Guide to Hockey Betting

Guide to Ice Hockey Betting

Ice hockey is played in many countries all over the world. As the name implies, the sport is played on an ice rink, and it is pretty similar to regular field hockey. As it stands, ice hockey is becoming increasingly popular among gamblers online. Therefore, there are quite several bookmakers already offering players the chance to bet on the sport.

With the increasing popularity, sportsbooks now offer different markets, bet options, and vast amounts of odds for all NHL matches. Interestingly, aside from NHL, you can place bets on other ice hockey competitions.

If you loved to join the band of incredible bettors thriving in this sport, we would recommend that you continue to read this guide. We have included different tips, strategies, betting sites, and much more. Let’s go!


Introduction to Ice Hockey

Before we properly get into the betting guide, we want to introduce you to Ice Hockey. Ice hockey also referred to as “hockey,” is a sport played on a specially made ice rink. In this sport, the objective of each team is to put the puck into the opponent’s net. The team that has the highest goals wins the match. In this game, there are different competitions and events. However, the National Hockey League (NHL) is the most popular.

There are 31 teams in the league, consisting of 24 from the United States and seven teams from Canada. Each team faces the other 30 teams to vie for the coveted Stanley Cup. We will describe the standard ice hockey teams, equipment, and ice rink in the following few sections.

The team

In a typical ice hockey team, there are six players. It includes a goaltender, two defensemen that create the defence line, three forwards with one in the centre, another on the left, and another on the right, making the attack line. Typically, teams consist of four different lines of two goaltenders, three pairs of defensemen, and three forwards. Five team members would skate up and down the ice rink, trying to move the puck and score against their opponents. In addition to that, each team has a goaltender that tries throughout the match to stop the puck from getting into the goal.

The equipment

As ice hockey is a complete physical sport and body checks are permitted, injuries are common. Therefore, protective equipment is required and enforced in every competitive match. This equipment includes a helmet, protective shoulder pads, elbow pads, mouthguards, and protective hand gloves. Also, there are the heavily padded shorts (which are referred to as hockey pants or a girdle), athletic cup (also referred to as a jock), shin guards/pads, skates for moving across the ice rink, and a neck protector (optional). On the other hand, goaltenders use different gear; chest/arm protector, a neck guard, catch glove, blocker, and leg pads.

The Ice rink

Since the beginning of the sport, ice hockey has evolved from just a simple game on an iced pond to a more complex game played on a well-structured rink. Today, a conventional ice rink for the sport must meet a set specification by the federation – the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The specification is 61 meters by 30.5 meters, which is 200 ft x 100 ft. In addition to that, there is a corner radius, which must be 8.5 meters, and that is 28 ft. Aside from that, the distance from the ends boards to the closest goal must be up to 4 meters (13 ft). The distance from the nearest blue line to the goal line is 57 ft (17.3 meters). Finally, the distance between both blue lines is also set at 17.3 meters (57 ft).

In the following section, you will get to understand the main rules of the ice hockey sport. Continue reading to learn more.

Main Rules

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A game of ice hockey spans for three periods, with each of them lasting 20 minutes. In the case of a draw during the playoffs, the match goes to overtime. Keep in mind that the clock runs only when the puck is in play. In the game, the teams will switch sides for the second and third periods and overtime.

Over overtime, the rules vary from one championship to another. In some cases, there is the sudden death round, where the first team to score in overtime wins. Additionally, if there is still no winner, then the tie is determined by sudden death penalty strokes. These strokes occur in alternate succession.

Below are some of the main rules you should be familiar with before you think about betting on ice hockey.

  1. The game begins at the centre circle with a face-off. The face-off is where the referee puts the puck between two players from the opposing teams, and they scrap to win ground for their respective teams. It is also used to resume play whenever there is a stoppage during play around the face-off zones.
  2. Players are allowed to use physical force to obtain the puck from their opponent. Body checking is also permitted; however, it is prohibited in the back or areas above shoulder height.
  3. Players who are caught committing a minor penalty are ordered to exit the rink for two minutes, and their team continues to play with five players for the entire 2 minutes duration. If the other team scores a goal during that time, the player can instantly get back on the rink.
  4. A minor penalty ranges from tripping an opponent using their stick, holding other players with either their hands or stick, hooking using their bar, or body-checking another player not in possession of the puck.
  5. In terms of significant penalties, the player is removed from the rink for as long as 5 minutes. Major disadvantages include fighting, injuring a player on the other team, or continually causing minor violations.

Main Competitions

Just like other sports, ice hockey has various competitions around the world. However, there are a few that are more major than others. Some of the main competitors in ice hockey that you should be familiar with include the National Hockey League (NHL), World Cup of Hockey, and the IIHF World Championship.

National Hockey League (NHL)

Since its inception in 1917, NHL has been the major ice hockey competition in the US and Canada. The match started in Canada with four teams before moving to the US in 1924. There are 31 teams, with 7 of them coming from Canada and the remaining 24 from the United States.

Notably, due to the 2020 pandemic, the league was temporarily divided into four regions. Now, we have the West, North, Central, and East Divisions. The North Division consists of seven Canadian teams, while the remaining divisions comprise eight groups each, making up the 24 US teams.

World Cup of Hockey

The World Cup of Hockey tournament is an international competition that succeeded the defunct Canada Cup. The competition happens between 3 to 5 years. Although the last world cup of hockey tournament was in 2016, the 2020 competition was cancelled due to the CBA agreement issue. As it stands, there is no assurance that the competition will hold anytime soon. The world cup is a competition among different countries. The current winner is Canada beating Team Europe at the Toronto ice rink.

The Canada Cup was created in 1976 to give ice hockey-playing nations to compete since there was no major cup competition for countries at the time. The match was mirrored towards soccer’s FIFA World Cup. As of 1996, the competition was replaced, and it expanded to 8 teams.

IIHF World Championship

The IIHF World Championships are the annual international men’s hockey competitions. The event first appeared at the 1920 Olympics. From 1920 to 1968, every Olympic ice hockey tournament was considered the World Championship for the year.

In 1930, twelve nations participated. However, the modern format now allows up to 16 teams to participate in the competition. Canada and the Soviet Union have been the two giants in the competition since its inception. However, Finland won the last tournament in 2019, and the 2020 event was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Where to bet on ice hockey?

Betting on ice hockey is quite straightforward as long as you are already familiar with sports betting. If not, you need first to find top licensed sportsbooks for Hockey bets where you can join. After that, you have to create an account at the sportsbook. For instance, you can join DraftKings or ComeOn! Once you are done with the registration, you have to credit your account using any available payment methods. You can as well claim the available welcome deposit bonuses available.

With money in your bankroll and an active bonus, you can head on to the ice hockey section to start placing bets on the various games available. Below is a list of some of the top bookmakers that you can join.

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How NHL betting works

NHL betting is most likely the most common aspect of betting on ice hockey. As one of the most rated and popular competitions in the sport, there are many areas you can decide to bet on. So, there is a huge chance that you will end up betting on NHL games. In that case, this section will give you insight into how NHL betting works.

Conferences and Divisions

When you want to bet, especially at the start of the season, you can bet on games from various conferences and divisions. Depending on the bookmaker site you join, you will find a separate section for the different divisions and conferences. In this case, you can decide to bet on the upcoming games for that day or week.

Schedule of play

You can also decide to place bets based on the current schedule of play. With this, you can know which team is set to have a series of tough matchups that can affect their performance. Therefore, you can take into consideration previous matches, including statistics from each of the games. Fortunately, many bookmakers have the full season schedule of play that you can easily access when making a prediction.

NHL Playoffs

After the regular NHL season, there is an elimination round known as the Playoffs. Here, the top 16 teams from each of the conferences and divisions face off for the Stanley cup. During the Playoff season, it is a bit harder to place bets because as the game progresses, the team becomes more closely matched. Betting on the NHL playoffs is no different from regular, although some bookmakers might add new markets and betting options. So, there is a chance that there will be more options to choose from.

Stanley Cup

Nowadays, the Stanley Cup is intertwined with the NHL. This means that the cup goes to the team that wins the NHL playoff. You can start betting once the playoff season starts or even during the regular season. Some bookies already provide betting options like who will win the Stanley Cup, which team would make it to the final, and others. The odds might increase or reduce as the season progresses, depending on how the team is performing.

Ice Hockey facts and history

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Just before the mid-1980s, it was believed that the sport came from English field hockey mixed with Indian lacrosse. Additionally, it was thought that the joke was spread throughout Canada by British soldiers in the mid-1800s. However, it was later debunked when research turned up to talk about a hockey-like game played during the early 1800s in Nova Scotia by Micmac Indians.

However, it is a consensus that the sport has spread in Canada through Irish and Scottish immigrants and the British Army. Some field hockey elements were adopted, and they include bully or face-off, shinning (now known as shinty or shinny). At first, the sport was played with a ball, and it wasn’t until 1860 before the first puck was used at Kingston Harbour, Ontario, Canada.

In 1885 the first ice hockey league was formed with four teams. Also, at that time, ice hockey is already competing with lacrosse as the most popular sport in Canada. In the 1892-93 season, Canadian Governor-General Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston, awarded the first Stanley cup. As intended by Lord Stanley, the cup granting format was for the challenge series to determine the Cup winner. At the start, the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association team won it for the first two years. From 1926 till date, the cup has gone to the winner of the NHL playoffs.


Ice hockey is an exciting sport to follow, especially if you are into extreme contact sports that allow players to get physical. When you already understand how the sport works and the rules, you can then decide to start playing NHL hockey bets. What you need is to find a licensed and recognized online hockey betting site in your state, and you are good to go. Without a doubt, ice hockey betting is interesting, and you have the chance to win a cool payout!


How long is an ice hockey match?

A standard game of ice hockey consists of three periods, which lasts 20 minutes each. But note that some games can run into overtime in the case of a draw.

How do you win a hockey bet?

You win when you place the correct bet. For instance, if you bet on the Boston Bruins to beat the Montreal Canadiens, and Boston has the highest number of goals, you win that particular hockey bet.

Does overtime count in ice hockey betting?

In this case, it depends on the kind of bet you place. You can decide to include overtime or simply regular playing time.

How often do hockey favourites win?

According to statistics, clear favourites win 80% of the time they face a lesser opponent.

Elica Martinova
Betting expert
Certified Betting Expert
Elica Martinova
Ellie is in charge of writing, editing, and publishing reviews in Bulgarian, English, and German. She has a long track record as a journalist and is passionate about writing. Also, she is quite experienced when it comes to bookmakers as well.