It does not take more than a quick glance to notice the clear difference between an ice hockey puck vs a roller hockey puck but have you ever wondered why?
The short and simple answer is that an ice hockey puck is made of vulcanized rubber and is much heavier – designed for gliding across the ice. Roller hockey pucks are made of plastic and are much lighter, allowing them to slide more easily on solid surfaces.
Why make the pucks out of different materials? Can you use one in place of the other? Let’s talk about it.
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The Ice Hockey Puck
The traditional ice hockey puck is a 6 ounce, 1 inch thick, 3-inch wide disk of black vulcanized rubber. This puck has been engineered and designed to slide over ice and used in the sport of ice hockey. Not much has changed in terms of design and innovation when it comes to the hockey puck since this version was created in the late 1800s.
The ice hockey puck in its current form has been seen moving at speeds upwards of 100 miles per hour when shots have been taken by the likes of Zdeno Chara. Certain companies have tried to make changes to the puck to make it easier to track on television but nothing has come of it.
The Roller Hockey Puck
The roller hockey puck is made in the same general shape and size as an ice hockey puck but being made out of plastic it weighs significantly less. The roller hockey puck also comes in a variety of colors with some of the most popular being red, orange, and green.
Roller hockey pucks were created as an alternative to the rubber pucks which do not move very well on surfaces such as synthetic plastic, asphalt, concrete, and hardwood where street and roller/inline hockey is normally played.
Many roller pucks have tiny ribs that are designed to help the puck slide in the same way as an ice hockey puck will on ice. While none are able to perfectly recreate this, they definitely simulate the feeling better than a ball.
Other Types of Pucks
In recent years there have been a few variations to traditional ice and roller hockey pucks created. These tend to fall into the training aid category for the most part with the exception being “the blue puck”.
The blue ice hockey puck is a lighter version of the ice hockey puck that normally weighs around 4 ounces. This puck is made for youth players under the age of 8 who may not be strong enough yet to handle the weight of a normal ice hockey puck.
Other versions of the Ice Hockey puck include
- Orange Puck – Weighted, heavier than a normal puck, used to strengthen hands and wrists
- Steel Puck – Even heavier than an orange puck, the same concept
- Green Biscuit – Off-ice puck and training aid designed for working on passing and shooting off-ice but not for roller hockey. The puck is made in a way to simulate on-ice performance and is not durable enough to be used for roller hockey.
- White Puck– Used in goalie training, puck blends in with ice making it harder to see for goalies
Does it Matter Which Puck I Choose?
The puck you choose is dependent on what you are looking to do but it is very important to pick the right puck for your activity. Using an ice hockey puck on concrete for street hockey will not work very well. Not only will this puck be bouncing all over the place and not simulate its performance on the ice but it can also be quite dangerous. Roller and street hockey are normally played with much less equipment and this harder, heavier puck can really hurt someone if it was to hit someone.
While using a roller hockey puck for ice hockey would probably not be as dangerous as the other way around it can still cause some problems. The roller hockey puck will not have the same stability on the ice as it did off-ice. You may find the puck bounces, is hard to keep on the ice, and may even break if used for ice hockey. Each puck is designed to be used in its own particular sport. Roller/inline hockey has taken off to the point where it may even be an Olympic sport one day.
Other Puck Questions
1. What is the difference in price between an ice hockey puck and a roller hockey puck? – The average ice hockey puck will cost you around $2 while the roller hockey puck will set you back upwards of $7.
2. Who makes the pucks for the NHL? – As of now the official manufacturer and supplier of ice hockey pucks for the NHL are Inglasco Inc.
3. Why not use a ball for roller hockey? – While a ball is still a fine option to get outside and play a game of street or roller hockey you will find that it cannot simulate playing hockey with a puck. I have not seen an example of a roller hockey league that plays with a ball rather than a puck.
4. Where can I get Ice Hockey and Roller Hockey pucks? – Both ice hockey and roller hockey pucks can be found in local sporting good stores, local hockey shops, as well as online.
5. Do other sports use pucks? – While no other sport uses a puck in the form of ice hockey or roller hockey puck, a form of a puck can be found in shuffleboard, box hockey, air hockey, and novuss- game found in countries such as Estonia and Latvia similar to billiards.
So What the Puck?
When it comes down to it the ice hockey puck is the original and the roller hockey puck is trying to come as close to it as it possibly can for its own sport. Manufacturers of roller hockey pucks are always trying to develop a product that can behave as ice hockey does on ice except for on the ground.
I look forward to seeing roller hockey pucks continue to develop and hopefully not being able to tell the difference between the movement of the two despite the weight. Will a plastic roller hockey puck ever be able to feel the same as the vulcanized rubber hockey puck? Guess we will find out.