What is a Face-Off in Hockey?

what is a face-off in hockey

Last updated on November 3rd, 2023 at 03:53 pm

There is always a face-off at the center ice for any high school, college, AHL, Canadian, international, and NHL game. Both teams (home and visiting) send one player to line up at the ice center, waiting for the official to drop the puck to start the action.


Two centers line up across each other at the hockey face-off dot for the puck to drop from the referee. The remaining players need to line up 15 feet away from the puck. It is worth noting that no player except for the two centers can line up inside this circle on the ice. The game begins or resumes once the puck drops, and there are no violations from either side.


When Do Face-Offs in Hockey Occur?

when do face-offs in hockey occur

Face-offs occur in hockey for a few reasons. First, the face-off occurs at the beginning of every period. The puck drops in the ice center between the two teams at the start of any period.


Second, a face-off occurs after a goal occurs by either team. After that goal happens, the ice hockey official grabs the puck and skates back to the rink’s center to drop it between the opposing players.


Third, anytime a puck goes out of play or an injury occurs that creates a delay of game, there will be a face-off. In this instance, the puck drop happens where the stoppage of action occurs.


Fourth, there will be a face-off anytime there is a penalty once the whistle blows. For example, if one team gets a tripping penalty, the referee will blow their whistle once the penalty team touches the puck again. From there, the face-off will occur near the face-off circles on the penalized team to start the action.


How Many Different Face-Off Spots are There on the Ice?

how many different face-off spots are there on the ice

There are nine zone face-off locations on the ring, one in the ice center. The center ice face-off starts a period and or after a goal. The remaining eight face-off locations occur due to where a penalty took place.


For example, there are four red face-off dots around the center ice face-off circle. This area is between two blue lines, which signals the neutral zone. Typically, you will see the referee choose to have the face-off in the neutral zone if there was an offsides penalty during the game’s action or if the puck went out of the rink in this area.


Meanwhile, the other four face-off circles are near the goaltender section. A face-off example in this area is if a goalie holds on to the puck from a shot. Holding onto the puck creates a stoppage in action, resulting in a face-off.


Why Does a Player get Kicked Out of the Face-Off Circle in Hockey?

why does a player get kicked out of the face-off circle in hockey

Getting kicked out of the face-off circle can either be your fault or a teammate’s fault. The first face-off violation means a new player enters the circle to take the face-off, but a second violation in a row results in a minor penalty. Here are examples of why you might get kicked out of a face-off in hockey.


First, the linesman will kick a player out of the face-off circle if their skates are not squared up. Skates that are not squared up mean that you can’t angle your skates to where you want to push the puck once it drops from the referee.


Second, you must wait for the defensive center to place their stick on the ice first, and then the offensive player can as they wait for the puck. If the offensive player puts their stick down before the defensive player, that will remove the face-off circle.


Third, if you move too early and don’t have your skates in the red L shape, you will be kicked out of the face-off. Another way a player can get kicked out of the face-off is if their teammate enters the circle too early.


Is there a Penalty for a Face-Off Violation?

According to the official hockey rules, a bench minor penalty occurs if a team creates back-to-back face-off violations. The minor penalty puts that player on the offending team in the penalty box for two minutes, which gives an advantage to the other team. Having one player go into the penalty box can provide the other team an advantage via a power-play situation.


Why Do Players Get in Trouble Before a Face-Off?

Possession of the puck is an essential metric for any team to have. Having more time with the puck means fewer chances for the other team to score, so teams always try to control the puck during a game. However, with that said, sometimes players create a violation due to their aggressive playstyle trying to get an edge to capture the puck.


Is there a Stat that Counts Face-Off Wins in Hockey?

is there a stat that counts face-off wins in hockey

Face-off Wins (FW) is a popular category for fantasy ice hockey owners and fans to know. To calculate the face-off win percentage, you take total face-off opportunities and divide that into the face-offs you won. For example, you were part of 85 face-offs in the year and won 48 of them. That means you won 56% of the face-off attempts.


According to Quanthockey.com, Yanic Perreault has the best face-off win percentage of 61.14% as of December 2021.


What Happens After the Puck Drop?

what happens after the puck drop

Once the referee drops the ice hockey puck on the rink, the rest of the players can crash the circle to get the puck. However, teams design plays to have some players crash the puck while others stay back to wait for a potential pass.


Conclusion: What is a Face-Off in Hockey?

In summary, an ice hockey face-off either starts the match or occurs immediately after the infraction during the game. The home and visiting team send one player to where the puck will drop during the face-off. Winning the face-off can be a great morale booster for your team as well, along with adding more time to your puck possession, so teams work on face-off plays during practice all season long.


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