Road To The Olympic Games

Olympics Winter

Ice Hockey Essentials - International vs. NHL

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) rules govern Olympic competition, so there will be a few minor rule changes from the NHL and International game.
Canadian players Jason Spezza, left, of the Ottawa Senators and Shane Doan, right, of the Phoenix Coyotes and Shea Weber, centre, of the Nashville Predators celebrate scoring against Russia during their final game in the IIHF International Ice Hockey World Championship in Bern, Switzerland. ((Alexander/AFP/Getty Images))

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) rules govern Olympic competition, so there will be a few minor rule changes from the NHL and International game.

Faceoffs

NHL: The visiting centre must place his stick down first. The referee drops the puck when both players are ready.

IIHF: The attacking centre (the centre in his opponents end) must place his stick down first. The referee blows his whistle and both teams have 15 seconds to get their respective centres to the faceoff circle. The ref drops the puck whether the players are ready or not.

Fighting

NHL: A long-time tradition in the NHL, fighting gets a player a major penalty (5 minutes).

IIHF: Fighting is not allowed in the game, and players will receive a match penalty and be ejected for the rest of the game. The team will receive a five-minute penalty.

Overtime period

NHL: In a playoff game, where a winner must be declared, both teams play until a goal is scored.

IIHF: In a playoff game that ends in a tie, the game will be prolonged by a ten-minute, sudden-death overtime period. If neither teams scores, a winner will be decided by shootout.

Goaltending

NHL: Goaltenders can play the puck behind the goal-line, but only in a trapezoid-shaped area defined by lines that begin six feet from either goal post and extend diagonally to points 28 feet apart at the endboards. A goalie will receive a two-minute penalty if the puck is played beyond the trapezoid-shaped area.

IIHF: Goaltenders can play the puck from anywhere behind the net, but will receive a minor penalty if they cover the puck behind the goal line.

Icing

NHL: If a player shoots the puck from his own half past the goal line, the defending team much touch the puck to get an icing call.

IIHF: If a player shoots the puck from his own half, an icing is called once the puck crosses the goal line.

Rink size

NHL: The average size of an NHL rink is 85 feet wide and 200 feet long. Goal lines are 11 feet from each end-boards-.

IIHF: International hockey is played on a bigger surface, with a rink size of 98 feet wide and 210 feet long. Goal lines are 13 feet from the end-boards.

Penalty shots

NHL: The fouled player must take the penalty shot. If he is unable due to injury, someone on the ice must take it.

IIHF: If a penalty shot is called, any player on the team may take it.

Style of play

The hard-hitting, close-checking style isn't as prevalent in the new NHL as in years past, but it still remains a part of the game. However, due to the bigger ice surface and the style of play, bodychecks are less frequent on the international ice surface. North American players will have to get used to a lot of stickwork. Fighting results in a game misconduct, so slashing, hooking and spearing are more frequent in international play.