If you have enjoyed watching hockey throughout your life, then why not take it to a whole different level by placing a few wagers on the sport?
It doesn’t matter if you support a team from any league or you are completely new to ice hockey; there are plenty of betting opportunities you can exploit. This way, you can enhance your entire experience and add a bit of thrill whenever you watch any game.
You might have heard of different betting types for ice hockey, but do you actually know how all of them work? You cannot just dive straight into the action unprepared, so here we will give you a general guideline you can follow if you are a newbie in the ice hockey betting business.
Brief History of Ice Hockey
Let’s start with the basics here and inform you a bit about the origins of ice hockey. This is a sport that has a very long history, and we can trace its roots to “stick-and-ball” games played in the UK back in the 17th century.
There are reports of matches being played in Scotland and the UK during that period, but the debate still rages over who actually invented ice hockey.
So, another report says that students in Canada back in the 1800s adapted hurling, which is an Irish field game, into a game that is played on ice. UK immigrants and the British Army in Canada during that time are known to have played the sport not long after.
Shortly after that, Canadian rules came into place, with the number of players reduced and the rubber pucks replaced by balls.
The origins of professional ice hockey date back to the International Ice Hockey Federation, which organized the first game in Montreal in 1875.
Furthermore, the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada was introduced in 1886, but it only lasted 12 seasons. At the turn of the century, the Canadian Amateur Hockey League took its place.
So, as we know it, professional ice hockey developed around 1904, when the International Professional Hockey League in Michigan was formed, and the creation of the National Hockey Association followed shortly after.
Finally, even though there were some attendance and field problems during the 20th century, ice hockey managed to climb to the top of sports’ popularity lists. Its evolution was steady, and now, we get to enjoy a well-developed sport adored by many.
Ice Hockey Rules and Gameplay
If you haven’t watched ice hockey, then you might think that this is a very chaotic game. However, the reality is far from it—there are strict rules in place to keep the game fair and safe.
Unlike soccer, some ice hockey rules don’t result in penalties, but they stop the match and require a faceoff for the game to continue.
The first example is when a player is ruled offside. This happens when a player crosses the blue line from the neutral zone into the opposition’s zone before the puck gets to the opposition’s zone.
Another example is “icing”, which occurs when a player shoots the puck and it crosses the center line and the goal line of the opponent. The referee will wave off icing if it is touched by a player.
Minor Penalties in Ice Hockey
Most hockey penalties are minor, and they result in a two-minute trip to the penalty box. The most common minor penalties include:
- High sticking – if a player makes contact with the opposition above the shoulder with the stick
- Holding – holding a player
- Hooking – using the blade of the stick to stop an opponent
- Cross-checking – a hit with the stick
- Roughing – striking an opposition player where the referees decide that it is not severe enough for a stricter penalty
- Tripping – tripping an opponent
Major Penalties in Ice Hockey
Major penalties in ice hockey come with five minutes into the penalty box, and the most common ones are:
- Boarding – pushing or tripping an opponent to the boards
- Spearing – hitting the opponent with the blade of the stick
- Slashing – hitting the opponent with the stick
- Charging – hitting the player to gain speed
- Check from behind – as the name suggests, pushing the opponent from behind to gain an advantage
- Check to the head – any contact above the shoulder
- Fighting – dropping the gloves and punching another player
Moreover, there are also misconduct penalties that can result in 10 minutes in the penalty box for continuing a fight and throwing equipment on the ice, among the rest.
Difference Between Ice Hockey and Field Hockey
As you could imagine, there are several differences between ice and field hockey, which we can group into several categories. Let’s take a closer look so you know what we talk about.
Ice hockey players use ice skates, but field hockey players wear cleats with studs. Of course, both sports require players to be very strong and quick with their feet. It doesn’t matter if you skate or run; you need to be rapid and in total control of your movement.
Up next, ice hockey players use a vulcanized rubber hockey puck, which is smooth and glides across the ice field. On the other hand, field hockey players use a ball made of PVC material.
Lastly, we have something similar to both sports—the hockey sticks. Ice hockey sticks are made of wooden materials, while field hockey sticks are made of composite materials.
Of course, the design also differs, meaning that players have a different way of holding them. For instance, field hockey players hold the stick with their left hand on top of it, while ice hockey players grasp sticks based on their dominant hand.
Ice hockey and field hockey games last 60 minutes each, but the former have three 20-minute periods, while the latter have four 15-minute quarters.
Moving on, each team has six players on the ice at a time in ice hockey—five skaters and the goalie. However, in field hockey, each team consists of 11 players—10 in the field and a goalie.
Up next, we’ve already mentioned the minor and major penalties in ice hockey, but what about the fouls in field hockey? Some of them include:
- Advancing – where a player uses his body to push the ball
- Obstruction – where a player blocks the opponent moving towards the ball with their body or stick
- Sticks – where a player dangerously lifts the stick and aims it towards an opponent
- Backstick – if a player hits the ball with the back of the stick
- Undercutting – if a player lifts the ball in the air threateningly
In field hockey, there are various penalties a team can get for the above-mentioned fouls: a free hit, a penalty corner, and a penalty stroke.
Ice Hockey in North America & Around the World
Ice hockey is a sport that has a global presence, and more than one country is active in the sport. As you could imagine, ice hockey is the most popular sport in Canada, where it is also the national winter sport.
Apart from Canada, ice hockey is very popular in the US and several European countries, such as Sweden, Finland, and Czechia. There are over one million registered players who play ice hockey in various leagues throughout the world.
Another interesting fact is that the US has around 400,000 registered players in the International Ice Hockey Federation, which is the most of any nation in the world.
Ice Hockey Odds
Before you think about wagering on an ice hockey event, you need to know exactly how the odds work. Thankfully, ice hockey odds are very simple to read, so even if you are completely new to the sport, you won’t have a problem understanding them.
As is the case with other sports in the world, the favorite in ice hockey always has a minus sign in front, and the underdog has a plus sign.
There are also decimal odds, which show the odds in decimal format. The favorites get smaller odds, and the opposite goes for the underdogs.
Popular Ice Hockey Betting Markets
Now, we can get into the fun part of ice hockey—the betting markets. We know that you would ideally want to save some time on research on this topic, so below you can find our list of the most popular ice hockey betting types. They are more than enough to get you started in the sport.
We begin with the simplest type of them, called “moneyline”. It means that you simply need to bet on who will win the game, and it is understandably the most popular option among punters.
As mentioned above, the favorites in the game will have a plus sign, while the underdogs will have a minus sign. Betting on the underdogs can get you some nice returns if the team manages to cause an upset. However, you need good analytical skills and luck to guess such an outcome correctly.
Up next, we have a puck line bet, which is a goal spread. It works very similarly to the run line in baseball. Usually, there is a 1.5-goal spread in ice hockey games, so you can either lay it with the favorites or the underdogs.
Totals in ice hockey are also very simple to understand—they are bets that are based on the total number of goals you think will be scored in the game.
There is always a margin set by bookmakers, and you need to guess whether the total number of goals will be below or above that margin.
Different games have different margins, but sports betting sites usually set them between 5 and 6.5 goals, depending on the teams playing and who the goalies are. If the score matches the total, then a “push” happens and you get your bet back.
This is a bet that is very similar to the moneyline bet, but it includes the result of the 3 periods, so it has the draw option as well. With the introduction of the draw option, the odds for the home or away team to win will increase as well.
A parlay bet in ice hockey is when you place a bet on several outcomes that can occur, and you need to get them all correct if you want to get a payout. Of course, these types of bets are much riskier, as they involve more inclusions in your bet slip, but the odds and the potential win will be much greater.
Moving on, grand salami bets are common and popular in ice hockey betting sites. It allows you to place a totals bet on the total number of goals scored in all games during that particular day.
Of course, there are different total margins for each game day, but as an example, if there are 8 games today, the total will be 40-50 goals. Thanks to grand salami bets, punters will watch games with much greater interest.
As is the case with all other sports, there are various futures bets available with ice hockey. As the name itself suggests, here you can wager on a certain team to win a certain competition. Bookies offer future bets well in advance of the start of the season/tournament.
Prop bets are additional bets that you can make in ice hockey. They represent specific outcomes in a certain game, and you can place player or game props. You can bet on whether a team wins with the correct score or if a player reaches a certain score, and these bets can be about anything related to an ice hockey game.
Live Betting Experience
Finally, we know how popular live betting is among punters worldwide, so we had to include it in our list of betting types for ice hockey.
Live betting in ice hockey works the same as in any other sport. Ice hockey bookies allow you to bet on a game as it is happening. Of course, the odds are changing and are very dynamic based on the real action during the game.
Live betting is more suited for experienced punters, as it requires tons of knowledge and the ability to make quick-fire decisions based on what you’re seeing during an ice hockey game.
Top Ice Hockey Leagues and Tournaments
The International Ice Hockey Federation counts 74 members, so you can imagine that there are plenty of tournaments throughout the world that you can follow and bet on. Some of the most popular ice hockey tournaments and competitions occurring in a calendar year are:
- Winter Olympics – ice hockey is present in the Winter Olympics since the 1920s, and plenty of players consider playing there the pinnacle of their careers;
- World Championships – held annually, and 16 top nations participate in it. Unlike the Winter Olympics, this is a men-only event;
- NHL – stands for National Hockey League, and it is the biggest professional ice hockey competition in the world. 30 teams from Canada and the US compete in it, and it is split into two leagues (conferences) – Eastern and Western. 16 teams compete in the playoffs and the season lasts from October to April;
- Kontinental Hockey League – introduced in 2008 and it sees 28 teams from Eastern Europe compete in it;
- Swedish Hockey League – arguably the best league in Western Europe, and it has 14 teams competing for the Le Mat Trophy;
- American Hockey League – one division below the NHL, and it is the main stepping board for talented young players. The structure is the same as the NHL – 30 teams compete in the AHL;
- NCAA Ice Hockey Championship – this is the American College System, which is very popular in the US due to its ability to produce the next generation of stars.
As you can see, if you are thinking about starting your betting adventure with ice hockey, you are well-stocked with options.
Ice Hockey Betting Tips
We’ve figured that you might use a guide on some strategies you can use to enhance your chances of landing a winning bet in ice hockey. However, keep in mind that these strategies will not guarantee you a win, as there is also a big element of luck involved.
Choose a Reputable Ice Hockey Bookmaker
The first and most obvious tip would be to choose your betting site carefully. Always search for a licensed and secure operator where you will feel comfortable placing real money bets and providing sensitive data.
Bet on Underdogs
We don’t say that you should always count on the underdogs to cause an upset, but it is not a bad idea to back them from time to time. Underdogs always have handsome odds and good payout potential, and upsets do happen in ice hockey, no matter the competition.
Do Your Research
Researching ice hockey games is vital before you place a bet. You need to take several stats into account, not just the bare ones.
Take note of the historical matchups, recent form, injuries, starting goalies, as well as the away team’s road game advantage (if there is any).
Choose a Strategy
There are various betting strategies you can use when placing wagers on ice hockey games. The Martingale System, the Fibonacci betting strategy—you name it, there are plenty of options to choose from, all depending on your experience level and budget.
Betting calculators are quite useful for bettors, allowing you to develop solid long-term strategies quickly. There are many types of calculators that are effective for different types of bets and sports.
Finally, the most important aspect of betting online is having control over your budget. Whenever you bet on ice hockey, remember to set a daily/weekly/monthly limit and never go out of it. That is how ice hockey betting will always remain a good pastime activity, and nothing more.
How to Bet on Ice Hockey
There are a few steps that you need to take when you decide to start placing wagers on ice hockey. Thankfully, we have a short guide for that as well, so follow the next few steps below, and you have nothing to worry about.
Register at a Bookmaker
We’ve already mentioned the importance of choosing the right ice hockey bookie, so now you need to complete the registration process. It doesn’t usually take more than a couple of minutes, and sites will ask you for some basic personal information—email, phone number, as well as a new username and password.
Make Your First Deposit
Before you even begin your ice hockey betting journey, you need to make your first deposit on the site. Choose your payment method and top up your account. Keep in mind here that different hockey bookmakers will have different minimum deposit limits.
Claim the Welcome Bonus
For sports betting sites to attract more punters to register, they will always offer a handsome welcome bonus for new players. Once you have made your first deposit, you will be eligible for the welcome package. Read its T&Cs and decide whether you want to claim it or not.
Now, the fun can begin, as you are ready to start betting on ice hockey events. Browse through the bookmaker’s offer, see which games and tournaments you have at your disposal, and place whichever bet you wish.
Is it Safe and Legal to Bet on Ice Hockey?
Here, once again, we will emphasize the importance of choosing the right sports betting site. If you choose a reliable operator, then you have nothing to worry about in terms of safety when betting on ice hockey.
As for its legality, this matter differs from state to state. Different states have different approaches to online sports betting, so it mainly depends on where you live.
How can I win my ice hockey bets?
There is no winning strategy that will guarantee you wins with your ice hockey bets. However, doing your research and playing responsibly are the main pillars of a good ice hockey betting adventure.
What is a moneyline bet in ice hockey?
A moneyline bet is the simplest bet type in ice hockey. It means that you need to choose a team you think will win the game.
Can I bet live on ice hockey games?
Yes, all reliable bookmakers have an extensive live hockey betting section that you can utilize. Depending on the sportsbook in question, various betting types are at your disposal here.