What is Boarding in Hockey?

Ice hockey is a contact sport, so occasionally, players will hit each other.

But from time to time, some players let their emotions get the best of them and will violently hit the opposing players. 

These heavy hits can sometimes lead to serious injuries and in severe circumstances even end the career of the player on the receiving end.

This has led the NHL to continuously crackdown on heavy hits and often imposing fines and suspensions on offenders.

One of the most common causes of violent hits in hockey is from boarding and in today’s guide, we are looking at boarding in ice hockey: what it means, how it is called, and the consequences.

Let’s dive in:

What is Boarding In Ice Hockey:

Also known as Rule 603 in the USA hockey rule book. Boarding in ice hockey is when a player excessively shoves, crashes, or hits a player of the opposition into the boards of the hockey rinks.

Boarding can occur in various forms:

  • When a player hits an opposing player when he/she is a vulnerable opposition. In ice hockey, there are clean and illegal hits.

A clean hit is when a player hits his/her opponent below the neck, above the waist, and not from the back. 

A player is said to be in a vulnerable/defenseless position if he/she has his back turned to the checking player. 

If the opposing player is deemed to have put him/herself in a defenseless position, then boarding won’t be called

  • Crashing the opposition player into the board without any desire to win the puck
  • Driving an opposing player dangerously into the boards to intimidate or punish the player

The checking player must make sure a defenseless opposing player does not come into danger as a result of his/her actions.

How Boarding Is Called In Ice Hockey

When a referee notices a boarding foul, he makes a closed fist with one hand and moves it till it makes contact with the palm of the other hand.

Example of Boarding In Ice Hockey

The clip shown above is a boarding foul by Martin Hanzal of the Phoenix Coyotes on Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings. 

Fortunately, Brown did not sustain any injuries but it let to the suspension of Hanzal for one game.

Consequences Of Boarding

This is a very dangerous offense in ice hockey and the offense varies depending on the severity of the offense.

According to guidelines of the USA Hockey (Rule 603), these are the consequences of boarding:

When a referee deems a player to have committed a boarding foul against an opponent, he issues a minor or major penalty in addition to a game misconduct

  • When two players are trying to go through a small opening and one of them crashes into the board, this is not referred to as boarding but instead as rolling
  • When a player injures his/her opponent because of boarding, he/she gets a major penalty with a game misconduct
  • When a player deliberately tries to injure or injures his opponent from boarding, he/she gets a match penalty

While in college ice hockey, whether the boarding results in an injury or not, a major penalty is awarded

Final Words

We hope this guide has been able to teach you a lot about boarding in hockey.

Let us know what you think in the comment section and also drop any questions you may have. We will do our best to reply.

Sources / Further Reading




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