How many players are on an NHL team? Explained

Hockey can be quite a complex game to comprehend, unlike baseball and basketball. However, if you try to understand this game systematically, you can get familiar with it in no time. Though there are multiple complex terminologies in hockey, you need to start with the basics. 

The foremost aspect you need to acknowledge regarding hockey is the number of players, their dress, and their role in the gameplay. Understanding the arrangement of players on the ice will help you know how this game works. So, how many hockey players are on a team?

For NHL, there are 20 players that are documented on a list as a part of the team. But only 06 players take part in a normal course of play. However, in hockey, the number of players keeps shuffling due to game rules. 

If you want to know more about how many hockey players in a team are and their alignment on the ice field, check out the following context. Here you will find an elaborative guide on hockey rules and players’ dressing in a game. 

How many players dress for a game?

In a normal game, only 6 players are allowed on the ice field from each team. But typically, more than 6 people dress for the game. In NHL, each team can dress up to 20 players. 

A higher than the required number of people are dressed to either play during the overtime, or penalties, or can be used as a replacement for an injured player. In each team, the 20 players are dressed according to the following arrangement:

  • 2 Goalies
  • 6 Defensemen
  • 12 Forwards (4 Right Wing, 4 Centres, 4 Left Wing)
How many players dress for a game in nhl

Every team in the NHL session has to submit a roster of players for the league. A roster is formed by a team of at least 20 and a maximum of 23 players. The statement implies that each team must have a roster if they want to participate in the NHL tournament. 

Any of the 6 players within a roster can participate in the game. Moreover, they can even shuffle their places after every game so that every player can participate in the tournament. 

Related Post: Why Do Hockey Players Leave Their Sticks On The Ice?

How many players are during the normal course of the play?

Those asking how many hockey players are in a team for regular course play should first understand the term normal course. The normal course play is also called the 5-on-5 full-strength or even-strength gameplay. 

The normal course is that game time when there is no overtime or penalties. There are about 6 players from each team on the ground during a normal course play. The following is the distribution of players on the ice during even-strength play. 

  • Goalie
  • Defensemen
  • Forwards (Right Wing, Centre, Left Wing)
How many players are during the normal course of the play?

Though 6 players are participating from each team in the game, the game is called 5-on-5 because only five players are on the ice field, while one player, i.e., the goalie, is present in the net off the field to safeguard it from the opponent’s attack. 

The defensemen and 3 forwards remain on the ice field while the goalie is assigned to protect the ground net. The players on the ground try to goal into the opponent’s net and protect their net from the opponent’s goal.

What happens to the number of players on the ice with penalties?

People new to ice hockey often get confused thinking about how many hockey players are on a team when there is a penalty and what happens to them. The following context can guide you if you also wonder the same. 

But before understanding how players participate in a penalty, it is vital to acknowledge the term ‘penalty‘ in ice hockey. A penalty can be classified as a severe breach of regulations or sportsmanship that causes the guilty player to sit off-field for about two minutes. The guilty player’s team has 4 skaters on the field, while their opponent’s team still has 5 skaters

What happens to the number of players on the ice with penalties?

The 5 skaters from the victimized team are given a better chance to score the goal as their opponent’s team is now short of one player. However, during all of this, the goalies from both teams remain unaffected, and they have to protect their net from being a goal. 

Thus, there are 4 skaters on the field instead of 5 with one penalty. If the same team gets a penalty within those two minutes again, another player will be shot out of the team for two minutes. As a result, that team will be left with 3 skaters on the ice that will eventually give their opponent an excellent chance to score a goal. 

However, there can be no less than 3 players on the team. The following are a few team combinations that can play on the ice. 

  • 5-on-5 (five skaters from both teams)
  • 5-on-4 (when a team gets a penalty)
  • 4-on-4 (when both teams get a penalty)
  • 5-on-3 (when a team receives two penalties)
  • 4-on-3 (when one team gets a single penalty while the other gets two penalties)
  • 3-on-3 (when both teams get two penalties)

Related Post: What are the Basic Rules of Hockey?

How many players are on the Ice in overtime?

A 3-on-3 game is played during an overtime session instead of a 5-on-5. Thus, in an overtime session, there are 3 skaters and 1 goalie in the net from each team. If a penalty is given to a specific team during this team, its opponent’s team is increased with another skater, and the game would be 4-on-3. 

How many players are on the Ice in overtime?

How many players are on the Ice for Playoff overtime?

For a regular session, the overtime is 3-on-3, but for an NHL session, the playoff overtime is 5-on-5. However, during this session, the time regulation changed. When the third period is over, there is an intermission of about 15 minutes. After that, a 20-minute 5-on-5 game is again played between the same teams. During this session, the winner is decided by a death goal.

How many players are on the Ice for Playoff overtime?

Related Post: What Is An Empty Net Goal In Hockey?

What happens if you have the wrong number of players on the ice?

Hockey is a continuous and strenuous game. Any of the 20 players from the roster can participate in the game, and they can also exchange places with one another at any point. Thus, sometimes during this exchange, the number of players on the ice may become more or less. 

For instance, a team on the ice may have 6 players instead of 5; they are given a penalty in such situations. The coach of that team not only has to lessen one player from the team but also has to make a player sit in the stands for two minutes as a penalty. In this way, there remain only four skaters on the ice, which can effectively disrupt their gameplay.

Frequently Asked Question

Can a team have less than 20 players on their roster?

Yes, a team can have less than 20 players on their roster, but they must have a minimum of 18 players on their active roster.

What happens if a team has more than 23 players on their roster?

If a team has more than 23 players on their roster, they must make roster moves to get back down to the maximum of 23 players.

Why can only 20 players dress and participate in an NHL game?

The NHL has a rule that limits the number of players who can dress for a game to 20, including two goaltenders, to ensure fairness and competitive balance between teams.

Conclusion: How many players are on an NHL team?

Now that you know how many hockey players in a team are and how the gameplay works, you will be able to understand the complexities of this game. Ice hockey might be a little challenging game to comprehend, but once you try to understand it, it can be an exciting game. 

Similar Posts