Beginners Guide to Ice Hockey Betting

Ice hockey is a sport that’s growing in popularity really fast. With strong traditions in North America, the sport also has fans in Europe and other parts of the world. Yet, not many people know much about the wagering on the sport, so this ice hockey betting guide will reveal multiple vital details. You will learn more about the sport, how to wager on it, the go-to markets, and more.

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Understanding the Rules

faceoff ice hockey game

If you’re just starting out, make sure to learn about its rules and hockey betting tips and wager types.

Here’s how the game is played out:

In ice hockey, there are 2 teams, each with six players wearing skates and playing on an ice rink with sticks on hand. Players’ objective is to propel the rubber disk, the puck, past the line and into the net guarded by a goalie or a goaltender. A team scores a point when sending the puck into the goal. The team that scores the most goals at the end of the game wins the match.

An ice hockey game comes with three 20-minute periods, and if a game is tied, overtime is played out to break the time. If the two teams end up tied after the overtime, a penalty shootout happens. For this reason, you will not find a tied game in the regular seasons of the NHL.

During the actual game, the puck can be passed around the players, and it’s the opposing team’s job to prevent a score. The game is fast and comes with frequent physical contact, making it exciting for both the spectators and punters.

Basic Terms

To fully appreciate hockey betting, it’s essential that you’re aware of the different terms and lingo used in the game. Listed below are the popular terms that you’ll encounter when watching or betting on the results.

  • Attacking Zone – The other team’s end of the ice.
  • Assist – A play between two players of the scoring team who pass, shoot, or deflect the puck towards the scoring player.
  • Blue Line – This is the line that separates the defending and attacking zones from the neutral zone.
  • Blueliner – The defenseman.
  • Body checking – To use the body or hip to knock an opponent and only allowed in the men’s game.
  • Breakaway – A player has possession of the puck, and he’s free to score with only the goalie in the way.
  • Cage – This is the metal grid that attaches to the front of the player’s helmet for protection.
  • Defender – The player that tries to defend against an opposing attack from another player.
  • Defensive zone – This extends from the blue line to the end boards.
  • Rink – The ice-coated playing area of the players.
  • Faceoff – This happens at the start of the play or after the stoppage of the game. In a faceoff, a player from each team attempts to gain control of the puck after it’s dropped.
  • Goal – A player scores this if the puck passes through the goal line in front of the net.
  • Goaltender – Also called the goalie, he’s the player who plays in and around the goal. His objective is to prevent the other team from scoring a goal.
  • Golden goal – A game-winning goal.
  • Hat-trick – A player who scores three goals in a game.
  • Linesman – The official who’s responsible for conducting faceoffs and identifying player infractions.
  • Minor and Major penalties – This is a 2-minute and 5-minute penalty.
  • Official – The person who is responsible for regulating gameplay.
  • Overtime – This is an extra session of play to end a tie.
  • Referee – The official that runs and manages the game.
  • Zone – One of the three areas on the rink that’s divided by blue lines.

Where to Find Hockey Betting Websites?

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The National Hockey League (NHL), the Stanley Cup, and other minor leagues offer punters plenty of ice hockey betting opportunities. To take advantage of this growing betting industry, it’s essential that you check out the leading online hockey betting sites. Today, most sportsbooks list ice hockey as one of its covered sports. Each operator offers bettors promising bonuses, competitive odds, and helpful betting tools and resources.

Just like the choice of an online casino, the selection of a bookmaker should be based on several parameters. For example, you’ll need to check its approved remote license and verify if it accepts real money bets from players from your country. Also, you’ll need to review the leagues and matches covered and how competitive the ice hockey betting odds are. It also helps if the website accepts in-play betting or offers other tools and resources, including live stream, multiple odds format and calculator, mobile app, and hockey sports betting tips and guides.

If comparing sportsbooks is challenging, you can always rely on websites that list and review these ice hockey betting sites for punters. Our team covers the hockey sports betting industry like a pro, and we check and review these popular sites for you. By checking our list of hockey betting sites and tips, you can fully focus on what truly matters: following and betting on your favourite team!

How to Place Bets on Ice Hockey – Step-by-Step Guide

After learning the key ice hockey betting details and terms, it’s time to see how to place bets. This sport is available on almost all online bookmakers, so here are the general steps you should follow.

  1. Go to the website of your chosen operator – Feel free to choose any of the bookmakers we recommend. We have tested all of them, and each one offers many options for hockey betting and good odds.
  2. Register – The second step is to create an account with the given website. Every registration process is different, but you don’t need to complete it if you already have an account.
  3. Check the bonus category (optional) – All of the big sports betting sites have bonuses, some of which will work for ice hockey. If you want to use a bonus, we recommend checking the T&Cs before making a deposit because some offers require you to activate them beforehand.
  4. Make a deposit – Once you are logged in, it’s time to head to the deposit page and choose a payment option. Remember that there’s a minimum requirement, so you should adhere to it.
  5. Go to the sportsbook and check the available ice hockey matches – After you’ve deposited, the next step is to check the sportsbook and choose which ice hockey match you want to wager on.
  6. Add the market (s) to your betslip and place a bet – The number of markets will be different, but you’ll eventually find some options that seem interesting. All you need to do is add them to your betslip and place a bet.

Ice Hockey Betting – a Real-World Example

We have described the entire process of placing a bet, but we know that seeing a real-world example is always helpful. That’s why we want to show you how we have placed a bet on the WAS Capitals vs TB Lightning NHL match.

When analyzing the odds for the moneyline, we can see that WAS Capitals are the favorite with 1.64 odds, whereas TB Lighting is the underdog with 2.3. We usually wager on the favorite, so we have placed $50 on WAS Capitals.

In this case, if WAS Capitals wins the match, we will get a total of $82 ($50 x 1.64 odds), which means a total of $32 in profit. If, however, TB Lightning wins, we will lose our $50 bet.

Keep in mind that there are many different markets, and each one has its specifics. Generally speaking, the markets whose odds are higher are considered harder to predict.

Types of Ice Hockey bets

An important thing you have to remember after reading this ice hockey betting guide is the different types of ice hockey bets. We have tried many options, so here are a few examples worth trying:

  • Live Betting – Ice hockey is one of the sports that you can place live bets on. I have noticed that most operators have additional markets, and live streaming can be one of the available features.
  • Parlays – Also known as Accumulator betting, you can wager on multiple ice hockey matches with a single amount of money. This increases your total odds, but the risk is also high.
  • Grand Salami – This is an interesting term that describes a type of bet where you wager on the number of runs, goals, and points you’ll see on all matches from a specific league on a given day.
  • Futures – I like these types of bets because they let me wager on long-running markets. Also known as Outrights, you can punt on which team will win the Western Conference, for example, as well as many other options.

Which Are the Most Popular Competitions?

ice hockey arena

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is the primary organization that governs all ice hockey leagues and contests and counts around 74 members. Ice hockey games, both at the amateur and professional levels, are played in different parts of the world and are popular in North America and Eastern Europe.

Although the sport is prevalent in regions with cold winters, it’s also growing in popularity in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. You can find plenty of tournaments and competitions that you can follow and bet on for these reasons. Listed below are the most popular ice hockey competitions you can bet on starting today.

Winter Olympics

The sport is one of the highlights of the Winter Olympics. Participating teams often field professional players of the NHL to improve their chances. And for many players, earning the gold medal in the Winter Olympics is the height of their professional careers.

World Championships

The championships are hosted every year with 16 national teams in participation. However, the World Championships are only for men’s ice hockey teams. This is the most essential annual ice hockey tournament and often attracts the best professional players in the sport. However, some national teams send younger NHL players or amateurs, including the United States. The most successful national team in the World Championship is the Russia/Soviet Union, with Canada, Finland, and Sweden as the other strong teams in this annual event.

National Hockey League (NHL)

The NHL is the most popular league in the world, and the games here are eagerly anticipated. This is staged in North America and features 30 ice hockey teams from the United States and Canada. There are two leagues in the NHL- the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference. The season starts in early October and runs until mid-April. After the regular season, there’s a 16-team playoff round before the Stanley Cup final. Some of the league’s most popular teams are the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the New York Rangers.

NCAA Ice Hockey Championships

Ice hockey is a popular sport in the National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA. Like basketball, ice hockey games also attract huge live audiences. The games are covered by leading US TV shows. In some cases, offshore licensed sportsbooks offer NCAA online hockey betting lines.

Swedish Hockey League (SHL)

Outside North America, the most popular league in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). Ice hockey is the country’s most popular sport, and it’s only natural that this is the most followed league. The successful Swedish ice hockey team that dominates in the World Championships mostly plays in this league. Also, the SHL is the most successful league in Western Europe and includes 14 teams that fight for the Le Mat Trophy.

NHL Betting – What Should You Know

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the most important league for sports in North America. Its popularity and influence extend to many European countries, including Scandinavia, Austria, Germany, and Russia. Thanks to its global reputation and solid following among fans, it’s natural among established sportsbooks to accept real money bets of ice hockey matches.

Just like other markets, NHL online hockey betting offers you plenty of opportunities to win big through popular bets, competitive odds, and betting tools and resources. Some popular NHL hockey bets are Game Winner, First Team to Score, and Point Spread. Players can also explore less common NHL bets like Anytime Scorer, Total Goals, Over/Under, Division and Conference, and the Stanley Cup winner.

In most betting sites, you’ll find two ways on how to bet on ice hockey games. You can put your money on pre-match or go for in-play hockey sports betting. In pre-match, you’ll place the hockey bets ahead of time. For example, you can put your money on the Game Winner or the Point Spread. On the other hand, in-play hockey betting allows you to place your bets even while the game is ongoing. The most popular NHL hockey bets in live hockey betting are Total First Period, Total Second, and Total Third. Keep in mind that in in-play betting, odds are updated in real-time to reflect the injuries, penalties, and changes in scores or momentum.

Aside from these general NHL betting tips, there are a few more strategies that you should keep in mind. Check out the following betting tips to improve your chances online.

Understand conference and divisions

As a punter, it’s essential to know how the league works. Understanding how teams are grouped can help plan your bets. There are two conferences in the league, the Western and Eastern Conferences, which count 32 teams as of 2021. There are four divisions for teams: North, West, Central, and East. There’s one division that’s home to the seven teams based in Canada. Some divisions are filled with good teams and great ice hockey players, so knowing the composition of each division can help punters make informed bets. It also helps to know all four divisions since the top four teams in each division qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs according to the new rules.

NHL Games Schedule

Under the latest league rules, each team will play an 82-game schedule. Traditionally, teams have an 82-game schedule, and 41 of these are played at home and the other 41 on the road.

Knowing the updated schedule of the teams can help you identify confidently assess the hockey sports betting lines. For example, most teams are stronger at home, and in these sports, fans are closer to the action, and they can get passionate about the game. A team with a great home record and a passionate fan base may be difficult to back against.

NHL Playoff Games

After the regular season comes to the NHL playoffs. The top four teams that scored the most points in each division get entry into the playoffs. These teams are ranked according to the accumulated points, and these are crucial during this stage of the tournament. In each round, teams play in a best-of-seven series.

The play-offs start with a Qualifying Round where the bottom eight playoff teams in each conference played in a best of 5 series to earn a place in the final rounds. In the First Round, the eight-ranked team after the qualifiers plays the first-ranked team in the playoffs. And the second-ranked goes up against the seventh-ranked. This serves as the playoff arrangement during the first round. For the Second Round, the winners will square off for the right to advance to the semifinals.

NHL Stanley Cup

After the completion of the semifinals, the top two teams moved on to the Stanley Cup Finals. In all rounds, from the First Round to the Semifinals, the higher-ranked team is given the home-ice advantage, and the four of the seven games played at home. This is why scores are collected, and teams are seeded just before the start of every round. During the Stanley Cup, the team that arrives with the most points gets the home-ice advantage.

The final game is between the two teams that earn a place in the Stanley Cup final match.

Short History and Facts

Ice hockey boasts a long and colourful history. Although the game’s origins have been contested for years, the International Ice Hockey Federation or IIHF has officially ruled that the first organized ice hockey game was played in Montreal, Canada, in 1875. Also, many sources have pointed to the Montreal Gazette as the first to publish the game’s rules for a wide audience. In some research, it was suggested that the first ice hockey games were played in England.

However, the modern ice hockey that we know today was primarily shaped by the ‘Canadian rules’. This development of the rules was followed by competitive games and the establishment of leagues. Some of the early leagues that were established were the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC) in 1886, Ligue Internationale de Hockey Sur Glace (LIHG) in 1908, and the National Hockey Association in 1911, the precursor of what we know call the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL was organized on November 26, 1917, and initially, the league counted four Canadian teams, hence the name ‘National’. Over time, the league accepted more teams to its roster, and by 2021, there are now 32 teams that are part of the league.

Final Thoughts

Ice hockey is one of the most exciting sports to follow thanks to a fast game played on the ice surface, frequent physical contact between players, and the support of a passionate fan base. This popularity of the game extends to ice hockey betting that’s now available in most online casinos and sportsbooks.

With online hockey betting, you don’t just follow or cheer on your favourite team. You’re also given a chance to bet on ice hockey betting lines and collect potential payouts. However, it’s still important to exercise care and due diligence when betting on ice hockey games. Make sure to register at reputable bookmakers and always read hockey picks and NHL betting tips before you wager real money.


How to bet on hockey?

You need to sign up for a real money sportsbook account to access ice hockey betting lines and make a bet.

What are ice hockey betting lines?

This is a form of wagering where the sportsbook set odds to determine the favourite and underdog going into the match. The line then creates a margin or a line between the two teams, where there are two possible outcomes, and it sets the parameters of your wager.

What is NHL consensus picks?

This gives you an idea of how the betting public is placing their bets. For example, 78% of the bets are placed on the favourite to win the match.

Is it best to bet with the public or the NHL consensus picks?

No, it’s not always a smart move to put your money on the consensus pick instantly. It’s best to wait a while and see where the money and bets are moving.

What are NHL futures?

These are examples of NHL hockey bets where you put your money on a result, or even that will happen at a later time of the year. For example, you pick the winner of the Stanley Cup even if the regular season is just starting.

What does a puck line of -1.5 goals for the favourite and +1.5 for the underdog mean?

This means that the favourite hockey team must win by two goals for you to win the wager, while the underdog can win immediately or just lose by a goal.

Leona Melvin
Leona MelvinLeona is part of the Content Writers team behind Nostrabet. With 6+ years of experience within the iGaming industry, she has an in-depth knowledge of casinos and games.