What is a Face-Off in Hockey? (with pictures)

After a pause in the game, many sports let a particular team regain control of the puck. There are instances of the beginning of the game with a skater that started with the puck in hoops, football, soccer, and ice hockey. In hockey, there are no such cases.

For every high school, college, AHL, Canadian, and NHL game, there is a face-off on the center ice. Both the winning team and the opposing team select a player to set up at the rink center. Then they wait for the umpire to throw the puck to begin the game. There is a struggle between the opponents to take control of the ball once the game is stopped that is called faceoff hockey.

Now I am going to give the full clarification of face-off regulations, the significance of the ice rings, and the reasons why hockey players are expelled.

What is a face-off in Hockey?

In hockey, the game is initiated with a faceoff after a pause, after a score, or at the beginning of a game. One player from each squad reaches the faceoff zone and waits for the referee to release the puck. He will throw the puck before engaging in a competition to determine who gets control of the puck.

What is a Face-Off in Hockey

The center players will stay on the rink and wait for the puck. As teams compete for control of the ball and initiative in the match, the faceoff is a critical part of the match. It is also essential to start the match.

When is there a face-off in Hockey?

A faceoff is necessary to restart the game after a variety of circumstances that forces the match to pause. So, the majority of face-offs are brought on by the following four conditions:

  1. At the beginning of a new phase.
  2. After achieving a goal.
  3. After the sound of the whistle for a punishment or a non-penalty violation. It includes offsides or icing.
  4. When the puck exits from the field.

A halt in the game and a faceoff will also occur due to these unusual activities:

  1. When the squad with the injured skater hits the puck, the whistle will be sounded.
  2. When the umpire is unable to see the puck.
  3. When something unexpected occurs that isn’t approved by the regulations of the NHL.

You can Read this article: How Many Hockey Players In a Team?

How do they determine where the faceoff will take place?

The red faceoff marks placed across the ice-skating rink represent the nine various locations where a faceoff can be taken in the game. To begin the game, the referees will get one of these faceoff points. But how will they decide which one to utilize? Let’s discuss it.

  • Center Ice Dot
  • 4 Blue line dots
  • 4 Faceoff Dots closest to the Goaltender

1. Center Ice Dot

This is utilized at the beginning of each period. Also, it can be used when a point is made and is placed in the middle of the ice.

Center Ice Dot

2. 4 Blue line dots

These are utilized after games that have been ruled offside, and they are situated in the normal range. The referee then selects the dot that is nearest to the real offside.

4 Blue line dots in ice hockey

3. 4 Faceoff Dots closest to the Goaltender

The four faceoff lines that are nearest to the goalie will be utilized most commonly throughout the match. The two main possibilities are:

  • The faceoff dot nearest to the point where the action stopped, is selected after a goaltender stops the puck.
  • The faceoff will take place in the area of the squad that was penalized and is now without a player once a penalty is assessed.
4 Faceoff Dots closest to the Goaltender

Where to stand in a hockey faceoff?


  1. The two centermen will pair up with the faceoff circle in the middle of them, opposite each other.
  2. There can be no other players inside the neutral zone. These five are situated in the middle of the ice and close to the goaltenders.
  3. The flanker is not permitted to stay near boundary markers other than their wing.

Main Strategy

As you might have seen, some opponents are positioned apart from the neutral zone. They are placed away from the zone rather than stopping themselves across the rings.

This happens to offer his squad control of the puck. So, they can either make a quick goal-scoring shot or build up a game off the faceoff that the center is striving to win the power play.

A centerman will make an effort to get the puck to the defense. This player is sufficiently distant from the center of the mark to have the opportunity to shoot or locate another player. That player will be big enough to catch a pass and keep control of the puck.

Once the puck is released, other skaters are now allowed to go into the shootout mark. They cannot assist the center, who is still trying to take the power play.

Who has to put their stick down first?

When you see a hockey match, you might observe that the first player always sets his stick down before the next. How do they determine who will go in the start? The member of the visiting squad is the one who enters first.

Who has to put their stick down first

The center from the visiting team will precede this skater. They will place their sticks down into the white zone.

The following methods will give an advantage to the visiting team:

  • The host squad is allowed to view the opponent’s setting and the position of his hands on his stick. It reveals how the player is trying to win the power play. Your bottom hand will be placed either in front or behind when you take a power play. This will indicate for which squad you are trying to win the power play. Depending on this, the second player can change his technique.
  • Additionally, the first skater’s stick remained fixed and placed for a longer duration of time. Due to this, the second skater will have some power against him.

Why do players switch in faceoffs?

There has been a power play infraction when skaters change during faceoffs. Any skater on the rink can perform differently than how the regulations specify before the puck is thrown. This indicates a power play infraction.

So, if a faceoff infraction occurs, the squad that committed the infraction must change the power play handler with other teammates. They will have to change the player before proceeding with the power play.

players switch in faceoffs

The player handling the power play must be changed instantly if the squad has been penalized for a power play infraction. Otherwise, the umpire will simply throw the puck before they are prepared.

A squad will be assessed a 2-minute stoppage of play punishment if they commit two faceoff infractions during the same power play.

What constitutes a faceoff violation?

  • Due to the puck release, a non-center skater enters the power play area. A team’s stick can be at the top of the circle, but not their body.
  • A skater will hit the oval markings boundary but cannot pass it if another player does so.
  • Any violent conflict before the puck is released between opponents.
  • When a center fails to stand in the perfect or accurate place.

A squad will be at a severe disadvantage if their initial center is disqualified from the power play.

The greatest faceoff takers on every squad are represented by specific skaters. Simply, they beat the competition in terms of faceoff wins. So, the trainer gives these skaters more responsibility to take faceoffs.

faceoff violation in hockey

A squad would place two centers on the rink at the end of a match when they have to take a tie. It will help to ensure that they have a player who excels at winning chances there. They are unwilling to allow the opposing side to quickly gain control of the puck.

Does the puck have to hit the ice on a faceoff?

No, a center is not required to move his stick. Also, a player is not permitted to cross the power play ring before the puck touches the ground. Players are free to participate in the game once the referee releases the puck.

So, it is challenging to deflect the puck with your pole before it falls on the ground. Most centermen will attempt to draw the puck back toward one of their teammates. They will do this by matching the ball’s impact with the ground with their stick.

Another method is one of the centers attempting to lift the opposition’s stick before the pole touches the ground. They will try to lift before kicking the puck with the foot back to their defenders.

How is a faceoff win determined?

The squad that has possession of the puck for the longest period after the power play is identified as the winner. The first person to contact the puck does not affect anything.

faceoff win determined

Even if a player touches the puck first, the opposing side can still move it and retake control to win the match. So, control of the puck rather than the initial puck connection matters.

How important is it to win a faceoff in hockey?

Some people claim that there is little connection between a player’s power play % and their ability to win games. There are a lot of faceoffs during the match, but very few of them result in scores against the opposite team.

With less than two minutes remaining in the match, you might see a major goal tie the game on the opposite side. It can occur due to a faceoff victory. So, it appears that certain faceoff victories are crucial.

In addition, having control of the puck is highly valued by teams. They seek to control the puck for a higher percentage of the match than the opposing side. It is because victory is significantly associated with the control ratio.

2022-23 NHL Team Face-Off Win Percentage Leaders

FO% RankTeamFO%
1stChicago Blackhawks60.0%
2ndBoston Bruins56.8%
3rdLos Angeles Kings56.3%
4thNew Jersey Devils55.7%
5thCarolina Hurricanes54.8%
6thNashville Predators54.4%
7thOttawa Senators53.5%
8thNew York Rangers53.2%
9thDallas Stars53.2%
10thMontreal Canadiens52.5%
11thVegas Golden Knights52.1%
12thCalgary Flames51.8%
13thEdmonton Oilers51.7%
14thToronto Maple Leafs51.5%
15thSan Jose Sharks49.8%
16thNew York Islanders49.4%
17thColumbus Blue Jackets49.4%
18thSt. Louis Blues49.3%
19thPittsburgh Penguins49.1%
20thFlorida Panthers48.5%
Source: statspros

Conclusion: What is a Face-Off in Hockey?

A process that is used to start the game after a pause or after scoring a goal is called Faceoff in hockey. In this method, two players from each team stand on the rink and wait for the referee to release the puck.

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