What happens when a goalie gets a penalty
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What happens When A Goalie In Ice Hockey Gets A Penalty?

An infraction in ice hockey is a situation when a player performs an action that goes against the rules and regulations of the game. In ice hockey, an infraction is punished by a penalty. 

In a penalty, a player is sent to spend time in the penalty box. However, the length of the penalty depends on the type of penalty incurred – whether it is a major, minor, or misconduct penalty. 

After the penalty has the given, the player who is the offender is sent to the penalty box to serve the penalty time. During this moment, the opposing team has a man advantage over the other team. A man advantage is when a team has more players on the ice than their opposing team. 

But there is a catch to this rule. Even though every player can receive a penalty not every player serves penalty time. A certain player that does not serve penalty time in ice hockey is the goalie.

In this article, we will be looking at why the goaltender in ice hockey can not serve penalty time along with some exceptions to this rule. Therefore, let’s begin. 

Is It Possible For A Goalie To Be Given A Penalty?

Goalie infraction

As I said earlier, there is not a player on the ice in ice hockey that can not receive a penalty. This rule equally applies to goalies in ice hockey – meaning that goalies are given penalties in ice hockey. 

Some examples of the infractions of ice hockey goalies include:

  • Playing The Puck Outside The Trapezoid:
    The trapezoid in ice hockey is a section of the ice at the back of the goal net where ice hockey goalies are allowed to play the puck at the back of the red goal line. If a goalie plays a puck at the back of the red line outside the trapezoid he will be given a penalty. 
  • Handling The Puck Inside The Opponent Side Of The Ice:
    After the red center line in ice hockey, goaltenders are not allowed to play the puck, or even tackle players inside the opponent side. If a goaltender does this they will be assessed a minor penalty, 
  • Leaving The Ice During An Altercation:
    In addition, goaltenders are not allowed to leave the net for the bench during a stoppage in play. If he must do this he must seek permission from the referee. Also, a goalie is awarded a penalty if he leaves the goal crease to the bench after an on-ice altercation. 
  • Placing Hockey Stick On The Ice In Front Of The Goal Net:
    It is a penalty for ice hockey players to play with a broken stick. However, this does not apply to goalies and a goal is allowed to play with a broken stick. But, the instance in which an infraction can be counted for a goalie is when he places the broken stick on the ice, in front of the goal net, or if he leaves the goal crease to fo get another stick. 

What Happens When A Goalie Receives A Penalty?

Now, let us talk about the difference between a penalty given to a skater on the ice and a goalie. You know that when a skater (forward or defense) is penalized, the player in question serves the penalty. 

But the case is different for goalies. If a goaltender is given a penalty in ice hockey, he does not serve the penalty. What happens is that the team will have to surrender a player on the ice to replace the goalie on the ice.

For instance, if a goalie plays a puck outside the trapezoid at the back of the goal net and is assessed a two-minute minor penalty, a winger on the team can be made to go to the penalty box in place of the goaltender

The replacement player to serve the penalty in the place of the goalie can be from any position on the ice. Most times, the decision of who to pick to serve the penalty time of the penalty given to the goaltender is made by the head coach or any of the other coaches. 

The player chosen by a coach to serve the penalty time is usually one that is not from the defensive line. This is because since the team is shorthanded, the opposing team who is on the power play will use the opportunity efficiently to line up intensive offensive plays. 

Reason Why Goalies Are Not Made To Serve Penalty Time In The NHL

Reason why goalies don't serve penalty time

Previously in the NHL, goalies were made to serve their penalty time in the penalty box whenever they committed an infraction. During this period, after a goalie goes to serve his penalty time, a player who is on the ice goes to the net and tries his best to guard it for the duration of the penalty

However, during the 1942-43 season, the NHL remove this rule from its rule books and made goalies immune to serving penalty time. The reason for this is that the league saw that taking away the goalie from the net was like an extra disadvantage to the team, giving the opposing team too much advantage aside from the man advantage.

Ever since the rules, other players on the ice now serve the penalties of their goalies. But even though a goalie does not serve penalty time, the penalty minutes (PIM) are counted on his stat. In case you don’t know, PIM is the cumulative sum of all the duration of penalties given to a player. 

Exception To A Goalie Not Serving Penalty Time

There are two major exceptions to the concept of goalies not serving penalties in the penalty box. The first one is based on the penalty they commit while the other is based on the ice hockey league they are playing for

If a goalie commits a misconduct penalty or any penalty that leads to ejection from the rest of the game, the penalty is not served by any other member of the team than the goalie himself. The actions that can warrant this include attacking a player or official with the intent to injury. 

In some cases in which a game misconduct penalty is given along with a minor penalty, the goalie can be sent to the bench and another player will also be made to serve the penalty. 

Secondly, based on the league, some leagues, such as the NCAA, have a different set of rules. In the NCAA, a goalie will be sent to the penalty box if he is assessed a major penalty or misconduct penalty. So this is different from the major and minor penalty immunity in leagues like the NHL, AHL, and more. 

Penalized Goalies In The NHL

Goalies in the NHL receive penalties a lot. These penalties are counted as part of their cumulative penalty minutes (PIM). The PIM shows how often a goalie commits infractions in games. 

Most PIM By A Goalie In The NHL

Goalie with the highest career PIM

The NHL goalie with the most PIM for an  NHL career is Ron Hextall. Ron Hextall during his career with the NHL has a cumulative 569 penalty minutes. The goalie who played for the Philadelphia Flyers, Quebec Nordiques, and New York Islanders played a total of 608 NHL games. Next to him is Billy Smith with 475 penalty minutes. 

RankingPlayers PIM
1Ron Hextall569
2Billy Smith475
3Tom Barrasso437
4Ed Belfour380
5Sean Burke310
6John Vanbiesbrouck310
7Mike Vernon271
8Don Beaupre286
9Patrick Roy262
10Dan Bouchard255
Data from quanthockey.com

Most Penalty Minutes By Goalies For The 2022-23 Season

Goalie with the most PIM for the 2022-23 season

The most penalty minutes by a goalie for the 2022-23 season is by Jordan Binnington, the goaltender of the St Louis Blues. He recorded a total of 19 minutes of penalty time in 61 games during the 22’ regular season

Ranking PlayersPenalty In Minutes (PIM)
1Jordan Binnington19
2Alex Stalock16
3Jacob Markstrom14
4John Gibson12
5Pheonix Copley9
6Thatcher Demko4
7Darcy Kuemper4
Data from statmuse.com

Most Penalty Minutes By A Goalie For The 2021-22 Season

Goalie with the most PIM for the 2021-22 season

Jordan Binnington once again topped the league as the goalie with the most PIM in the 2021-22 season. In 37 games, Binnington recorded a cumulative PIM of 14 minutes. This is more than John Gibson who played 56 games and had a PIM of 12 minutes.

Ranking Players Penalty In Minutes (PIM)
1Jordan Binnington14
2John Gibson12
3Robin Lehner10
4Jacob Markstrom10
5Elvis Merzlikins8
6Jonathan Quick6
7Mike Smith6
8Andrei Vasilevskiy6
9Jeremy Swayman6
10Sergei Bobrovsky4
Data from statmuse.com


Goalies are considered to be one of the most protected sets of players on the ice. They serve the role of protecting the net and the vital role of keeping the hope of the team alive.  With this, it is only natural that they are given a certain level of freedom and privileges.

But one thing to note is that ice hockey goalies do not usually make as many infractions that call for a penalty as skaters. This is because they do not often come in contact with players from the opposing team that often. Therefore there are fewer chances of an altercation between them and the opposing team’s players. 

Thanks for reading.

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