In ice hockey, most fans might think that skates can only be used for ice skating, not knowing that other than skating, footwork with a puck can also be shown into play when players are on the ice. Many questions come into mind when we see players kicking the puck. Can a player kick the puck? What are the rules for kicking a puck? Can you pass the puck to yourself or your teammate? Can you score a goal by kicking the puck into the net? So, this article is going to tell you all the dos and don’ts of puck kicking in the NHL.
Usually, a hockey player is exceptionally talented in using his feet to handle a puck within a few seconds other than the skating ability. But this skill of theirs is pretty underrated. A hockey player can kick the puck to himself, his teammates, and anywhere on the ice. However, you cannot score a goal by kicking the puck into the net. A goal can only be scored when the puck deflects off your skate as long as you do not turn your feet in a kicking motion.
When Can you Kick the Puck in Hockey?
A hockey player can kick the puck with his skate under any circumstance except for one condition: to score a goal.
It can be seen quite often that hockey players kick the puck to their teammates’ sides or up to their stick. During the game, the stick tangling of players with their opponent’s stick happens often, and they become unable to use their stick. So this neutralized stick battle leads players to use their feet to kick the puck and send it towards their teammate to their team’s advantage or to up their stick. One can also block shots of opponents with their kicking motion. All these kicking motions are legal in hockey, but kicking a puck straight to the net with a distinct kicking motion is illegal.
But the question is can you score a goal on your skate?
It’s common to see the puck going off the skates into the nets, which happens even multiple times in a game. As it is allowed to deflect the puck via skate into the net, but to kick the puck into the net is not permitted. So, how can the referee confirm that the puck deflects off the skate vs kicks the puck?
To solve this, let’s get into the rule book of the NHL.
“No goal will be considered if a player propels the puck into the net using distinct kicking motion. No goal will be considered if a player kicks the puck deflecting to the net off the goaltender or any player or official.”
In this case, officials do a video review to determine whether it’s a goal or not.
Difference between Distinct Kicking Motion and Deflecting the Puck Using Skate
For this matter, the Referees look for the player’s skate blade leaving the ice. If the player deflects the coming puck directly into the net with his skate and is able to keep the skate blade on ice, then the referee will allow the goal. But if a skate blade comes up off the ice, the referee will not consider it a goal.
What’s The Reason for Not Kicking the Puck in the Net but Deflecting the Puck into Net with Skate?
The one and the only reason is safety. The NHL will do its best to prevent a player from kicking another player using a skate as it is perilous. Kicking off another player results in a severe penalty and one of the biggest bans in hockey that can cause a large suspension from international games and a fine if a player does this.
A goal cannot be scored by kicking the puck boils down to the goaltender and players’ safety. Because skate blades are very sharp and skating boots are quite hard. So the combination of them, when applied to kick, can severely injure other players or goalkeepers.
There is a high risk of injury for the goalie and other players if a player takes hard puck kicks in the crease. And it’s not that the player is trying to kick the goalie or other player but to score a goal. Furthermore, it is not the kick that is considered dangerous, but the main concern is that the goaltender can get severely cut by a sharp blade, as with Buffalo Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk.
Thus, to avoid this NHL has changed the rule.
Nuances Clarification of Rules around Goals and Skates:
A goal will only be allowed as a goal – IF:
- If a player deflects the kicked puck off the stick into the net.
- If a puck deflects off with a skate but is keen not to use a distinct kicking motion.
A goal will not be allowed as a goal – IF:
- If a puck deflects off the goalkeeper’s stick and goes into the net.
- If the puck deflects off with a skate and is sure to have used a distinct kicking motion.
- Kicking of any equipment (i.e., gloves, helmet) at the puck to score. Because the intention becomes evident and the actions seem awkward.
- If a kicked puck deflects off the pads or body other than the skate and enters the net.
There is no rule that states sweeping with your skate is not allowed. Just keep in mind that the pace at which the player skates is faster than the pace you play in the high school hockey game. It only takes a few milliseconds.
The Bottom Line on Can you Kick the Puck in Hockey?
Finally, we can say ‘YES’, yes we can kick the puck in hockey – just simply not into the net. If you watch carefully, you can see how NHL players quickly use their feet and skates in seconds, and sometimes it seems like they are playing football.