Roller hockey is played on a smooth plastic surface rather than ice. The puck is a hard plastic puck rather than a hard rubber puck, and players skate with inline hockey skates with wheels instead of metal blades.
Many persons encountering inline hockey for the first time may already be familiar with ice hockey. Beyond the physical differences between ice skates and inline roller skates, the chief differences between inline and ice hockey are:
- No checking. Contact is allowed, but only when aiming to play the puck.
- Relaxed or no off sides in the USA (tournament rules enforce center line off sides but no neutral zone; varies from country to country).
- No icing (tournament rules may enforce this; varies from country to country).
- Played with 4 players (instead of 5 for ice) and a goalie from each team.
- Instead of a rubber puck, the game is played with a non-bounce plastic puck with hard nubs to reduce friction. Lighter than an ice puck.
- Players wear a long and less padded pant specifically made for added mobility in roller hockey and often don't wear shoulder pads (no checking).
Roller hockey is more of a finesse and free flowing game than ice hockey is. Brute strength will only have you end up in the penalty box. With these differences, roller hockey is a much faster pace and higher scoring game than ice hockey. However there are professional roller hockey leagues in the U.S. that allow full contact.
There are many rules that very from league to league as far as contact goes, but the most basic equipment includes; helmet, inline hockey skates, shin pads, elbow pads, hockey gloves, stick, and protective cup or pelvic protector.
Roller hockey is played just like ice hockey, with the main objective being to score as many points on the opposing team’s goal within the three periods (or halves) of play which vary in length. Four players and a goalie are placed on the rink for each team. Usually each team has two defensive players, and two offensive players. During play, the boards surrounding the rink act as containment for the puck, and also can be used to your advantage in getting around opponents or to pass to your players. Just like ice hockey, substitutions can be made on the fly and at stoppages of play. The puck only stops for goals, penalties, puck shot outside of rink, and being covered by the goalie. You will see far less whistles in roller hockey than ice hockey due to the elimination of off sides and icing. For more on rules and game play, see the USA Hockey Inline Rule Book.
Where to play
Roller hockey in Cincinnati has had its share of ups and downs due to the economy. Currently the only place in the city to play on a dedicated roller hockey rink is SportsPlus located in Evendale, OH. Roller hockey costs are much lower than ice hockey. One can join a Sunday adult league for as little as $100 for 10-12 games. Equipment costs vary tremendously, but an entry level player can get outfitted with decent equipment from a secondhand store in the $200-500 range for everything.
How to get involved
To get started playing roller hockey in Cincinnati, contact inline hockey manager Brett Morton at sports plus. You can view the leagues website here.