Close your eyes and you can almost hear a fan at a hockey game yelling: “He’s in the crease! He was in the crease!” He would be talking about that blue half-circle in front of the net, the area where the goaltender hangs out. And his excitement would arise from the fact that referees can wave off a goal scored when an opposing player is in the crease. So why not just be like basketball and call it “the paint”? Rumor has it that players used to make physical creases in the ice—with their skates or other objects—to mark the playing area before painted lines were introduced.
The crease is designed to allow the goalie to perform his/her duties without interference. In most leagues, an attacking player is not allowed to be in the crease before the puck. Goals can be disallowed if a referee determines an attacking player interfered with the goaltender’s ability to play the puck.
What else is there to know? You can learn all about the crease, including details such as the width of the red line outlining the blue crease (2 inches) on pages 4–5 of the 2007–09 Official Rules of Ice Hockey booklet available at www.usahockey.com (pdf).
See it in action: A goal is disallowed when a Colorado Avalanche player interferes with the goalie while in the crease.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Kristin Carlson, member of Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota, for this article.