Ice Hockey The Difference of IIHF and NHL Rules

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Ice Hockey

The Difference of IIHF and NHL Rules

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Ice hockey, or simply known as hockey, is a team sport played on ice. It is a physical and fast-paced sport. It is most popular and played by people in cities and areas that are cold enough for natural, reliable seasonal ice cover. However, with the introduction and development of artificial indoor ice rinks, it has become a all-year entertainment at amateur level and other professional-league team.

The National Hockey League is the highest level of four major professional hockey leagues in North America. It is based on Canada, which the sport is a national winter sport and gain so much popularity. However, the International Ice Hockey Federation is the highest international professional league of ice hockey. It has 66 member-countries all around the world, mostly European and former USSR countries.

Injuries are a common occurrence for ice hockey is a full-contact sport. The use of protective equipments is highly observed on all competitions. This usually includes a helmet, elbow pads, shoulder pads, protective gloves, mouth gurad, heavily padded shorts, athletic cup/jock, chest protector, neck guard and shin pads.

While the general characteristics of the sport are same wherever it is played, strict rules depend on the particular code of play being used. The two most important and most used codes are those of the North American National Hockey League (NHL) and of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Ice hockey is a sport played on a hockey rink. There are six players, including one goaltender per side during normal play. The game’s objective is to score goals by shooting hard vulcanized rubber disk, or simply known as the puck, into the goal net of the opponent, which is placed at the other side of the rink. The players control the puck using a long stick with blade that at one end is commonly curved.

There is a major difference on NHL and IIHF requirements on the maximum rink and zone dimensions. While IIHF rules that the maximum rink dimensions is a rink with a width of 30 meters or 98.5 feet and a length of 60 meters or 200 feet, NHL requires a width of 26 meters or 85 feet and with the same length. Zone dimensions on these two major leagues also differ: IIHF requires a neutral and an offensive zone of 17.3 meters or 56.8 feet; NHL rules requires a neutral zone of 15.24 meters or 55 feet and an offensive zone of 19.5 meters or 64 feet.

During play-offs IIHF rules states that attacking team must place down the stick first. Fifteen (15) seconds after stoppage, the puck goes down. But on the NHL rules, it is the visiting team that must place the stick down first. The fifteen-second time-drop does not apply. If a fight or a rumble emerges during a game between both players, IIHF rules states that it is a Match penalty or Major plus Game Misconduct while NHL states that is a major penalty. If the goalkeeper freeze or stop the puck, it is also a penalty for IIHF. The goalkeeper will incur a minor penalty for falling on puck beyond the goal line or harsh marks. Yet it is allowed on NHL rules as long as the goalkeeper is being checked. Another difference on goal keeper is that IIHF rules allows them to handle the puck anywhere behind the goal line but is not allowed on NHL rules. During 2005-2006 Season, the goalkeepers’ equipment is also different between IIHF and NHL. The former allows big equipment while the latter downsized it.

On IIHF rules, both teams are given a time-out during the same stoppage, but the other ream must notify the referee before opponent’s expires. NHL rules only permitted one team a time-out during a stoppage and one 30-second time-out allowed per game. There is also a big difference on icing call. IIHF codes states there is an icing call when the puck crosses the goal line. The team that ices the puck is permitted to change a player prior to ensuing face-off. However, touch-icing is called when a defensive player touches the puck. A team that ices the puck is not permitted to change the player prior to an ensuing face-off. On IIHF any player may take the penalty shot. The team has the option of taking shots or making opponent serve the Minor Penalty. On NHL, the player who fouled must take the shot. If in any case he cannot, another player on ice must take it. Also during Bench Penalty, IIHF rules allows any player to serve the penalty, yet NHL rules states that it can only be serve by another player on ice. There is also a Minor Penalty for playing without helmet on IIHF rules. Moreover, if it comes off, the player can put it back on or got to the bench. NHL rules however allows that player to continue playing even when his helmet comes off.

There is a new penalty in the NHL that applies to the goalies. The goalies are now not allowed to play the puck in the “corners” of the rink near their own net. This will result in a two-minute penalty against the team of the goalie. Additional NHL rule is that when the two line offside passes. Now players are able to pass to teammates who are more than the blue and centre ice red line away. NHL implements rules much more strictly resulting in more infractions being penalized which in turn provides more protection to the players and allows for more goals to be scored.

The most wide-spread system used in officiating is the 3-man system, which includes one referee and two linesmen. It is the National Hockey League, and a number of leagues have started to implement the 4-official system, where an additional referee is added to aid in the penalty calling which is difficult normally to asses by one single referee. The NHl and IIHf has improved the system and proven quite successful when it was adopted during the World Championships.

The 66 member countries of the IIHF, it is Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United States of America have finished on the most of the coveted top, second and third places at IIHF World Championships. These countries are considered the “strongest” teams during international competitions. Only six did not go to the one of these seven countries of the 63 medals awarded in men’s competition at the Olympic level from 1920 until the present. Only one of those six medals was above bronze. Those seven nations have also captured 162 of 177 medals awarded at 59 non-Olympic IIHF World Championships, and all medals since 1954. Likewise, all nine Olympic and 27 IIHF World Women Championships medals have gone to one of those seven countries.

According to the IIHF 2007 record book, it is Canada with the most number of professional players, 545,363 or 1.75% of the country’s population. Following are United States, Czech Republic, Russia and Sweden. However, it Slovenia with the lowest recorded professional player with only 980 players followed by Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

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Ice Hockey The Difference of IIHF and NHL Rules. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from

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