Understanding Goalie Crease and Its Purpose in Hockey

We use affiliate links, and may receive a commission if you purchase a product through our links. Learn more

Have you ever wondered what paints in ice hockey rinks mean? If you have ever seen an ice rink for hockey, you’ll notice that there are markings with different colors.

One of the colors that stand out is the color blue paint in front of each team’s goal and net. This is called crease or goalie crease.

Here, we will be discussing what a goalie crease is, what its purpose is in hockey, and what are the rules related to it.

What is Goalie Crease in Hockey?

If you’ve ever watched hockey, you may have noticed that there are paints in the ice rink including a light blue painted area with a red border right in front, as if connected to each of the team’s nets.

This is the spot where a goaltender should position himself to stop the puck and prevent the opposing team from making a goal.

The other team can also go into the goalie cross as long as they don’t make any move that would intentionally interfere with the goalie’s role to stop the puck.

Goalie Crease Dimensions

The standard size of a goalie crease in the National Hockey League is 8 feet wide having two sides that measure 4 feet each.

Its foot’s size is wider than the goal which is only 6 feet. Moreover, this goalie crease has thick lines that measure 2 inches.

The two lines on the side that are painted out are connected by a semi-circle that has a six inches radius. Lastly, the distance between the goal line and the top of the goalie crease is 6 feet.

Purpose of Goalie Crease in Hockey

goalie crease

The goalie crease has three purposes:

1. It serves as a reference for the goaltender to know where he should position himself while making saves.

2. It is the perfect spot where a goaltender can block the puck from going into the net.

3. It is a place where a goaltender is safest to play and freeze the puck.

Rules in Goalie Crease

The rules in goalie crease have changed over some time. You may have heard from elders that the goalie crease is like a limitation or boundary for ice hockey players, which means if an attacking player steps into the goalie crease, the goal will be disallowed.

This rule is according to “Brett Hull’s No Goal”, which states that any part of a player’s body should not be in the crease as this will result in a “no goal” call. 

So, such a rule used to be true. However, this is no longer applicable nowadays. In the 1999-2000 season, the National Hockey League (NHL) changed the rules regarding the goalie crease in ice hockey.

From considering the goalie crease as a restricted area, the hockey players are now allowed to enter it to make a goal more efficient. This question then arose, “Why need a goalie crease if the opposing team is allowed to step into it?”

Can a Player Go Inside the Goalie Crease?

Goalie Crease in Hockey

Yes. Attacking players can go inside the goalie crease to make a goal.

Unlike the rules before, this will no longer be considered a foul. However, the players should not have any intentional or unintentional contact with the goalie or else the goal won’t be allowed and the player will be subjected to a penalty.

Additionally, the player can only enter the goalie crease if the puck goes inside it first. This is also applicable to the opposing player’s gear such as his hockey skates or sticks.

How does a Goalie Crease Protects the Goalie? 

When a goaltender is inside the goalie crease, he is safe while still playing his role in the team.

Although the opposing team player can go into the crease, there shouldn’t be any physical, whether intentional or not, contact between them. Some may say that it should be permitted if it’s incidental.

However, that won’t make any sense because when a player reaches that certain spot, it’s obvious that he is trying to hit the goalie for him to make a goal.

Therefore, even incidental contact is already a foul. If this happens, though the puck successfully entered the goalie’s net, it won’t be considered a goal. The referees will then give them a 2-minute penalty for this act. 

Moreover, incidental contact with the goalie will be allowed only if he is outside the goalie crease.

Is the Goalie Crease the Only Place for a Goalie?

The simple answer is “no”. The goalie crease is just the best place for a goalie to block or stop the puck. But, stepping out of the goalie crease doesn’t make the goaltender disqualified from the game. He is allowed to step out if he needs to block angles which also aims to make saves.

How to Know if a Goalie is Inside the Goalie Crease?

If you are a goalie, it doesn’t require your whole body for the referees to tell you that you are inside the goalie crease.

Even if it’s just your toe stepping on the goalie crease, you are still considered inside it. Hence, your moves applicable for a goalie inside the crease will still be valid. 

What Should Goalies Avoid Inside the Goalie Crease?

Attacking players are not just the one who has restrictions when they are inside the goalie crease.

The goalkeeper also has moves he needs to avoid such as stepping on the puck to hide it, picking it up, or holding it. If the goalie does this, the opposing team will be granted a penalty shot.

Altercation Outside the Crease

There are some instances where fights happen in hockey sport. This is a normal occurrence and is allowed in the NHL. When this happens outside the goalie crease, the goalie must stay still in his position, or else he will receive a minor penalty. 

International Hockey Crease Rule

As stated in its name, this rule applies to all hockey sports all over the world. That is, if an attacking player intentionally stands in the goalie crease, the play will be halted by the referee with a faceoff in the center of the ice rink.


A goalie crease is not just a design to make the ice rink presentable. This also applies to all paints in the ice rink- they have meanings and purposes.

A goalie crease is a safe place and a guide for a goaltender to know where he should position himself to play his role more effectively and win the game.

This has corresponding rules to avoid penalties and disqualifications and for the game to flow smoothly.

Photo of author


Charles Adam
Charles is from the state of Minnesota. As Minnesota is one of the coldest states in the US, there is no surprise that he likes ice fishing. Along with ice fishing, he also likes to watch the NHL.

Leave a Comment