A hockey penalty shot is a rare situation in any hockey league where a player is allowed a one-on-one shot with the goalie. There are a few situations when a penalty shot would be awarded:

5 steps to determine a penalty shot

There are five criteria to a penalty shot being called:

  1. The player who is fouled must have control of the puck.
  2. The player must be beyond their defending blue line toward their offensive zone.
  3. There was no opponent between the player and the goalie (they had an unabated path to the goal).
  4. The player must be fouled directly from behind or diagonally from behind.
    • An opponent who has an angle on the player and fouls them from the side may cause a penalty, but it’s not a penalty shot.
  5. The player has been deprived of a “reasonable scoring opportunity.”
    • If the player is fouled but they *still* have a scoring opportunity, then a penalty shot shouldn’t be awarded.

These five criteria for a penalty shot are the same in USA Hockey, Hockey Canada, and the NHL.

Who can take a penalty shot?

If a specific player has been fouled, then that player should be the one to take the shot, except in a few circumstances:

  • If a specific player was not fouled, the captain of the non-offending team will choose someone from his team who was on the ice at the time of the play to take the penalty shot.
  • If the player who was fouled is injured at the time of the penalty, the captain of the non-offending team will choose someone from his team who was on the ice at the time of the play to take the penalty shot.

Once a player is chosen to take the penalty shot, that player may not be changed unless they incur a game misconduct or match penalty before taking the penalty shot.

If the player who is designated to take the shot incurs a minor or misconduct penalty in connection with the play before taking the penalty shot, they can still complete the penalty shot before they take their place on the penalty bench.

Goalies are the only players who can defend against a penalty shot.

How to take a penalty shot?

  • The referee will place the puck on the center face-off dot.
  • The player will take the puck from the center spot and will attempt to score on the goalie.
  • Once the player touches the puck, it must be kept in motion and the player has to move in a forward motion until they shoot.
  • No goals can be scored on a rebound.
  • The goalie can attempt to stop the puck in any way, except by throwing their stick (which will incur a minor penalty).
  • All other players must be on their team bench while the penalty shot is happening.

Other things to know about penalty shots

  • If the penalty that occurred would normally incur a minor penalty, the non-offending team may elect to assess a minor penalty instead of a penalty shot. If this happens, a 2-minute power play would occur.
  • If the penalty that occurred would normally incur a major or match penalty, that penalty will be imposed as well as the penalty shot. If there were any additional misconduct penalties assessed during the play, that will also be assessed.
  • Penalty shots will happen right after the penalty happens (or after the stoppage of play on a delayed penalty).
  • The penalty shot will not be included in regular playing time.
  • If a goal is scored on the penalty shot, the faceoff will occur at the center dot.
  • If a goal is not scored on the penalty shot, the faceoff will occur at the end zone faceoff spot.