Are NHL / Hockey Rinks The Same Size?

by Simon | Updated On: February 8th, 2020
hockey rink

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Have you ever wondered if every hockey rink is the same size? There are professional hockey arenas, local recreational rinks, Olympic-sized ice rinks, and rinks all over the world. Are they all the same size? Do they differ in size? What’s the difference between NHL and international ice regulations? We’ll break down all the numbers on hockey rink sizes here.

All NHL teams use ice that is 85 x 200 feet while in lower tier leagues hockey rinks vary in size depending on the rinks available. Olympic and international leagues use a noticeably wider ice surface at 100 x 200 feet. Local arenas used for recreational hockey are often a good deal smaller than professional hockey arenas, though some are the size of NHL or Olympic rinks.

What’s The Size Of An NHL Rink?

Although rink sizes vary across professional, international, and recreational arenas, the leagues themselves are required to be consistent with rink sizes.

The NHL uses a standard-size ice surface of 85 x 200 feet. The radius of the corners is 28 feet.

All NHL teams are required to use ice that is this size. While every NHL rink is the same size, players say that some arenas have boards and lighting systems that make games at some arenas different from others.

Ranking NHL Arena Sizes 2019-20

In North America, the NHL-sized ice rink is viewed as regulation size.

Here is a list of all NHL rinks sorted by capacity the largest of which is currently the Montreal Bell Center -- which seats 21,273 -- and is home to the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.

How Big Is Olympic-sized Ice?

Olympic or international arenas use ice that is similar in length to but wider than NHL rinks.

USA v Canada - Women's Ice Hockey Gold Medal Match - PyeongChang 2018 | Throwback Thursday

Olympic ice checks in at 100 x 200 feet, making it 15 feet wider than the ice the NHL uses. This gives players more space and changes the dynamic of the game.

This ice size, used in European arenas and during the Olympics, is believed to make the game faster. This is because there is more room across the ice for players to skate and pick up speed, pass, and avoid body checks.

As a result, European hockey is sometimes described as more focused on speed, skills, and puck movement than North American hockey, which emphasizes a physical game, with heavy hits and a more pronounce fighting culture.

With slightly less ice for NHL hockey players, body contact is more likely and players with the puck are pressured more quickly.

International ice hockey competitions could, according to IIHF president Rene Fasel, be soon switching to NHL-sized rinks.

The organization is looking at using NHL-sized ice for the world championships in Finland and the Beijing Olympics, both in 2022.

International hockey competitions may move to NHL-sized ice, Source.

Recreational Rink Sizes?

Arenas that are used for recreational hockey vary in size around the world.

Most recreational arenas are smaller than the 85 or 100 x 200 feet rinks of the NHL and Olympics. Many are both thinner and shorter than these sizes, especially at older local arenas.

Often, part of the reason for the smaller arenas is that their primary users are children. Young hockey players do not need the significantly larger sizes of ice that professional hockey uses.

For reference, you will sometimes see small children skate on the NHL ice during the intermission of a game. It takes them a very long time to cover distance across the ice surface.

But at the same time, some recreational arenas are noted to use an NHL regulation-size or Olympic-size ice surface. Recreational leagues interested in the most competitive game can seek out these arenas for their games.

outdoor rink

Though all hockey rinks retain the general shape of a rectangle with rounded corners, there are different types and sizes of ice rinks. NHL size and Olympic size are standardly measured rinks that differ by a width of 15 feet.

Recreational arenas do vary and are usually smaller than the sizes of professional rinks. But even some recreational rinks do match the size of NHL and Olympic ice.

Ice time is previous commodity for hockey players, so any size rink is better than nothing. From pond hockey to street hockey players and leagues are resourceful.

For pro leagues, rinks must be a specific size, whereas for recreational or beer league hockey -- any reasonable size is good for a game to get going.

Regulation hockey nets are 6′ x 4′ (foot) and is the standard size across all levels of hockey from minors to the Olympics.

Simon, the founder of Brave Stick Hockey, started playing hockey in 2003. He launched this website in 2018 to help new hockey players and fans learn more about the game and have more fun while learning.