Hooking in Hockey: A Guide to the NHL’s Hooking Penalty
Hooking in Hockey is when a player uses his stick to slow down or prevent an opposing player from making a play on the puck or getting into a better position on the ice. The result of this infraction is a usually a 2-minute Minor Penalty but can warrant a 5-minute Major Penalty depending on the severity of the infraction.
Following the lockout year in 2005, there has been a spike in hooking penalties called by referees, with the hopes of decreasing injury and speeding up the pace of the game.
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- Video Example of Hooking in Hockey
- Referee Signal for Hooking
- Penalties for Hooking
- Official NHL Hooking Rule Text (Rule 55)
- Hooking vs. Holding
Video Example of Hooking in Hockey
This clip is a great example of what a hooking infraction looks like in an ice hockey game. The Canadians player (white jersey, #65) is battling with a Ducks player (black jersey, #45) for position in front of the net. As the shot comes in, it rebounds off the goalie and into the corner.
As both of them are skating towards the puck, the Canadians player’s stick can be seen getting caught around the midsection of the Ducks player. Not only does this action slow down, but it causes him to fall, allowing another Canadians player to gather the puck. Following this, the referee calls the Canadians player for a Hooking penalty.
Referee Signal for Hooking
Tugging motion with both hands, starting away from the body and moving inwards toward the stomach.
Penalties for Hooking
In most cases, Hooking in Hockey will result in a 2-minute Minor Penalty. However, depending on the severity of the infraction, the referee can issue a 5-minute Major Penalty.
Furthermore, if a player uses his stick to hook an opposing player causing an injury, whether intentional or not, a 5-minute Major Penalty plus Game Misconduct Penalty can be assessed. The guilty player is also automatically fined $100 if a Game Misconduct Penalty is assessed.
Official NHL Hooking Rule Text (Rule 55)
55.1 Hooking - Hooking is the act of using the stick in a manner that enables a player or goalkeeper to restrain an opponent. When a player is checking another in such a way that there is only stick-to-stick contact, such action is not to be penalized as hooking.
55.2 Minor Penalty - A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player or goalkeeper who impedes the progress of an opponent by "hooking" with his stick. A minor penalty for hooking shall be assessed to any player or goalkeeper who uses the shaft of the stick above the upper hand to hold or hook an opponent.
55.3 Major Penalty - A major penalty shall be imposed on any player or goalkeeper who injures an opponent by "hooking."
Hooking vs. Holding
The act of Hooking in Hockey and Holding in Hockey are very similar as both fall within the “restraining fouls” category. Both include actions that prevent an opposing player from making forward progress. During a Hooking infraction, a player will use his stick to restrain an opposing player. However, a Holding infraction is the use of the hands, arms, or legs to restrain an opposing player.
Another key difference between the two is that Holding infractions can only warrant a 2-minute Minor Penalty. Hooking infractions can warrant a 2-minute Minor Penalty, along with a 5-minute Major Penalty and Game Misconduct Penalty.
This article was originally published on May 1, 2020, and has been updated with new information.