In November 2016, the sport was renamed and rebranded from IPC Ice Sledge Hockey to Para ice hockey. Para ice hockey is fast-paced, highly physical and played by male and female athletes with a physical impairment in the lower part of the body.
It follows in principle the rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) with modifications. Instead of skates, players use double-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. Players use two sticks, which have a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting.
Para ice hockey is popular at the Paralympic Winter Games. A Para ice hockey game is played between two teams consisting of 13 players and two goalkeepers per team. The Game is officiated by a referee and two linesmen. The players on the ice for one team typically consist of three forwards, two defensemen and one goalkeeper and each team tries to score by shooting the puck into its opponent’s goal. The puck is made of vulcanized rubber and must be 7.62 cm (3”) in diameter, 2.54 cm (1”) thick and weigh between 156 and170 grams (5.5-6 ounces). The goal nets are about 183 cm (6’) wide and 122 cm (4’) high.
Players can be given penalties if they don’t follow the rules. Because of the physical nature of the game, all players are required to wear a helmet with a full face mask as well as a protective throat protector. Players are also encouraged to wear protective padding, including shoulder pads, shin guards, elbow pads and large padded gloves that cover the hands and wrists. In addition, the goalkeeper wears leg pads, body pads, a helmet with a visor, a blocking glove and a catching glove to protect the athlete from pucks flying up to 100 km/h.
The game is played on an enclosed sheet of ice called a rink, with markings specific for the rules of play which also divides the rink in the following zones: Defending Zone, Neutral Zone and Attacking Zone. The rink dimensions are 60 meters in length, 30 meters in width and the four corners are rounded. The rink must be made fair and safe for players and set up in a way which also considers spectator’s safety with special protective shielding and netting around the end zone boards.
Description of the Event
- A game consists of three periods of 15 minutes plus overtime and a penalty/shot shootout if required. Between each regular period there is a 15 minute intermission during which time the ice will be resurfaced.
- Skaters may move about freely in any manner and play whatever positions they wish during game actions, but the six standard positions of play are goaltender, left defence, right defence, centre, left wing and right wing.
- Only one goaltender is allowed on the ice during game action at any one time. This goaltender may be removed and substituted by a skater. However, this replacement skater is not allowed to play under the rules pertaining to a goaltender, notably in the matter of equipment, freezing the puck, and physical contact with opponents.
- This position defends the team’s goal net by stopping the shots of the puck from entering the net, thus preventing the opposing team from scoring. This is a very important position in a team and it is also often said that a good goalkeeper can win the game, also when his teammates do not have the best performance.
Defence (left and right)
- Also called defensemen, their primary responsibility is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. Defensemen must be very good in skating backwards and work very closely and cooperate with the goalkeeper in the defending zone. A good defenseman is both strong in defensive and offensive play.
- This is a forward position whose primary zone of play is in the middle of the ice, away from the boards. In the defensive zone the center player assists the defensemen to prevent the opposing team from scoring. They are expected to be creative and to generate scoring chances in cooperation with the right and left wingers in the attacking zone but also use the defensemen for creating such scoring chances.
Wing (left and right)
- The primary zone of the winger on the ice is along the outer playing area. Usually the left wing skates on the left side and the right wing on the right side. In the defensive zone they are assisting their colleagues in the “defensive play” and in the attacking zone they try to score, using the center and defensemen to create scoring changes.