ice where the player passed the puck. The only way to avoid this is to be very aware of your and your teammates' positions on the ice. Keep your head up!