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The game of hockey is not only a great sport to play, but it is also a great sport to spectate! There are many intricacies in hockey that set it apart from other sports. Hockey fans are extremely passionate and loyal to the game. An entire culture has been developed around the gae, so if you are new to the sport, it can feel overwhelming at times.
Ice hockey is played on a rink that is 200 feet by 85 feet. This is the standard size that is used for the NHL, the AHL, college and junior hockey.
An ice hockey game consists of three periods of equal length. Each period is 20 minutes for most levels, but can be shorter for youth games. IF a team is tired at the end of their 60 minutes of play, there is a 5-minute sudden death overtime period. These are extremely exciting to watch, as the game can be over at any time.
There are six skaters that are on the ice during game play. The positions are goaltender, forwards and defensemen. There are usually two linesmen on the ice during the game, who call off-side and icing. There are also two referees in every NHL game. They wear bright orange armbands so you can distinguish who they are.
Compared to other sports, physical size does not come into play as much. Each player has the chance to be a part of the action, and to become a skilled and successful hockey player. The skills used to play hockey can be learned at any age, and can be increasingly improved with practice and experience.
Skating is a skill that is unique to hockey. This is the basis for all movement on the ice and must be mastered to play effectively. Without decent skating ability, players are much less likely to be able to perform well.
Stickhandling is a skill that requires extensive practice, but will bring you great benefits and performance once mastered. This is a skill that requires consistent practice to improve your skills.
Passing is an integral part of hockey and helps make the game exciting. Passing gets everyone on the team involved in the action and makes scoring a team effort.
Shooting is the final component of an offensive team play, and hopefully results in a goal. Often, players, especially new ones, want to spend most of their time shooting, because scoring is the most fun part of the game. Experienced players know, however, that by focusing on the other components of hockey skills, they will put themselves in a better position to score.
Hockey gear is fairly extensive and can also get fairly expensive. The game of hockey can be a full contact sport at times, thus protection is imperative to remaining healthy to play.
Hockey skates should fit your child immediately for use. There should be no more than ½” allowed for growth to optimize safety. The laces should be tired tightly to offer adequate protection in the ankle, toe and instep areas. More than any other piece of hockey equipment, skates are extremely important to ensure safety.
Hockey helmets and facemasks must be approved by the HECC- Hockey Equipment Certification Council. At the time of purchase, your helmet must fit properly and the chin strap should always be fastened during game play.
Hockey sticks are mainly up to personal preference. A stick should generally extend from the ice to the player’s chin while they’re in skates. Most players opt for composite sticks, and they can be fairly expensive. One way to protect your hockey stick is to tape it with a grip tape. A great brand of hockey grip tape to use is VukGripz.
Pads include shin, shoulder and elbow and should all fit properly and be in good condition to protect your body. A mouthpiece, and cup should be worn to protect yourself. Specialty equipment is also required for goaltenders, and is more extensive and specialized.