Hockey is a game played with sticks, which means there are very few circumstances when you should be using your hands to touch the puck.  But what are the rules, and when *can* you touch the puck with your hands?

USA Hockey Rule 618: Handling the puck with your hands

For this story, assume we are going to be using the USA Hockey rule for handling the puck with your hands.

Grabbing or closing your hand on the puck (Rule 618a)

  • If any player (except the goalie) closes their hand on the puck and does not immediately drop the puck, play will be stopped and a face off will occur at the faceoff dot nearest the last play.
  • If any player (other than the goalie) who picks up the puck with his hand or hands while play is in progress, a minor penalty for delay of game will be assessed.
  • If any player (other than the goalie) picks up the puck with his hand(s) or holds the puck while play is in progress AND the puck is in the goal crease, the other team will be awarded a penalty shot and/or optional minor penalty.
    • If this happens during an empty net and prevents an imminent goal, a goal will be awarded to the non-offending team.

Propelling the puck (Rule 618b)

  • No one, including both the player and goalie, is allowed to “bat” the puck in the air, or push it along the ice with their hand, directly to a teammate. If this happens in the player’s neutral or attacking zone, play will stop and a face off will take place at the faceoff dot closest to the last play (as long as no territorial advantage is gained)
    • If the player is in their defending zone, they are allowed to do this.
  • A goal cannot be scored by a puck that is “propelled” by the hand of a offensive player, even if the puck touches off another player before entering the goal.

Throwing the puck (Rule 618c)

  • The goalie is not allowed to hold the puck for more than three seconds while in a pressured situation.
    • A goalie will first receive a warning from the ref, but if they do it again, they will be given a minor penalty for delay of game.
  • If a goalie catches the puck and then “throws” it toward their opponent’s goal, and it is first played by their teammate, play will be stopped and a faceoff will happen at the nearest end faceoff dot off the other team.

Handling the hockey puck

There are a few circumstances when you can touch the hockey puck with your hands, but there are not many. Whether you are a skater or a goalie, it’s important to learn the different pieces of this rule and when you can and can’t handle the puck in ice hockey.