Why Do Players Get Kicked Out in Faceoffs in Hockey?

Hockey players at face-off

In hockey, the whistle blows, but play doesn't start until the linesman drops the puck. The centers of the two opposing teams quickly line up for a faceoff to start the play. Winning the faceoff is key to gaining possession of the puck. If a player is trying to gain an improper edge at puck drop, the official throws that player out of the faceoff circle.

The Five Second Rule

Once an official skates to one of the nine faceoff circles and is prepared to drop the puck, the players only have five seconds to position themselves for the faceoff. If a player is not in position because he is giving instructions to his teammates or for any other reason, the official drops the puck anyway. If the player is in the circle, but doesn't have his skates in the proper position and is at an angle, he is tossed from the faceoff circle and a teammate must take the faceoff.

Can't Touch Him

Once the puck is dropped on the ice, both players can move and maneuver to gain control of the puck. However, any contact between the two players must occur after the puck has dropped. If either player initiates contact before the puck is dropped, he is put out of the faceoff circle. This includes contact between two players' sticks. If the referee thinks both players tried to move prematurely, he can eject them both from the faceoff circle.

Stick Down!

Players must put their sticks on the ice prior to the faceoff. Some players try to gain an edge by keeping the stick's blade slightly off the surface of the ice. This gives him the advantage coming away from the faceoff. He can chop down with his stick onto the opponent's stick and knock the puck away. The referee throws the player out of the faceoff circle if his stick blade is in the air and off the surface of the ice.

Winning the Faceoff

When a hockey linesman prepares to start the play, he skates to the faceoff circle with the puck in hand and blows his whistle. If the players are positioned correctly, the linesman drops the puck as close as he can to the center of the faceoff dot. As the puck hits the ice, the players battle for control of the puck with their sticks. In most cases, the player tries to pull the puck backwards to a waiting teammate. The quickest and strongest player has the edge at winning the faceoff.