Snowing The Goalie? What Is Snowing In Ice Hockey?
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Snowing The Goalie: What Is Snowing In Ice Hockey?

What is snowing in ice hockey? What does it mean? Is there even a rule against snowing someone in ice hockey? Why do players snow goalies? These are some of the questions you might be asking when you come across the term snowing. Typically, there is no rule against snowing in ice hockey; however, penalties are still given for such offences.  Do you want to know more – follow me. 

What Is Snowing In Ice Hockey?

What Is Snowing In Ice Hockey

Snowing is when a player sprays an opponent (goalie or skater) with ice shavings. Snowing someone in ice hockey occurs when a player drifts with his stakes and causes snow shavings to lift off the ice towards an opponent. Technically snowing is not stated as an offence in ice hockey, but it is an unwritten rule. It means there is no official rule on snowing in ice hockey, but there is a general rule people obey . 

Related Post: What Are The Basic Rules Of Ice Hockey?

Most time (99%), snowing is done to goalies than skaters. Why is this? It is because goalies are usually closer to the ice surface when they squat, knee or lie down to stop the puck. Snowing is done to confuse or intimidate players and goalies; other times, players are just being cocky.

Snowing someone in ice hockey does not cause damage to players most times. However, the action shows poor sportsmanship and can result in a collision between players. 

How Does Snowing Occur? 

To snow someone in ice hockey is relatively easy. First, a player gains momentum by skating very fast, then when at a close distance from the person, the player halts abruptly

In other to halt quickly while skating, a player will need to turn his skates to the side. This action increases the friction between the ice and the sharp skate blade, causing it to scrap the ice on the surfacing resulting in ice shaving. 

These ice shavings fly upward during the process and can spray into the face of a player. Snowing is sometimes done intentionally by players in other to provoke their opponent, out of frustration or just because they can. 

It is for this reason that penalties are assessed to players who are guilty of snowing internationally in ice hockey leagues such as the NHL. 

How Is Snowing Penalized In Ice Hockey

The Penalty For Snowing In Ice Hockey

Snowing is penalized in ice hockey if the player is found as a deliberate action. This means it is not every time a player snows someone that a penalty is called. If this were the case, then every game would be full of snowing infractions. 

As I said earlier, a snowing infraction is only given when the action is deemed to be deliberate. So who is responsible for deciding if snowing was intentional or unintentional?

That responsibility is in the hands of the referees in the game. They look for certain factors and conditions before accepting that a player’s snowing was deliberate. Some include (all the conditions stated here are for snowing to goalies as it is the common case):

  • When a player skating towards the goalie suddenly speeds up as he gets closer to the goalie and digs his skates hard into the ice, causing ice shavings to fly towards the direction of the goalie. 
  • Snowing caused when a player skates forcefully towards the goalie when he will clearly be unable to catch up with the puck.
  • Also, snowing resulting from staking towards the goalie after the whistle has been blown by the referee after the goalie has covered the puck will be counted as an infraction.
  • Spraying a goalie while trying to change direction is not considered and does not attract a penalty.

Is It A Penalty To Snow A Goalie?

Once snowing is counted as an infraction, the referee gives a 2-minute minor penalty to the offending player. Since ice hockey has no rule against snowing, the penalty will be given as an unsportsmanlike penalty. 

It doesn’t matter if the snowing is done to the goalie or any other player, as far as it is considered to be intentional and unsportsmanlike, a 2-minute minor penalty will be given. Repeated violations by a player attract stricter penalties such as a fine, suspension or other disciplinary measures determined by the league.  

NHL Players Penalized For Snowing The Goalie

NHL Players Who Have Been Penalized For Snowing A Goalie

Since snowing goalies is the most common type of snowing to ice hockey players, here are players in the NHL that have been penalized for snowing. Here are three players who have received penalties for snowing a goalie.

1. Robert Bortuzzo (St Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild)

During a game between the Blues and the Minnesota Wild, Bortuzzo snowed the goalie in the third period. After gaining possession of the puck in his team’s defensive zone, the defenceman began a breakout play into the offensive zone. 

However, while trying to manoeuvre the puck between the two Minnesota defence powerhouses, Mikko Koivu (9) and Ryan Suter (20), he played it a bit too long. Even though he increased his speed, his error was enough for the goalie to cover the puck.

While he was to come to a stop, he stopped abruptly in front of the goalie and ended up spraying the goalie. The whistle was blown, and he was sent to the penalty box for a 2 minutes minor. 

2. Nick Foligno (Pittsburgh Penguins vs Columbus Blue Jackets)

In a game between the Penguins and Blue Jackets, the puck was dumped into the defence zone of the penguins. This began the race for the puck as the Blue Jackets’ left-wing and captain (Foligno) and defencemen of the Penguins. 

The puck moved towards the goalie, where it was covered, however, while slowing down, Foligno sprayed ice on the goalie. A dispute arose between players of the Penguins and Blue Jackets, who were not pleased with their goalie getting sprayed. 

Eventually, Foligno was given an unsportsmanlike penalty for snowing and sent to the penalty box. 

3. Ville Leino (Boston Bruins vs Buffalo Sabres)

Ville Leino, while he played for the Sabres, received a misconduct penalty for snowing the goalie of the Bruins. It was during the second period of the game, just six minutes to the end, that he was given an unsportsmanlike penalty. 

Leino was in the offensive zone chasing after the puck before it was eventually cleared by the goalies. Upon getting to the goalie, Leino turned the side of his skates towards the goalie so the ice shaving moved in that direction.

He was given a penalty because he was at a safe distance where he could easily avoid spraying the goalie. The Sabres were receiving a 3-0 defeat from the Bruins, and his action might have been done out of frustration.

Dangers Of Snowing In Ice Hockey 

Dangers Of Snowing In Ice Hockey

When a person is snowed in ice hockey, it doesn’t cause any harm to the person. Aside from the fact that the person might be disoriented for a few minutes, it causes no harm. Instead, some goalies usually say they are cool with being sprayed with ice shavings as it helps them cool down when they heat up in their body gear.

Although some goalies are not offended when snowed, others take it personally. Players from a team are known to start a fight if someone snows their goalie. In addition, if the conflict is not ended by referees on time, someone can get hurt. 

Since snowing is sometimes done to get under the skin of an opposing team, it is penalized because trying to annoy your opponent exhibits a lack of sportsmanship

Lastly, the disorientation spraying cause can make a player or goalie vulnerable to collusion as it can obstruct one’s vision. A player or goal might be unable to move away from an attack for a short period, and since hockey is a fast-paced game, that short moment of unawareness can lead to unexpected hits and collusion. 


This brings us to the end of snowing in ice hockey, what it means to snow someone, snowing a goalie and the penalty for snowing. Now that you know about this unwritten hockey rule, you can go about with a better knowledge of ice hockey. 

Thanks for reading.

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