What is Interference in Hockey?

As a hockey player and fan alike, it is very important to familiarize yourself with the rules of the game. A fundamental part of understanding the game of hockey is learning about the different kinds of penalties that can be called against players and teams.

One of the most frequently-called penalties is interference. This is essentially a penalty that is called when a player hits or impedes the progress of their opponent when that opponent doesn’t have the puck.

However, the actual penalty and the rules surrounding it are a lot more detailed than that. Without any further ado, let’s take a closer look at the interference penalty, how it can be caused, the penalty for it, and more.

What is Interference in Hockey?

As briefly mentioned, interference is when a player uses their body to halt the progress of an opponent who isn’t currently in possession of the puck. In most cases, interference is called when the offending player makes no effort to play the puck or maintain their skating lane.

If you, as a player, deliberately block a player to keep them out of play, without a need, don’t be surprised when you get called for interference.

Interference can happen because of a late hit on a previous puck-carrier, or if someone away from the play entirely is hit or impeded. Also, in some cases, interference is called when a player tries to stop their opponent from picking up a stick that they have dropped during play.

Different Ways Interference Can Be Caused

When most people think of interference, they visualize a player who is off the puck being hit by an opponent. However, there are actually a variety of different situations that can lead to an interference penalty being caused.

A player could be called for playing the body and not the puck during a face-off, knocking someone’s stick out of their hands, stopping them from picking up dropped equipment, and even throwing objects in front of an opponent.

Also, playing a “pick” in the path of an opponent without first establishing proper body position can lead to the penalty being called. Even stopping another opponent from being able to apply pressure on one of your teammates is often enough to warrant the call from the ref.

What is the Penalty for Interference?

So how much time can you expect to spend in the penalty box if you get called for interference? In most cases, interference will only be a two-minute minor penalty called on the offending player. However, there are times when a harsher penalty is given.

If interference is overly violent, deemed incredibly unnecessary, or leads to an injury, a major penalty or game misconduct penalty will often be called. This will be a five-minute penalty at least and could lead to the player being removed from the game, as well.

Also, if a player on the bench grabs or otherwise impedes a player on the ice, a minor bench penalty will often be called by the ref. Fines can indeed also be given to players as a result of interference, but that is up to the league to decide on a case-by-case basis.

Goalie Interference

While interference is generally called for contact between forwards and/or defenders, goaltender interference can indeed happen and is a penalty. A goalie interference call will be made when a player hits or makes contact with a goalie. 

Specifically, when this contact restricts the ability of the goalie to move and make a play on the puck. Whether on purpose or accidental, goalie interference will still be called.

Often, video replays are used to judge whether a play was actually goalie interference or not, as it can be difficult to see and judge in real-time. In most cases (like with standard interference) a minor penalty will be given if a player interferes with a goalie.

I hope that this guide has helped you learn a little more about interference in hockey and how it works. Be sure to leave me a comment if you feel I have left something out, or if you have a question for me.

About Kale
Being from Canada, hockey is essentially a way of life. I instantly fell in love with the game since I was being put on skates. From playing as a child (and the occasional street hockey game with friends today) to being a fan for over 20 years, I’m here to share my knowledge and passion for hockey.

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