Why Do They Freeze Hockey Pucks?

Posted on April 17, 2024 by Dan Kent
hockey puck frozen

Ever heard that they freeze hockey pucks before a hockey game? Is it true, and why do they need to when they are on ice during the game?

Are ice hockey pucks frozen before a game?

Yes, they freeze the pucks in all AHL and NHL games before the game. They do this to make the puck glide smoother and faster and reduce bouncing.

Generally, it's only these top-tier leagues where the pucks are frozen beforehand. In cases where the pros are playing, every little detail goes into making the game run smoothly.

So while your regular beer league and country tournaments won't be freezing pucks – the NHL's pucks are frozen.

Why do they chill pucks?

Hockey pucks are frozen to make them more solid and to reduce bouncing. Pucks are made from vulcanized rubber; the warmer they are, the more they'll bounce around the rink when whacked with a stick.

Freezing the pucks reduces the rubber's tendency to bounce, making the puck's movement more of a glide across the ice, not a flipping, bouncing or rolling motion.

When a puck moves unpredictably during a game, it is much more challenging for players to control it, make an accurate pass or shoot on the net properly.

Pro players can deal with rolling pucks, but it makes their plays riskier. Freezing the puck beforehand makes it less likely to move unpredictably in a game.

Rubber is bouncy

Rubber is one of the most elastic materials on earth. Rubber rebounds with approximately 50% of its original velocity.

And while pucks are made from vulcanized rubber, it involves using sulphur to make it harden, and last much longer, they are still bouncy. (coincidentally, vulcanizing rubber makes the material black – the perfect color for it to contrast against the white of the ice).

Once it was discovered that freezing rubber hardens it and reduces its elasticity, it became common to freeze pucks before official games.

Are NHL hockey pucks kept frozen?

Traditionally at the start of the season, every hockey team will buy 1,500 pucks from inGlasCo – the sole manufacturer of official pucks for the top league.

They'll keep these pucks in the freezer until game time, with some teams reportedly using portable ice cream freezers to do this job. (NHL rules state that the home team is responsible for keeping the game pucks frozen).

How are hockey pucks prepared before a game?

At the start of each period, they'll bring over a bucket of 15 pucks from the freezer of the home team to the penalty box cooler, which officials then watch over. So that's 15 pucks x 3 periods = 45 pucks a game.

They won't use all these pucks, but they usually replace the puck with a new frozen one for each face-off or every two minutes. That job is up to the linesman to replace the puck with a freshly frozen one.

The puck's temperature is between 14-20 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 / -6°C) before being put into play.

How often do they change pucks in an NHL game 

They'll use up to 25-30 pucks during an average game. During play, pucks fly over the plexiglass or are given to fans. The linesman would acquire a new regulation puck between whistles in this situation.

If a puck is faulty or damaged, they will get rid of it and put a new puck into play.

Does the temperature of a hockey puck affect how far it will travel?

Both pucks, if they are standard ice hockey pucks, will travel the same distance across the ice, but the warmer puck will bounce further and can therefore cover more of the ice with the same force.

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, Stocktrades.ca.

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