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Hockey School
the professorIce Lines

What colors are they?: The one that divides center ice is the red line. The two on either side of the red are the blue lines. The two on the back end of the rink are red but are known as the goal lines.

What do they mean?: The blue lines designate a player’s offensive or defensive zone. They are 60 feet from the respective goal. The red line splits the rink in two and is placed in the middle of the neutral zone.

What does offsides mean?: An offensive player cannot be completely across the blue line before the puck makes it there. If he is in the zone and the puck arrives after him, he is offsides and a whistle stops play. The punishment for offsides? A faceoff outside the attack zone, which is less likely to create a scoring chance. The rule is in place to contain defenseless scoring chances. If players could be in the attack zone without the puck, they would simply park in front of the net and wait for the puck to make it near them. A goalie’s nightmare, in essence.

What does icing mean?: A defensive player, behind the red line, cannot force the puck all the way past the opponent's goal line. If he does, it as seen as “giving up,” deliberately losing the puck just so the opponent can’t continue his attack. If this happens, icing is called and a whistle stops play. The punishment for icing? Well, since the guilty party’s intention was to eliminate a scoring chance for the opposition, that opposition is rewarded a faceoff in the attack zone, which means a quality opportunity for a goal.

What's a two-line pass?: Similar to offsides, two-line passes are whistled to reduce defenseless scoring chances. A pass across two lines, and three lines for that matter, means a player is feeding a teammate with a puck and a quality opportunity before the opponent has a chance to catch up. Breakout passes can only make it across one line. That means the opponent can turn around, shift into defensive mode and at least have a chance to defend a play.

The lingo: The ice lines are known, around the rinks, as stripes.

– Compiled by Tim Sullivan

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