The Ice Hockey Rink: What do those markings mean?


If you’re a new hockey fan, you may be wondering: Why are there markings on the rink? and What do they mean?

We’re here to help! 

To make things easier to understand, we will explain the rink from the perspective of one team.  Our team will be defending the left side of the diagram, and trying to score on the right side.


There are two blue lines and 3 red lines.  The blue lines separate the defensive and offensive zones from the neutral zone.  The center red line separates the two halves of the rink and is used to determine things like Icing and Penalty Shots.  The outside red lines are the goal lines.  The puck must cross the goal line completely in between the goal posts to be a goal.  The goal line also determines whether icing has occurred.


There are 3 main zones and one special zone that applies only to goaltenders.  First, there’s the defensive zone.  Looking at the diagram above, our defensive zone would be everything to the left of the defensive blue line.  Our goalie would be defending the goal in this zone.

In between the two blue lines is the neutral zone.  There are no off-sides in entering this zone as it doesn’t belong to either side.

To the right of the neutral zone is our offensive zone (and the other team’s defensive zone).  The puck must cross the blue line into this zone before our players are allowed to enter, otherwise we would be off sides.

The final zone, is a goaltender zone.  It is a trapezoid shape located directly behind the net. Besides the crease, this is the only zone where the goalie may handle the puck.

Goal Crease

The goal crease is the area where the goalie may handle the puck unimpeded.  Any opposing player that comes in contact with the goalie inside the crease while he is trying to make a save can be charged with goaltender interference.

Face-Off Dots

These dots are where play begins. Face-offs take place in the center of the ice at the beginning of each period, as well as after a goal has been scored. The outlying dots with circles around them are used after penalties, icing, goalie stoppage, or when the puck has gone out of play off of a defender.  The circles surrounding the dots represent the area that players are not allowed in during a face-off unless they are one of the two players participating in it. The dots near the blue lines are for face-offs following off sides, puck out of play of an offender, and also penalties.

Have more questions about the game?  Leave a comment below and we’ll answer them for you here, or in a new post!