How many players in an ice hockey team? Rules of Winter Olympics 2022 sport - from power play to game periods

The Winter Olympics’ most popular team sport is currently being played in Beijing with the likes of USA and Canada vying for the gold medal.

The Ice Hockey events at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are underway and this could be the first time many views in the UK are getting a proper look at the sport.

Although Team GB are not competing in the men’s or women’s events this year the matches are still proving popular viewing.

However, for first time viewers there may be some confusion around certain rules and regulations so we have outlined some of the terminology you may here while watching the sport and what it means.

Here are some of the key rules to understand before sitting down to watch the Ice Hockey at the Winter Olympics:

How many players make up an Ice Hockey team?

Defender Mikkel Aagaard #42 of Team Denmark celebrates his team goal against Team Czech Republic in the first period during the Men's Preliminary Round Group B match on Day 5 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Indoor Stadium on February 09, 2022 in Beijing, China

During normal play in an Ice Hockey match there are six players per side but numbers can be reduced as a result of penalties.

The six players are typically divided into three forwards and two defencemen who make up the five “skaters” as well as the goaltender.

The forward positions consist of a centre, a left wing and a right wing.

A goaltender can be replaced for another skater at any time, at the team’s own risk.

How long does an Ice Hockey match last?

An Ice Hockey match will last 90 minutes in total with 60 minutes of play.

The games are divided into three 20 minute periods with two 15 minute intermissions in between.

If the match is tied at the end of regular game and a winner must be decided, such as in a knockout or medal match, then a five minute period of sudden victory overtime is played.

In the gold medal game, the sudden victory period lasts 20 minutes and there is another 15-minute intermission prior.

If the match is still tied after that then it will be decided by a penalty shoot-out.

What is a ‘power-play’ in Ice Hockey?

A power-play is the result of one team having a numerical advantage in terms of players on the Ice one or more opposing players are serving a penalty.

Up to two players per side can find themselves in the penalty box at the same time giving their opponents a possible 5-on-3 power play.

There are three types of penalties that can result in a power play for the opponent, they are:

  1. Minor - two minutes
  2. Double-minor - four minutes
  3. Major - five minutes

What are penalties awarded for in Ice Hockey?

There are a number of reasons for which a penalty can be awarded in Ice Hockey.

The full list can be accessed HERE but below are a selection of some common infringements which result in penalties:

Minor penalties

  • Charging
  • Elbowing
  • High-sticking
  • Hooking
  • Slashing
  • Tripping
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct

Major penalties

  • Boarding
  • Charging
  • Checking from behind
  • Clipping
  • Elbowing
  • Fighting
  • Hooking
  • Illegal check to head
  • Interference
  • Slashing
  • Spearing

When is a penalty shot awarded in Ice Hockey?

A penalty shot is awarded when a scoring opportunity was lost as a result of an infraction.

The player who was deprived of the opportunity to score takes the shot or one can be chosen by the team in cases where the infraction is not against a specific player.

The penalty taker is allowed an unchallenged opportunity to score on the opposing goaltender.

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