What Is Interference In Hockey? Learn The Rules And Penalties!

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If you’re a fan of hockey or just starting out, it’s important to understand the rules and penalties surrounding interference. This often misunderstood rule can lead to confusion among players and fans alike.

Interference occurs when a player uses their body, stick, or any other object to impede the progress of an opponent who does not have possession of the puck. It can also occur when a player physically blocks the path of another player without attempting to legally play the puck.

“The interference rule is in place to ensure fair play on the ice, promoting skill over physicality.”

While all minor infractions result in a two-minute penalty for the offending player, more severe incidents may lead to major penalties and even ejections from the game. Understanding the interference rule can greatly enhance your enjoyment of watching and playing hockey.

In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of interference in hockey, including various types of interference, how referees interpret and enforce the rule, and common instances where interference comes into play during gameplay. Whether you’re new to hockey or a seasoned fan looking to brush up on the rules, read on to learn everything there is to know about interference in hockey!

Understanding The Basics Of Interference

What Is Interference In Hockey?

In hockey, interference is a penalty called when a player deliberately blocks or obstructs an opposing player from performing their duties on the ice. Essentially, it happens when one player interferes with another player’s opportunity to move freely without the puck.

Interference can happen in several ways on the ice. One common type of interference occurs when players actively block opponents or use physical force to interfere with their movement and progress on the ice. Another example can be seen when a player stands between the opponent and the goal while not playing the puck directly.

“Interference penalties are called to ensure that all players get a fair chance to pursue goals and advantages throughout the game.” -The Hockey News

How Does Interference Affect The Game?

Interference ultimately affects the game by hampering the ability for both teams to play and compete fairly. When players engage in interference tactics, they risk breaking the rules of the game and receiving penalties that can lead to termination from games or suspension from future matchups. Neglecting interference rules also goes against the fundamental principles of sportsmanship and respect for other athletes.

Interference negatively impacts the flow and dynamic of the game. It slows down gameplay and leads to irregular stopping points throughout matches. This disruption often delays goals and keeps plays from happening naturally, which cheapens the overall quality of the match for everyone involved- fans, coaches, and players alike. With fewer natural plays occurring during the game, there is less excitement generated on behalf of supporters watching from either home or stadium livestreamers worldwide.

“When you see illegal hits like this on teammates over and over again, it makes it hard to win” -Corey Perry, NHL player

Additionally, it’s not uncommon for interference tactics to cause physical harm or injury to opposing players. Hockey is a contact sport, but referees must ensure that hits and plays remain within safe limits for everyone on the rink. Interference penalties are one way to keep athletes safe during gameplay.

In closing, understanding what interference means in hockey can greatly enhance your enjoyment of watching games from an informed perspective. It also helps encourage fair play ethics among teams and keeps matches running smoothly.

When Does Interference Occur In A Hockey Game?

During Faceoffs

Faceoffs are a crucial part of any hockey game. During a faceoff, players from opposing teams line up against each other and try to win control of the puck as it’s dropped in-between them by the official. However, interference can occur during faceoffs when a player tries to gain an unfair advantage over their opponent. For example, if a player interferes with or impedes their opponent’s ability to gain possession of the puck during a faceoff, that player may be penalized for interference.

When A Player Is Not In Possession Of The Puck

Interference can also occur when a player is not in possession of the puck. This often happens when two players are racing towards the puck, but one player gets obstructed or impeded by another player, preventing them from getting to the puck. When this happens, the obstructing player may be called for interference even though they don’t have the puck themselves.

When A Player Is Impeding The Progress Of Another Player

Impeding the progress of another player is another way that interference may take place. This can happen when a player intentionally or unintentionally trips, hooks, holds, shoves, or obstructs another player from moving freely on the ice. Such actions impede the opposing player’s movement and impact their playability which can lead to serious injuries, so they’re heavily frowned upon and considered unsportsmanlike conduct in hockey.

When A Player Is Screened By Another Player

Finally, interference also occurs when a player screens another player. This means that a player is positioned directly in front of an opposing team’s goalie – blocking their line of sight just before the puck arrives. This makes it difficult for the goalie to see and defend against the incoming shot, resulting in an unfair advantage for the team with the screened player.

“Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it’s important that players understand what constitutes interference to keep everyone safe on the ice.” -Sidney Crosby

In conclusion, interference occurs when a player interferes with another player’s ability to play or obstructs them from making progress towards the puck. It can be as subtle as blocking the opponent’s path or more obvious, like shoving or tripping and cause damage on the rink. Thus, every hockey player should be well aware of what counts as interference, so they don’t accidentally commit this infraction and get penalized during gameplay.

Penalties For Interference: What To Expect

Hockey is a game that requires physical contact between players. However, there are certain instances where this contact becomes too much and the fairness of the game is compromised. Interference is one such instance where a player hinders another from playing their game by illegally blocking or hitting them. This leads to penalties in the game, and understanding these penalties can help you be a better hockey player.

Minor Penalties

Minor interference penalties may include actions such as picking or holding on an opponent’s clothes or sticking out your body or any object to stop an opposition player ahead of the play. The referee will award a two-minute penalty for minor interference. During this time, the offending team must reduce its players’ number on the ice by one, leading to a power play for the opposing team. The team in question usually has to endure this penalty without causing further misconduct.

A typical action that might result in minor interference in hockey is when a defenseman intentionally prevents a forward player from reaching the puck during a breakaway. It could also occur when trying to defend against an offensive player; a defender might initiate illegal contact to prevent the offensive player from receiving a pass.

Major Penalties

If a player interferes with an opponent so drastically that it leads them to crash head-first into the boards or hits an unscreened player who does not see them coming, they face major interference penalties. If the referee identifies such behavior, the player will receive a five-minute penalty and exclusion from the remainder of the game. During the five minutes, the accusing club stays short-handed. A considerable spot handling given the duration of time allows the attacking team ample chance to score several targets during power-play.

When a player engages in such activities intentionally, he/she is not only hurting the victim’s side but also his own team by reducing their member on the ice and increasing scoring chances of the opposition.

Game Misconduct Penalties

A game misconduct penalty can result from both a major or minor interference offense if it involves deliberate intent to harm another player in addition to those penalties previously mentioned. A player may receive a Game misconduct (GM) and be ejected from the match if they interfere undesirably with an opponent from behind and cause them to strike head-on into the boards or touch other dangerous areas that could result in lasting injuries.

This way, whether its GM or 5-minute Major, penalization transpires when a player violates the guidelines outlined in the hockey rulebook designed to deter illegal actions that might help unfairly changed dramatically. Rule violation results in additional opportunity for the opposing teams either by playing one more man, thus having that extra attacker who can score relatively easily without any obstacles or hindrances created by the late defensive players.

“Interference will often come down to being smart about how you go about retrieving pucks or defending against quick-skating forwards.” -Randy Carlyle

Understanding the different types of penalties resulting from interference offenses helps better prepare hockey clubs’ mentality to avoid engaging in, as well as develop strategies to counteract potential attacks during short-handed power plays. Ensuring fair play is critical, especially considering players’ safety concerns and prospects of winning or losing games fairly through measuring skills and tactics rather than cheating their way to victory.

How To Avoid Interference Calls As A Player

Keep Your Hands And Stick To Yourself

One of the most common interference calls in hockey is when a player uses their stick or hands to impede the progress of an opponent. This can be as simple as reaching out and grabbing onto the other player or using your stick to hook them around their waist.

To avoid this call, keep your hands and stick to yourself. Focus on using your body to establish position rather than obstructing the other player’s movement. If you do need to use your stick, make sure it is within the rules of the game and not causing any interference.

Stay Out Of The Crease

The crease is a crucial area on the ice where goalies need to have clear sightlines to make saves. If a player enters the crease without possession of the puck, it can result in an interference call.

To avoid this call, stay out of the crease unless you are attempting to score or retrieve the puck. Make sure to establish position outside of the crease before making any moves towards the net.

Be Aware Of Other Players On The Ice

Interference can also occur when a player makes contact with another player who does not have possession of the puck. This can happen accidentally, such as skating into someone while trying to avoid a check, or intentionally by throwing a hit when the other player isn’t expecting it.

To avoid this call, always be aware of the positioning of other players on the ice. Keep your head up and scan your surroundings to anticipate any potential collisions. Make sure to only engage in physical play when it is legal and within the rules of the game.

“When you’re playing against a stacked deck, compete even harder. Show the world how much you’ll fight for the winners circle” -Pat Riley

By following these tips and being aware of your movements on the ice, you can reduce your chances of getting called for interference. Remember that keeping the game fair and within the rules benefits everyone involved, including yourself!

Interference Vs. Body Checking: What’s The Difference?


Interference in hockey is when a player obstructs, impedes, or interferes with the progress of an opponent who does not have possession of the puck.

A player can impede the progress of another by standing in their way, using their body to block them, or even pushing them out of the way. When such actions are taken and interfere with the flow of play or take away scoring opportunities for opposing teams, this leads to an interference call from the officials.

“It’s like giving somebody a shove so they can’t get where they want to go, especially if someone doesn’t have the puck,” says former NHL referee Dave Jackson.

A minor penalty is called for interfering with the progression of the game, while a major offense involves injuring players of the opposing team, which deserves strict action and may even lead to suspension from games.

Body Checking

Body checking is the legal use of physical contact between two players against each other to dislodge the puck from an opponent possessing it, separate him/her from the puck, or gain control of it without causing injury or violating any rule.

The point of bodychecking is to use your size and strength to remove opponents from the puck, win a loose puck battle along the boards, protect the goalie from onrushing attackers, keep the opposition off-balance and make them less effective later in the game.

“A good check should be hard, but fair. It should also jolt the puck off the stick. If you hit a guy with his head down, all bets are off. But no one is supposed to get crunched from behind,” explains veteran sportswriter Allen Abel.

Body checks are legal when executed properly and within the specific rules governing body checking. If a player exceeds those limitations, they may receive penalties for roughing or even worse illegal hits.

Both interference and body checking are integral parts of ice hockey, but it is important to understand that there’s a clear difference between these terms. Interference can be an offense while bodychecking is a strategy used by players to gain possession of the puck without injuring their opponents. The NHL has made every effort to regulate the use of physical contact on the rink to avoid excessive violence against other players.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is interference in hockey?

Interference in hockey is when a player obstructs or impedes the movement of an opponent who does not have the puck, or is not within a reasonable distance of it. This can include using the body or stick to slow down or prevent an opponent from reaching the puck or a certain area of the ice.

What are the consequences of committing interference in hockey?

The consequences of committing interference in hockey can result in a minor or major penalty, depending on the severity and intent of the interference. This can lead to the offending team playing shorthanded for a period of time, potentially giving the opposing team an advantage to score a goal.

When is interference called in hockey?

Interference is called in hockey when a player illegally obstructs or impedes the movement of an opponent who does not have the puck or is not within a reasonable distance of it. The referee has discretion in determining whether interference has occurred based on the severity and intent of the infraction.

How can players avoid committing interference in hockey?

Players can avoid committing interference in hockey by maintaining good positioning and body control, focusing on the puck carrier rather than the opponent, and anticipating the movement of the play. It is also important to avoid using the stick or body to impede an opponent’s progress.

What is the difference between interference and body checking in hockey?

Interference in hockey involves illegally impeding the movement of an opponent who does not have the puck, while body checking is a legal action used to separate the puck from an opponent. Body checking can only occur when the opponent has possession of the puck and is within a reasonable distance of it.

What are some examples of interference in hockey?

Examples of interference in hockey include impeding an opponent who is chasing down a loose puck, using the body or stick to slow down or prevent an opponent from reaching a certain area of the ice, or hindering the progress of an opponent who is not in possession of the puck.

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