What’s That Call? Hand Pass
Hockey is clearly a sport that is intended to be played with a stick. That’s why you’re not allowed to kick the puck into the goal like a soccer player or grab the puck and skate with it like a football player. But you do see players swatting the puck around with a gloved hand from time to time—and occasionally you’ll see the linesman stop the game, or a referee call a penalty or even a disallow a goal due to a hand pass. Depending on your eyesight and viewpoint, it can certainly be hard to distinguish a legal hand pass from an illegal one. After five tournament games with a fair amount of hand action but just one call, we set out to find out the difference.
What you need to know about the hand pass: As you might guess from it’s name, a hand pass is when you pass the puck to a teammate with your hand rather than stick. A hand pass is almost always illegal. Batting the puck out of the air and onto the ice, on the other hand, is generally legal. (When you have to use terms like “almost always” and “generally,” you know you’re not dealing with the most clear-cut rule.) Here’s how it works:
- You can’t make a hand pass to a teammate in the neutral zone or your offensive zone; this results in a faceoff. You can, however, make a hand pass to a teammate when you’re in your defensive zone.
- You can stop or bat the puck with an open hand—but you can’t close your hand around it. Closing your hand around the puck results in a faceoff.
- You can’t do anything with your hands that takes the puck out of play.
- You can push the puck along the ice with your hand—but you can’t pick it up. Picking up the puck results in a minor penalty.
- You can’t score by batting the puck into the goal—even if it’s deflected off another player. A goal scored by hand pass will be disallowed.
- Goaltenders have different rules for use of their hands.
To further clarify, Bantam coach Jeff provided this explanation: “The puck can’t touch a player’s hand, intentional or not, then be touched by a player on your own team. A hand pass will be waved off if it is (1) touched first by the player who used his or her hand, or (2) a member of the other team touches the puck. You are free to hand pass the puck to a teammate if you are in your defensive zone.”
When a linesman or referee calls a hand pass, he or she mimics an underhand pass with the non-whistle hand.
What else is there to know? USA Hockey provides plenty of information about using your hands in hockey on pages 72–74 of the 2009–11 Official Rules of Ice Hockey booklet available at www.usahockey.com. See the signal for Hand Pass on page 113 as well.
See it in action: See a legal hand pass and Chris Stewart’s first NHL goal here!
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Kelly Anton with the Grow the Game Initiative for this story.
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