Differences Between Ice and Roller Hockey

Ice hockey and roller hockey are both very popular sports, but they are very different games. 

Athletes who play both kinds of hockey note that there are specific skills with each of them, and many players prefer one style over the other.

Here are some of the major differences between the sports:

The teams

Roller hockey is played with 16 skaters maximum with four on each of the teams plus a goalie.

Ice hockey has a 20-player maximum with five on each team plus a goalie.

Body Contact

In roller hockey if you make any kind of deliberate body contact it leads to a major penalty and automatic game misconduct. 

In ice hockey you can body check an opponent as long as the contact does not break any other rules like charging, boarding, hitting to the head or checking from behind.The referee determines the length of the penalty depending on the severity of the contact.

The puck

The hockey puck or flat ball, is made of vulcanized rubber, and they are black about one inch tall and three inches in diameter.

The roller hockey pucks are usually lighter about 3.5 ounces and have less friction over the surface than on the ice. They result in very different feels with the stick.

In ice hockey the pucks are frozen before the game to prevent bouncing on the ice. They are typically 5 to 6 ounces.

Ice Hockey Player


Three times you’re out in roller hockey. That means you get an ejection and cannot play for the rest of the game after three penalties.

It’s not that strict in ice hockey, although you can get a game misconduct if you get three major penalties in one game.


In ice hockey the puck has to enter the offensive zone before any of the other offensive players do.

In roller hockey the players can be stationed in various places, but the offensive player must cross the middle red line before passing and making a goal.


Icing is an infraction when an offensive player shoots from behind the red center line and it crosses the opponent’s goal line without being touched. This is mainly done so teams will avoid a penalty (known as a “penalty kill”) and keeps the team from dumping the puck.

The rule is the same in inline or roller hockey, but the infraction is called “clearing,” and some play roller hockey with no such off-sides infraction.

The rink

Both kinds of hockey are played on the same size rinks, 60 by 40 meters (or 200 by about 100 feet). Ice hockey is played on ice, of course, and divided into three zones: defensive, neutral and offensive.

Roller hockey is played on a plastic floor made up of many six-by-six inch interlocking tiles usually laid over concrete

Length of the game

Roller hockey the games are four 10-minute quarters, or two 20-minute halves.

Ice hockey is played with three 20-minute periods with a mandatory 17-minute break between the first and second period.

Roller Hockey Player