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A goalie can play the puck inside the trapezoid.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
If you're confused by the trapezoid area behind the net in hockey, you shouldn't be surprised; this marking is relatively new in hockey's long history, having been introduced by the National Hockey League in 2009. You still won't encounter this marking at every level of play -- but if you do, you should understand its purpose.
The trapezoid behind the net is known as the "restricted area." It limits the area in which goaltenders can handle the puck. Goaltenders are allowed to handle the puck in this area behind the net, but they cannot handle the puck anywhere else behind the net. The goaltender can play the puck outside of this area however, provided that he keeps his skate in the crease in front of the net.
The trapezoid starts from two points on the goal line, six feet from either side of the net. A line runs from these two points, to the boards behind the net. The distance between each line is 28 feet at the point where the lines intersect with the boards. If the puck is anywhere within these lines, it's considered to be in the restricted area and the goaltender can play it.
If a goaltender plays the puck outside of the restricted area behind the net, the referee will assess him with a two-minute delay of game penalty. Goaltenders do not have to serve minor penalties however, so another player on the ice will sit out for the duration of the penalty.
The restricted area limits the ability of a skilled goaltender to clear the puck out of his end. Before the introduction of this rule a goalie with solid stick-handling skills could skate into the corners to pass the puck to his teammates or clear it out of his end. This limitation makes it more difficult for teams to clear the puck out of the defensive end and makes it easier for the offense to maintain pressure on the defenders.
- Jared Wickerham/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images