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referee calling a penalty (right arm raised) and pointing at the offender with his left hand.

A minor penalty is the least severe type of penalty.[1] A minor penalty is two minutes in length. The offending player is sent to the penalty box and in most cases, his team will play shorthanded. If the offending player is the goaltender or a team is given a "bench minor" penalty (assessed against the team, rather than an individual player), then any skater who was on the ice at the time of the infraction may serve the penalty.[2] In rare cases, when the offending player suffers an injury on the same play, whoever is on the ice at the time of the penalty may also serve the penalty, as was the case of Game 2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals' series during the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, when Phil Kessel served a penalty in place of Tom Kühnhackl.[3]

A team with a numerical advantage in players will go on a power play. If they score a goal during this time, the penalty will end and the offending player may return to the ice.[4] In hockey's formative years, teams were shorthanded for the entire length of a minor penalty. The NHL changed this rule following the 1955–56 season where the Montreal Canadiens frequently scored multiple goals on one power play. Most famous was a game on November 5, 1955, when Jean Béliveau scored three goals in 44 seconds, all on the same power play, in a 4–2 victory over the Boston Bruins.[5]

Coincidental (or "matching") minor penalties occur when an equal number of players from each team are given a minor penalty at the same time. The permission of a substitute player depends on the league and the situation at the time of the infractions. In some leagues, such as the NHL, the teams will play four-on-four for the duration of the penalties if they occurred when both teams were at even strength. However, if there is already a manpower differential, then both teams are allowed to make substitutions while the penalized players will remain in the penalty box until the first stoppage in play after their penalty expires.[6] In other competitions, such as IIHF events, coincidental penalties do not affec}}t manpower in any situation.[7] Coincidental minor penalties are not ended when a goal is scored by either team.

In some cases, a referee can impose a double or triple minor. The infraction is counted as two or three separate minor penalties. If a team scores a power play goal during such a penalty, only the current block of two minutes being counted down is cancelled; the penalty clock is then reset to the next lowest interval of two minutes (ex. a goal with a double-minor penalty clock at 3:45 is reset to 2:00). Expiration rules of double- or triple-minor penalties due to goals being scored are identical to that of regular minor penalties being served back-to-back.[8]


  1., "Ice Hockey Penalties". p. 29.
  2. Rule 501 – Minor Penalty, IIHF, 2010, pp. 57–59
  4. Rule 16 – Minor Penalties, NHL, 2011, p. 26
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Duplacey56
  6. Rule 19 – Coincidental Minor Penalties, NHL, 2011, p. 28
  7. Rule 512 – Coincidental Penalties, IIHF, 2010, p. 63
  8. Rule 18 – Double Minor Penalties, NHL, 2011, p. 27
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