Can A Hockey Goalie Be Checked?



A lot of people wonder whether a hockey goalie can be checked. The answer is no. In fact, the rules of ice hockey expressly forbid the checking of a goalie. You are not allowed to do anything to a goalie that could impede them from protecting the goal. The referees can be pretty harsh about enforcing this rule too, particularly in amateur ice hockey.

Checking a hockey goalkeeper is not necessarily dangerous. After all, hockey goalies tend to be packing a bit more padding than your average player. The reason hockey goalies cannot be checked is that their job is to protect the goal. By checking them they cannot stop the puck. This means goal after goal can be scored, simply by taking the goalie ‘out of action’. It wouldn’t make for a very fun game.

Anybody that checks the goalie will be subject to penalties.

Are the hockey goalies the only players that cannot be checked?

Yes, The hockey goalies are the only people on the ice that cannot be checked. This means nobody checking, stick checking, or anything like that. The play does not necessarily need to be dangerous, it simply must be preventing the goalkeeper from protecting their goal properly. 

Can a hockey goalie be checked if he is not near the net?

A hockey goalie cannot be deliberately checked for any reason. Even if the goalie leaves his area, there is absolutely no checking them. No exceptions.

A lot of people seem to believe that goalies are fair game the second they leave the goal area, but they are not. Of course, the player will be allowed to ‘stick check’ the goalkeeper. If that wasn’t allowed, there would be nothing to stop the goalkeeper from taking the ball all the way to the opponent’s net.

However, you can, under no circumstances, check the goalie in the same way you would check a player. No matter where that goalie is standing, the second your body comes into contact, a penalty is given to the offending player.

That being said, referees may grant an exception to this rule if the goalie is trying to hold the puck close to the boards. In those sorts of situations, there may be a small amount of light body checking. It isn’t deliberate, it is simply the only way that the player can get a hold of the puck.

Obviously, if the player ends up forcing the goalie against the wall, then that is going to cause an issue. If the nudge is enough to knock the goalie over, then this is also going to be a problem. In order to be granted an exception, it must be the lightest of light touches.

There will be a few goalies that will try to goad the other players to attempt to check them properly, but you should never give into that sort of play. If you are in doubt about what you can do with the goalkeeper, then it is probably best to do nothing. 

What is the punishment for hitting a hockey goalie?

Checking a hockey goalie will almost always result in a 2-minute minor penalty

If ‘checking’ the goalie seems to demonstrate an intent to cause serious injury or even a minor injury, then there is a strong chance that the offending player may receive a match penalty. This will result in permanent ejection from the game.

Are there exceptions for accidents?

It depends; invariably, a player will come into contact with a goalie on occasion. Technically, this is not allowed under any circumstances. However, if the contact was purely incidental and there was no clear intention from the player to ‘check’ the goalie, then the referee is unlikely to call a penalty, even though they can do if they wish.

However, the referee needs to maintain consistency in his decision making throughout the game.

There is an exception to this rule. If a goal is scored in professional games, there may be a video review. If contact with the goalie occurs, accidental or not, and it is judged to have impeded the goalie from being able to stop the puck from going in, then the goal will be disallowed.

In amateur games, video reviews will not be a luxury. This means that referees will often make decisions ‘on the fly’. As a result, you may find more goals disallowed in amateur ice hockey than you would in a professional game. This is because the referee will only ever award the goal if they can be 100% certain there was no contact that impeded the save.

Generally speaking, it is the role of the outfield player to be avoiding the goalkeeper. If there is any contact between the player and the goalkeeper, it will always be the player’s fault in the rulebook. This is why the goalie will often invite checking, they know that it is probably not going to be their fault if something happens, and it can lead to a small reset in play, as a result. 

Why is it important not to allow the hockey goalie to be hit?

The sole job of the goalkeeper is to ensure that the puck does not go into the goal. In fact, the quality of a goalie will mean the difference between a win and a loss in the game of hockey.

If a player ‘checks’ a goalie, then that goalkeeper can no longer perform their main job i.e. stopping the puck from going into the net.

If ice hockey didn’t have the ‘no checking the goalie’ rule in place, the players could just surround the goalkeeper each time is close to the goal. This would result in goal after goal. It would also encourage rather violent behavior towards the goalkeeper.

How do you know when it is appropriate to go for the puck in the hockey crease?

Obviously, if you want to score a goal, it is likely that you will need to take a shot from within the crease at some point. However, a lot of people are wary about whether they are allowed to do that. They feel as if they take a shot, they are going to receive a penalty. After all, the chances of coming into contact with the goalkeeper are high.

Generally speaking, if you are going for the puck to take a shot, there is not going to be any sort of issue. You just need to be sure that you are not blocking or hindering the goalie in any way.

If your sticks end up touching because you are both going for the puck, then that is going to be fine most of the time. The only time it will pose an issue is if you are in the crease and getting in the goalie’s way.

If you are in doubt as to whether you can go for the puck or not, then do not go for it. If you are in doubt as to whether you can hit the puck without touching the goalie, then do not go for it. Trust us, your team would prefer that you didn’t take the shot than end up being a teammate down for 2-minutes.

Now, we do want to point out at this stage that you likely will make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. The game of hockey is pretty fast-paced. Do not fret if you receive a penalty every so often. It happens to even the best ice hockey players in the world. However, if it seems to be happening multiple times per game, then it is likely that you are the problem. It is likely that you are not aware of your surroundings, or you are simply trying to treat the goalie like any other normal player. If you can’t quite work out where you are going wrong, then it is important that you talk to your coach.

Will Goalkeepers fake contact?

Sadly, yes. It is much more common than you may think. Due to the penalties that come with even the smallest amount of contact with a goalie in ice hockey, some have been known to ‘fake’ contact. This has been especially common in the NHL where several goalkeepers have been fined for this.

If the referee catches this happening, then the penalties may be severe. What happens will be dependent on a case by case basis.

Due to this problem, it is important that the player try to refrain from making contact with a goalie as much as they can. 


If you are a player, do not check the opposing hockey goalies. It will lead to a short, swift rest in the penalty box for you. This means that your team is going to be a player down. While you can go for the puck in the crease, you should only be going for the puck. The second it looks as if you were trying to check the goalie is the second the referee is not going to be happy.

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