Before beginning any project, such as a hockey rink, the natural first step is to do a little research to ensure it is designed and built to the proper specifications. When it comes to hockey rinks, however, it may surprise you to know that there are no hard-set standards. When looking at hockey rinks that are built to NHL Standards, or Alberta Hockey Standards, what is available are some recommendations used to guide the design of ice hockey rinks. We had some questions about some minimum and maximum sizing requirements that would remain acceptable to Hockey Alberta sanctioned tournaments and were told that "the IIHF and Hockey Canada rule books don't provide a lot of guidance" about what makes a rink acceptable to play on. What follows below are the questions submitted with the answers provided straight from Hockey Alberta.
What is the minimum width of an indoor hockey rink allowed before a rink will be excluded from any Hockey Alberta sanctioned tournaments?
There is no defined minimum width. The Hockey Canada playing rules recommend a rink to be between 85’ and 100’ wide; however, we do have rinks that are slightly less than the 85’ and in those situations we ask that the markings be shifted proportionately to ensure adequate space.
What is the minimum length of an indoor hockey rink allowed before a rink will be excluded from any Hockey Alberta sanctioned tournaments?
There is no defined minimum length. The Hockey Canada playing rules recommend a rink to be 200’ long; however, we do have rinks that are slightly less than that and in those situations we ask that the markings be shifted proportionately to ensure adequate space.
What if a rink is shorter, say 180’? Generally, we try to move the lines to keep the offensive zones to full size and take the balance from the neutral zone, is this the correct approach?
For rinks 185’ to 200’ or more in length, it is recommended that the end zones be the standard size (64’ in length); however, for shorter rinks, lines should be adjusted proportionately (three equal sized areas). Keeping the offensive zones the full size on a rink that is too short is not good, because it can significantly reduce the size of the neutral zone which negatively impacts play and the way the rules can be called.
Is there ever an acceptable point to remove from both the neutral and offensive zones?
As stated above, making adjustments to keep the ice proportionate to the standard dimensions is the best scenario.
Is there a maximum tolerance for game lines to be out of standard regulations before tournament status will be denied?
No, but keeping the surface as proportionate to the standard dimensions as possible is the best scenario.
What is the minimum acceptable glass height on the sides (long straights) of a rink for it to qualify Hockey Alberta sanctioned for tournaments?
There is no defined height, but it is recommended, for safety purposes, to have glass that is a minimum of 5’ high above the boards along the sides of the rink.
What is the minimum acceptable glass height on the ends and radii of a rink for it to qualify for Hockey Alberta sanctioned tournaments?
There is no defined height, but it is recommended, for safety purposes, to have glass that is a minimum of 8’ high above the boards along the ends of the rink (from the blue line in towards the end of the rink).
Is there at any level of play a minimum level of “flex” for board impact? If so, what are the specifications?
There is no defined level of ‘flex’; however, the newer, more flexible systems are the safest.
It is surprising that after the game of hockey has come so far that there are more recommendations and best practices than set standards for what makes a rink qualify for professional play. What are your thoughts on this? Do you believe there should be more set regulations and standards for Hockey rinks? What do you think some of those regulations and standards should be?
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