The rink is the icy surface on which a hockey game is played. It is specifically designed for the game, of a rectangular shape with rounded corners and surrounded by a one metre (40 inches) wall called the boards.
There are two standard rink dimensions in use worldwide. One is used in North America, while the other is used everywhere else.
In North AmericaEdit
North American rinks usually follow the National Hockey League's standard specifications, them being 200 ft × 85 ft (61 m × 26 m) with a corner radius of 28 ft (8.5 m). The distance from the end boards to the nearest goal line is 11 ft (3.4 m). The distance from each goal line to the nearest blue line is 64 ft (19.3 m). The distance between the two blue lines is 50 ft (15.0 m).
The IIHF specificationsEdit
Elsewhere, the rink dimensions comply with the International Ice Hockey Federation's specifications: 61 m × 30 m (200 ft × 98.5 ft) with a corner radius of 4.2 m (14 ft). The distance from the end boards to the nearest goal line is 4 m (13 ft). The distance from each goal line to the nearest blue line is 17⅔ m (58 ft). The distance between the two blue lines is also 17⅔ m (58 ft). The wider surface of the IIHF allows a more open play.
Five lines are drawn on the ice. Those lines are drawn from one board to the other on the width and are used to regulate play and divide the ice into several zones.
The main line is the center line, typically referred to as the red line due to its colour. It splits the ice surface in two equal parts and is used to judge icing calls. The center line is a think one, and in the NHL, it contains alternate rectangular patterns to help readily distinguish it from both blue lines, two lines that mark the boundaries of each team's own zone. They are used to determine offsides.
Finally, near both ends of the ice are two thin red lines, the goal lines. Those lines are used to determine the validity of a goal.
A hockey rink bears nine faceoff spots. Those spots are located as follows: one at the very center of the ice, on the center line, two at each end of the neutral zone and two in each end zone. Most faceoffs are taken at those spots. Except for the spots in neutral territory, all of the spots are surrounded by a circle, the faceoff circles. Those circles are usually red (except the center ice one, which might be blue). The circles at the end of each zone bear hash marks, used to tell the players where they can legally place themselves for the faceoff.
Goal posts, nets, crease and trapezoidsEdit
At the end of each zone, there is a goal, a metal frame and a cloth net in which the players must shoot the puck to score goals. The goal is six feet wide and four tall; the two vertical metal bars are named the goal posts; the horizontal line connecting both is the crossbar. The back of the goal is covered by a net used to collect the pucks shot into the goal. Flexible pegs are used to anchor the goal in the ice; their flexibility ensures that the goal freely moves should a player crash in it in the course of action.
Painted on the ice in front of the net is what is called the goal crease, a blue half-circle (truncated by straight lines extending 1 ft (30.5 cm) each sides of the posts). This area is reserved to the goaltender and, in many leagues, skaters are forbidden to enter the crease.
Unlike most other sports, players can freely skate and play behind the goals. So can the goaltender; often they will go behind their net to handle loose pucks and start new plays for his team. The American Hockey League instated an experimental rule for the first seven weeks of the 2004-05 AHL season by drawing two additional thin red lines behind the goal to the end boards to form a trapezoid - this shape gave it's name to the newly created zone. The rule's purpose was to allow a more fluid play by forbidding the goaltenders to handle the puck behind his net outside of this trapezoid. It also aimed at prolonging attacks, since this limitation of the goaltender's freedom also hindered his ability to clear the puck. Should a goalie nevertheless handle the puck outside of the trapezoid (and of course, outside of his crease), it immediately triggers a 2 minute penalty for delay of game. The ruled proved so successful that the league adopted it for the remainder of the season and the ones thereafter; the NHL and ECHL adopted it the following season.