Can Hockey Goalies Throw the Puck?

Posted on May 4, 2020 by Dan Kent
hockey goalie

Hockey goalies need to be nimble and agile with cat-like reflexes to pull off some of the tremendous saves they do. They’re the only players on the ice who wear catching gloves and while they are allowed certain liberties and advantages when it comes to the rules they aren’t allowed to get away with everything.

Hockey rules state that goalies aren’t allowed to throw the puck forwards or to a teammate but they may occasionally get away with tossing it into the corner or dropping it behind the net. If a goalie does throw the puck forwards it will result in a two-minute minor penalty. In fact, all hockey players on the ice are forbidden from throwing the puck but they may bat it away with their open hand as long as it doesn’t go to a teammate outside of the defensive zone.

Catching the Puck

Goaltenders wear a specific catching glove in net and this enables them to catch even the hardest of shots from the opposition. They aren’t the only players on the ice who are allowed to catch the puck though as all players can do so.

However, when any player other than the goalie catches the puck out of midair they must immediately drop the puck to the ice. If they skate with the puck in their hand the referee will assess them a minor penalty for closing their hand on the puck.

In addition, a player isn’t allowed to pick the puck up from the ice without receiving a minor penalty but a goaltender can pick up the puck.

Handling the Puck

Players can stop the puck while it’s in midair or bat it away with an open hand. They can also push it along the ice. However, if the puck is deliberately directed to a teammate in any zone on the ice other than the defending zone play will be whistled dead by an official .

This is ruled as a hand pass but it is allowed if a player directs the puck to a teammate in their own defending zone.

Goaltender Penalties

Goalies are permitted to hold the puck in their hands for up to three seconds if they aren’t in jeopardy of being checked by the opposition. If they hold the puck for longer than three seconds while there are no opposing players in the vicinity they are assessed a minor penalty for delay of game. This rule is enforced to keep the flow of the game going.

Goalkeepers also receive a minor penalty when they hold the puck in any such manner which results in the unnecessary halt in play. Like all other players, if a goalie bats the puck into the crowd with their hand or stick they end up with a minor penalty for delay of game.

If a goalie throws the puck forwards on the ice it’s punishable with a minor penalty. However, if the puck is thrown forward by the goalie and an opponent receives the puck the play is allowed to continue. If the opposing team scores a goal on the ensuing play it’s allowed but if no goal is scored then the play is halted and the goalie receives a penalty for throwing the puck.

A minor penalty is also given to a goalie who drops the puck deliberately into their goal pads or onto the top of the goal net. Also if a goalie piles snow up in front of the goal line or anywhere near the net to help slow the puck down it will result in a minor penalty.

Pucks in the Goal Crease

When the puck is in the blue paint on the ice in the goal crease the goalie is the only player who is allowed to handle the puck. A goalie may fall on the puck, pick it up, cover it with their body, catch it or bat it away.

If any other player on the defending team plays the puck in any of these manners while it’s in the goal crease it will result in a penalty shot for the opposition. If the defending player is outside of the goal crease it results in a minor penalty.

In addition, if a player is guilty of any of these infractions in the goal crease when their goaltender has been replaced on the ice by an extra attacker a goal will be awarded to the opposition.

When it comes to hockey players throwing the puck, goaltenders are basically treated the same as everybody else. Nobody is allowed to throw the puck forwards or to a teammate. If a goalie attempts to do so though it results in a minor penalty.

If any other player attempted to throw the puck in this manner it would result in a whistle and stoppage of play or possibly a penalty for closing the hand on the puck. .

The rule is enforced since the team with the puck would be deemed to have an unfair advantage if the goalie was allowed to throw it up the ice. However, there is no specific rule which forbids a goalie to toss the puck gently behind the net or into the a corner of the rink in their own end of the ice.

This must be done in an underhanded throwing motion though rather than tossing the puck overhand.

There are always several rule changes in the NHL and ice hockey in general each year but fans across the globe shouldn’t expect the rule forbidding goalies to throw the puck to be altered in any way.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada,

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