Known as one of the ‘Big Four’, ice hockey is one of the biggest and most popular sports in the United States. The pace and physicality of the sport makes it unique, and so does the fact it is played on ice!

Perhaps even more unique than those things is the puck used to play the game. As no other sport uses a puck, questions are often asked about the origins of ice hockey pucks. Questions are also asked about puck dimensions, materials, and colors, which is why we’ve put this guide together.

Within the guide, we’ve covered everything from hockey puck sizes and weights to the materials used to make hockey pucks and the speeds that they travel across the ice.

History of Hockey Pucks

A hockey puck is a small, flat, circular disc shape that glides across the ice. No one is entirely certain how the hockey puck got its name, although many believe that it was named after a character in William Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’ who went by the name of puck and moved quickly in unexpected directions, like a hockey puck. Another theory is that the word puck derived from an old Irish word, ‘poc’, which means ‘to strike’, and was commonly used in Hurling, a traditional Gaelic sport.

The first hockey pucks used in the early 1800s were made of wood and were round in shape. In the 1870s the pucks were developed into flat squares using either wood or rubber. People later started cutting lacrosse balls into thirds and using the middle third as a makeshift hockey puck. Over the course of the 1900s, these pucks evolved into the rubber discs we now see in ice hockey today. These modern pucks are designed to travel faster and more smoothly across the ice.

Hockey Puck Dimensions

At the professional level the National Hockey League (NHL) is responsible for setting out the regulation size of a hockey puck. The official NHL puck size is the same size as those used throughout high school, college and in other professional hockey organizations, meaning hockey puck sizes don’t change from high school through to the NHL.

hockey puck dimensions

Hockey Puck Size

The NHL state that hockey pucks must be 3in in diameter and 1in in thickness. The regulation circumference is not listed in the NHL rulebook, but assuming the diameter is 3in, the circumference of the puck should be 9.4in.

Hockey Puck Weight

The official NHL puck weight is between 5.5oz - 6oz (156g – 170g). This remains consistent throughout all levels of adult ice hockey, including college matches and international competitions like the Olympics.

Training hockey pucks tend to be heavier, at roughly 10oz (283g), to help players develop their hand and stick speed so that they can generate more power when shooting.

Whilst youth hockey pucks are the same size as regulation adult pucks, they are slightly lighter at 4oz (113g). This allows younger players to develop their stickhandling skills and get used to the feel of the hockey puck on their stick.

What is a hockey puck made of?

Regulation hockey pucks used for matches and competitions at all levels are made from vulcanized rubber. Vulcanization is a chemical process that involves bonding rubber with other materials under high pressures and temperatures, reaching as high as 240°F (140°C). This process transforms the rubber from a gum-like consistency into a final product that is no longer malleable and can retain its shape. This makes the hockey puck much harder and more durable. Vulcanization also helps give the hockey puck its flat finish, which ensures that it travels smoothly across the ice without bouncing.

Vulcanization is just one step of the manufacturing process when it comes to hockey pucks. Firstly, a metal mold is prepared. Then pieces of rubber are compressed and heated to form the puck shape. The puck is then place into the mold and the vulcanization stage is carried out to harden the puck. Finally, any excess rubber is trimmed off and the puck is inspected for any imperfections, before accessories such as a thin layer of paint, textured edges for more control off the stick, or the manufacturer’s logo are applied.

ice hockey practice

What color should a hockey puck be?

An NHL official game puck and those used for other adult matches are most commonly black in color. This provides good visibility as it contrasts with the color of the ice. However, pucks are available in various colors, with training pucks tending to be orange and youth hockey pucks typically blue. There are no set rules or regulations regarding puck colors, so as long as a puck is clearly visible against the ice it can be used.

Hockey Puck Maintenance

Like with any sports other sports equipment, proper maintenance of your ice hockey puck is essential for a reliable performance. It is recommended to clean your ice hockey puck and check for any damage after every game or training session. Removing, dirt, debris, and moisture from the puck’s surface, will help maintain its glide and shape, leading to improved gameplay.

Avoid using any harsh chemicals or cleaning products to clean your hockey puck, and instead use a combination of water with mild dish soap. After cleaning and allowing it to fully dry, consider storing the ice hockey puck in a cooler. This can help maintain the puck's glide across the ice and prevent it from bouncing or flipping over.

Hockey Puck FAQs

How fast does a hockey puck travel?

Hockey pucks are designed to move at great speed across the ice and can reach velocities as high as 100mph! The average shot speed for experienced ice hockey players is typically between 80mph and 90mph. Players can generate even faster puck speeds by using a technique known as a ‘slapshot’, where they aim to hit the puck as hard as possible.

The fastest shot ever recorded during a game of ice hockey was achieved by Alexander Riazantsev who hit the puck at a staggering 114.1mph during a KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) All-Star game in 2012. The NHL record belongs to Zdeno Chara, who recorded a shot speed of 108.8 miles per hour whilst playing in the 2012 NHL All-Star skills competition.

Are hockey pucks frozen before games?

NHL rules state that before games ice hockey pucks must be frozen. It is the responsibility of the home team to keep their game pucks frozen and they must transfer 15 frozen pucks to a cooler inside the penalty box, before each period. Each puck is replaced with a new frozen puck after every two minutes of play, meaning around 25-30 pucks are used during a typical game of hockey in the NHL. The purpose of freezing the pucks is to maintain a consistent glide across the ice at all times and preventing the puck from bouncing or flipping.

Now you have read our complete hockey puck guide, why not explore our range of FORZA hockey equipment?

At Net World Sports we carry a variety of top-quality hockey equipment that is suitable for players of all ages or abilities. Whether you're looking for regulation size hockey pucks, professional-quality hockey goals, training equipment like speed chutes, or gameday gear, we have a great selection of hockey products to choose from.