How The Game Is Played

Ice hockey is played on an ice rink, which is narrower in North America than in Europe, although both are the same length. Some people say that Canadians like the rink to be narrower because it stops people getting away from each other and, therefore, encourages more fisticuffs. This may or may not be true, but it is certainly the fact that ice hockey in North America has more violence than the European version does. (An American comedian used the line: “Went to the fights last night and a hockey game broke out.”)

The rink is surrounded by a wal640px-Ice_hockey_layout.svgl one metre high which is known as “the boards” and is topped by Plexiglass to prevent a flying puck from leaving the rink and hitting a spectator. These days, most hockey players will wear a face mask attached to the helmet; in the past, it was unusual to meet an ice hockey player who did not have facial scars from being hit by a puck. Ice hockey pucks are made of rubber, are very hard and move at extremely high speeds when properly struck.

The game is divided into three periods of 20 minutes each, with a 15 minute interval between each. At the end of the hour of regulation time, whoever has scored most goals is the winner. It used to be that a game that came to an end with the scores equal was called a draw and the points divided between the two teams. This is still the case in the National Ice Hockey League, in which Streatham Redskins play, but, in the higher leagues, draws are no longer accepted, and “overtime” is played with four players on each side contesting the issue for five minutes on a sudden-death basis. If there is still no result at the end of that, three players from each side enter a penalty shootout and, if that is still not enough to settle the score, the shootout becomes a sudden-death affair.


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