An ice hockey rink is an
ice rink An ice rink (or ice skating rink) is a frozen body of water and/or an artificial sheet of ice created using hardened chemicals where people can ice skate or play winter sports. Ice rinks are also used for exhibitions, contests and ice shows. The ...
that is specifically designed for ice hockey, a competitive team sport. Alternatively it is used for other sports such as broomball,
ringette Ringette is a contact sport, non-contact winter team sport played on ice hockey rinks using Ice skates#Ice hockey skates, ice hockey skates, straight sticks with drag-tips, and a #Equipment, blue, rubber, pneumatic ring designed for use on ice ...
rinkball Rinkball is a winter team sport played on ice with ice skates and is most popular in Finland, where it is known as ''kaukalopallo''. This ball sport originated in Sweden in the 1960s and from there landed in Finland in the 1970s. The objectiv ...
, and
rink bandy Rink bandy is a variant of the larger sport of bandy. Unlike bandy which is played on a large bandy field, rink bandy is played on significantly smaller ice hockey sized ice rinks. While a bandy field is about the same size as a football pi ...
. It is a rectangle with rounded corners and surrounded by walls approximately high called the ''boards''.

Name origins

''Rink'', a Scots word meaning 'course', was used as the name of a place where another game,
curling Curling is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice toward a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles. It is related to bowls, boules, and shuffleboard. Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding h ...
, was played. Early in its history, ice hockey was played mostly on rinks constructed for curling. The name was retained after hockey-specific facilities were built.


There are two standard sizes for hockey rinks: one used primarily in North America, also known as NHL size, the other used in Europe and international competitions, also known as IIHF or Olympic size.


Hockey rinks in the rest of the world follow the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) specifications, which are with a corner radius of . The two goal lines are from the end boards, and the blue lines are from the end boards.

North American

Most North American rinks follow the
National Hockey League The National Hockey League (NHL; french: Ligue nationale de hockey—LNH, ) is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams—25 in the United States and 7 in Canada. It is considered to be the top ranked professiona ...
(NHL) specifications of 200 by 85 feet (60.96m ×25.9m) with a corner radius of . Each goal line is from the end boards. NHL blue lines are from the end boards and apart. The 13.6 ft difference in width from the international standard represents a significant difference in width-to-length ratio on the ice.


The rink specifications originate from the ice surface of the Victoria Skating Rink in
Montreal Montreal ( ; officially Montréal, ) is the List of the largest municipalities in Canada by population, second-most populous city in Canada and List of towns in Quebec, most populous city in the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian ...
, constructed in 1862, where the first indoor game was played in 1875. Its ice surface measured . The curved corners are said to originate from the design of the
Montreal Arena The Montreal Arena, also known as Westmount Arena, was an indoor arena located in Westmount, Quebec, Canada on the corner of St. Catherine Street and Wood Avenue. It was likely one of the first arenas designed expressly for hockey, opening in 1 ...
, constructed in 1898.



The ''centre line'' separates the ice in half crosswise. It is used to judge icing. It is a thick line, and in the NHL must "contain regular interval markings of a uniform distinctive design, which will readily distinguish it from the two blue lines." It may also be used to judge two-line pass violations in leagues that use such a rule. There are two thick ''blue lines'' that divide the rink into three parts, called
zones Zone or The Zone may refer to: Places Climate and altitude zones * Death zone (originally the lethal zone), altitudes above a certain point where the amount of oxygen is insufficient to sustain human life for an extended time span * Frigid zone ...
. These two lines are used to judge if a player is offside. If an attacking player crosses the line into the other team's zone before the puck does, he is said to be offside. Near each end of the rink, there is a thin red ''goal line'' spanning the width of the ice. It is used to judge
goal A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, plan and commit to achieve. People endeavour to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines. A goal is roughly similar to a purpose or ai ...
s and icing calls.

Faceoff spots and circles

There are 9 ''faceoff spots'' on a hockey rink. All
faceoff A face-off is the method used to begin and restart play after goals in some sports using sticks, primarily ice hockey, bandy, floorball, broomball, rinkball, and lacrosse. During a face-off, two teams line up in opposition to each other, and th ...
s take place at these spots. There are two spots in each team's defensive zone, two at each end of the neutral zone, and one in the centre of the rink. There are ''faceoff circles'' around the centre ice and end zone faceoff spots. There are hash marks painted on the ice near the end zone faceoff spots. The circles and hash marks show where players may legally position themselves during a faceoff or during in-game play.

Spot and circle dimensions

Both the centre faceoff spot and centre faceoff circle are blue. The circle is 30 feet (9m) in diameter, with an outline thick, and the faceoff spot is a solid blue circle in diameter. All of the other faceoff spots and circles are colored red. Each spot consists of a circle in diameter (as measured from the outermost edges) with an outline thick. Within the spot, two red vertical lines are drawn from the left and right inner edges, and the area between these lines is painted red while the rest of the circle is painted white.

Goal posts and nets

At each end of the ice, there is a goal consisting of a metal goal frame and cloth net in which each team must place the puck to score. According to NHL and IIHF rules, the entire puck must cross the entire goal line in order to be counted as a goal. Under NHL rules, the opening of the goal is wide by tall, and the footprint of the goal is deep.


The crease is a special area of the ice in front of each goal that is designed to allow the
goaltender In ice hockey, the goaltender (commonly referred to as the goalie) is the player responsible for preventing the hockey puck from entering their team's net, thus preventing the opposing team from scoring. The goaltender mostly plays in or near ...
to perform without interference. In North American professional hockey, the goal crease consists of straight lines extending perpendicularly from the goal line outside each goal post connected by an arc with a radius; two red hashmarks thick located from the goal line that extend into the crease from either side. This area is typically coloured blue for easier visibility.

Goaltender trapezoid (Martin Brodeur Rule)

During the 2004–05
American Hockey League The American Hockey League (AHL) is a professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League (NHL). Since the 2010–11 season, every team in the ...
(AHL) season, an experimental rule was implemented for the first seven weeks of the season, instituting a ''goaltender trap zone'', more commonly called ''the trapezoid'' in reference to its shape. Under the rule, it is prohibited for the goaltender to handle the puck anywhere behind the goal line that is not within the trapezoidal area. If they do so they are assessed a minor penalty for delay of game. The motivation for the introduction of the trapezoid was to promote game flow and prolonged offensive attacks by making it more difficult for the goaltender to possess and clear the puck. The rule was aimed at reducing the effectiveness of goaltenders with good puck-handling abilities, such as Martin Brodeur for whom the rule is "named". The area consists of a centred, symmetrical
trapezoid A quadrilateral with at least one pair of parallel sides is called a trapezoid () in American and Canadian English. In British and other forms of English, it is called a trapezium (). A trapezoid is necessarily a convex quadrilateral in Eucli ...
. The bases of the trapezoid are formed by the goal line and the end boards. The base on the goal line measures — widened from the original for the 2014-15 NHL season onwards — and the base along the end boards measures , with the depth behind the goal line-to-boards distance specified at . The seven-week experiment proved so successful that the AHL moved to enforce the rule for the rest of the season, and then was approved by the NHL when play resumed for the 2005–06 season following the previous lockout. The
ECHL The ECHL (formerly the East Coast Hockey League) is a mid-level professional ice hockey league based in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, with teams scattered across the United States and Canada. It is a tier below the American Hockey League (AHL). The ...
, the only other developmental league in the Professional Hockey Players Association along with the AHL, also approved the rule for 2005–06.

Referee's crease

The ''referee's crease'' is a semicircle in radius in front of the scorekeepers bench. Under
USA Hockey USA Hockey is the national ice hockey organization in the United States. It is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee as the governing body for organized ice hockey in the United ...
rule 601(d)(5), any player entering or remaining in the referee's crease while the referee is reporting to or consulting with any game official may be assessed a
misconduct penalty A penalty in ice hockey is a punishment for an infringement of the rules. Most penalties are enforced by sending the offending player to a penalty box for a set number of minutes. During the penalty the player may not participate in play. Penaltie ...
. The USA Hockey casebook specifically states that the imposition of such a penalty would be unusual, and the player would typically first be asked to leave the referee's crease before the imposition of the penalty. The NHL has a similar rule, also calling for a misconduct penalty. Traditionally, captains and alternate captains are the only players allowed to approach the referee's crease.


The blue lines divide the rink into three zones. The central zone is called the ''neutral zone'' or simply ''centre ice''. The generic term for the outer zones is ''end zones'', but they are more commonly referred to by terms relative to each team. The end zone in which a team is trying to score is called the ''attacking zone'' or ''offensive zone''; the end zone in which the team's own goal net is located is called the ''defending zone'' or ''defensive zone''. The blue line is considered part of whichever zone the puck is in. Therefore, if the puck is in the neutral zone, the blue line is part of the neutral zone. It must completely cross the blue line to be considered in the end zone. Once the puck is in the end zone, the blue line becomes part of that end zone. The puck must now completely cross the blue line in the other direction to be considered in the neutral zone again.


In a hockey rink, the boards are the low wall that form the boundaries of the rink. They are between high. The "side boards" are the boards along the two long sides of the rink. The half boards are the boards halfway between the goal line and blue line. The sections of the rink located behind each goal are called the "end boards". The boards that are curved (near the ends of the rink) are called the "corner boards".

See also

* Ice hockey arena *
Ice hockey rules Ice hockey rules define the parameters of the sport of ice hockey. The sport is governed by several organizations including the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the National Hockey League (NHL), Hockey Canada, USA Hockey and other ...
* National Hockey League rules * Neutral zone trap *
Ice rink An ice rink (or ice skating rink) is a frozen body of water and/or an artificial sheet of ice created using hardened chemicals where people can ice skate or play winter sports. Ice rinks are also used for exhibitions, contests and ice shows. The ...
* Figure skating rink * Speed skating rink


External links

{{commons category-inline, Ice hockey rinks
Backyard Ice Hockey Rinks

Hockey Rinks Database of 5,500 Rinks
in the U.S. and Canada
Hockey Arenas in Europe
Ice hockey rules Sports rules and regulations Ice rinks Sports venues by type