Yes, BYU does have a hockey team. No, all the players aren’t Canadian.
Hockey combines the physicality of football and rugby with the precise, athletic ability of basketball and soccer. It’s a fast-paced, punishing game for the players, and a captivating sport to watch, especially live.
Many of the players begin playing as a child, starting in youth leagues or playing on a nearby pond. Beginning to play hockey isn’t just a hobby for many of the players; it’s a step into a whole new culture.
The game is played on a 200 by 85 foot rink, surrounded by 4 foot boards and covered in ice. The ice is split into three sections: one for each team, as well as a neutral zone. The zones are separated by blue lines, which help the referees keep players from going offsides.
BYU has 24 players on their roster but only 20 players are allowed to play each game. There are four positions in hockey: goaltender, defender, wing and center. The defenders are usually larger than the wings and centers — or forwards — while forwards are generally smaller but quick on the ice.
The forwards advance the puck while looking for opportunities on goal. A standard tactic is to send a wing in front of goal to wrestle for position on net. This helps block the goalie’s line of sight while putting the player in an excellent spot for a rebound. Forwards will use snap shots or wrist shots to try to get the puck past the goalie. A wrist shot is a quick shot with the power coming from the arms, while a snap shot is a shot without a wind up.
Defenders try to break up the play of forwards by either stealing the puck or separating the player from the puck, which is called checking. They do not want forwards in front of the net so they use all their strength to keep the net clear for their goalie. On offense, they float near the blue line to keep the puck in zone. They also launch slap shots at goal, aiming low in hopes of a deflection to a teammate.
The goalie is the last line of defense for the team. Goaltenders often use their glove — called a trapper — in their off-hand, while wearing a blocker on their dominant hand. They are also equipped with a helmet and leg pads that are useful for stopping shots. The goalies operate in the crease, the blue ice half circle in front of the net. If a player enters the crease before scoring, the goal is usually not allowed. Goaltenders don’t like opponents screening them either, and occasionally they will knock players out of the way, which is illegal.
If a player does something illegal, the referee raises his hand and stops play when the game dictates. If the penalized team scores while awaiting a penalty, the goal isn’t allowed. The penalized team then has to defend, or kill, the other teams power play opportunity. The penalized player sits in the penalty box for the duration of the penalty cannot be replaced during the length of the penalty.