Hockey Net Dimensions

It’s a goal! The puck hits the cross bar and deflects right into the net and the arena and scoring team goes wild! As you are celebrating with your pals, let’s test your hockey knowledge and see if you know the standard dimensions of a regulation hockey net! To make it easy, we have created this article all about hockey nets. As it is, regulation hockey nets have had a long history and they have come a long way from the early days when only two pieces of metal or wood were inserted into the ice to serve as the hockey goal.

1. What is a Regulation NHL Net Size?

So, what is the regulation size of an NHL hockey net? A hockey goal is rectangular and made of two vertical side posts and a crossbar at the front, where the posts and side posts are made of thick steel and painted red. The typical size for this essential part of the hockey game is as follows:
Hockey Net Width – 72 inches
Hockey Net
Height – 48 inches
Hockey Net Depth – 40 inches

The goal has a rounded base with an 18-inch radius, along with an overall width of 88 inches. The metal tube frame is approximately 2 inches in diameter. The mesh net enclosing the goal has an opening size of 1 5/8 inches. The metal frame is painted red in NHL and most other leagues as well.

The current dimensions have been adopted by the NHL following the 2013-14 season. The bottom depth of the goal frame was previously 44 inches, and it was then changed to 40 inches. The side radius was previously 20 inches long. The new size is 18 inches. The most drastic change was made in the total width where it was adjusted from 96 inches to 88 inches. Another minor change was made in the radius of the corner where the posts meet with the crossbar. It was changed to a 90-degree angle from the previous rounded curve. This change was made to allow maximum space for the top corner shots to reach the goal.

Evolution of the NHL Hockey Net

  • Pre-1990: The hockey goal line was approximately 10 feet from the end boards
  • 1990-91: The hockey goal line was moved out by one foot from the end boards, effectively creating 11 feet room behind the nets. The standard size of the net was set to be 44 inches deep and 96 inches wide. 
  • 1998-99: The hockey goal line was moved two feet from the end rink boards to 13 feet. 
  • 2005-06: The hockey goal line was reverted to be 11 feet from the end boards. 
  • 2013-14: The nets were made shallower. The depth was reduced to 40 inches from 44 inches. The width was reduced to 96 inches from 88 inches.

Impact of Hockey Net Changes on the NHL

What was the impact of the new changes made in the hockey net size? Allowing more space to move and a narrow net, it was made possible to score more wraparound goals. The hockey puck now had a lesser distance to travel from behind the net to around the post and in the goal. It also created a lot more room behind the net, making it easier for the team on the offensive to keep control of the puck and move around!

It also increased the efficiency of the passing game from behind the net. Goaltenders had to be more careful about the changing angle of the puck coming from behind the net. Overall, the changes allowed space for more puck movement from below the goal line. 

Furthermore, goaltenders became more vulnerable to bank plays as there is less protection for them from behind the post. The slimmer net means more times it is likely for the puck to bounce off their backs into the goal. 

Although smaller hockey nets opened up more space for the offensive team, they also allowed active goaltenders some more space to play within the trapezoid. Defenders also had a bigger passing lane for playing the puck from behind the net, helping speed up breakouts.

What are Hockey Nets Made Out of?

So, what are the nets made out of? The earliest nets were made of ropes, but these days polyester has replaced them. The high-quality nylon ensures that the net does not break even after impact from a hard shot. However, the goal posts have remained essentially the same over the years with a few refinements to increase the strength. They are basically custom-made tubes of galvanized steel which are also the standard in the NHL. You can also get cheap aluminum or plastic tube nets for practice but these will not last if you are shooting pucks at them instead of tennis balls!

What is the Hockey Netting Made of?

Hockey net meshing is typically made of high tenacity polypropylene. The knotless mesh can withstand the impact of any puck traveling at high speed.

How Heavy Are Hockey Nets?

How heavy is a hockey net? A typical hockey goal weighs in the range of 40-50 pounds due to the reinforced steel used in the construction. The mesh netting does not weigh very much in comparison to the steel frame. If you would add the weight of the cameras found in professional leagues, that’s a couple more pounds but any steel hockey net typically weights in the 40-50 pound range!

How Many Cameras do NHL Nets Have In Them?

Many fans want to know what kind of cameras do NHL nets have in them. Here’s the answer. The nets are configured with as many as five cameras to get a complete view of the puck. On the front, two NHL cameras are embedded in the crossbar, looking straight down, focused at the goal line. The third is mounted between them, at the back of the net, giving a little lower angle view of the goal line. Right in the middle of the net, a 360-degree robotic camera is mounted on a bracket. 

This camera is enabled with full pan-and-tilt actions and is operated by a veteran camera operator. Just below that, in the center of the net, is a high-definition camera with a 15 mm fisheye lens. This, too, is managed by two camera operators via remote to take still photos of the game. The net cameras were used for the first time in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics that took place in Norway. Soon after, NHL made it a standard practice to include a behind-the-goalie angle in all their games.

How is a Hockey Net Secured in the Ice?

A lot of hockey fans also ask how do you secure a hockey net into the ice? Magnetic anchors were used from 1986 to 1991. However, as these caused the net to be dislodged easily, and new system was introduced. Players soon learned to take advantage of the magnetic anchors. Forwards started crashing the nets more frequently as there was no risk involved. On the other hand, defenders often deliberately dislodged the net when things became a little bit tense around the goal, thus stopping the play. 

Under the current system, sections of flexible plastic pipe are drilled into the ice to hold the goalposts in place. The goalposts also have pegs that are inserted into the ice so it is essentially putting a peg in a hole. These allow the nets to sustain moderate bumps from players, as well as the goalie pushing off with his skate from post to post. When a major impact happens, these nets dislodge in order to minimize player injuries.

How Much Do Hockey Nets Cost?

An NHL regulation hockey net costs in the range of $700 to $900. You can get it online easily but getting a good quality hockey net is imperative to ensure it lasts multiple years and not just a few seasons especially if the player will be shooting regulation pucks. If you want some detailed costs, check out our article on the best hockey nets!

These pretty much summarize what a hockey goal is all about. Net camera views have a pivotal role in dishing out the full excitement of the game to viewers. The way nets are now in the passage of evolution, and it is safe to assume that they will remain the same over the coming years. That said, there have been quite a few debates on this. 

A few years ago, the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs suggested that NHL increase the size of the net so that more could be scored. He suggested that since the nets were guarded by bigger goaltenders, they had an additional advantage. It would be interesting to have a survey among players and fans as to whether the nets should stay as it is, or change in the future. One thing is clear, any change in the net size is going to affect the game, and therefore the changes should be brought only after a clear consensus has been reached!

The History of Hockey Nets

Ice hockey nets have an interesting history and up to the 1800s, hockey goals were made by simply placing two rocks on the ice to mark the goal zone. Goals could have been scored from either side, front or back. Then, until the 1890s, nets were made by simply jamming two sticks upright in the ice. The goal judge stood just behind the goal and waved a handkerchief every time a puck crossed the goal line, and it was considered a valid goal. 

However, this vintage method had its drawbacks. As we all know, hockey pucks move quickly, and it was not always possible to tell if it had passed between the goalposts once it had left the attacker’s stick. Human errors from umpires were common, and games involved a lot of bickering whether a valid goal was scored. In the mid-1890s, some further improvements were made inspired by the goal of another cold-weather sport, ice polo. 

Two sections of gas pipes were placed as uprights, and the third piece of pipe was joined with them to create the top. This crossbar added stability to the goal, and netting was also attached at the backside to capture the puck- no more arguments about whether the puck had gone in or not!

In the beginning, this contraption received mixed reviews from observers. However, a major newspaper observed that netting would change the game. Indeed, this was the beginning of a major change in the history of nets

The Halifax hockey teams were the first to develop goal nets called the Nova Scotia Box Net. It was used for the first time on January 6, 1899. The goal judge now stood behind the box net. In December 1899, the hockey teams of Montreal tried the nets, and they became quite popular. Within a year, they were used all over Canada. Nova Scotia in Canada is regarded as the birthplace of ice hockey and the earliest version of the game played there on the frozen Long Pond was called hurley-on-ice. 

After this, the evolution of professional hockey helped to standardize the size of the net. The National Hockey Association was the precursor of the NHL. The first official hockey net for the Association was designed by Percy LeSueur of the Ottawa Silver Seven. Made of steel pipe, this net was 6 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 22 inches deep at the base. It was 17 inches deep at the top. A rope net was draped across the back and tied in place. 

Art Ross updated this design in 1928. He was the owner of a sporting goods store in Montreal and a former defenseman. The new design consisted of a double semicircle enclosure at the back, capable of trapping puck shots from any angle. Before this, pucks often ricocheted out of straight back nets. 

Fast forward 50 years to the 1980s, and the NHL stopped using the double semicircle style net after it was found to cause injuries.  A return to the straight-back nets was to help with player safety. Around this time, NHL also looked after the issue of safely anchoring the net to the ice. By this time, steel pipes were used to hold them in place. In this phase, several players became injured, rushing into the nets. For example, Gordie Howe once suffered from a bleeding forehead injury when he crashed into the Montreal net. 

However, the issue of nets becoming dislodged and stopping play still existed. Neither was there a lesser risk of injuries. Howe’s son, Mark, suffered a major injury while playing for Hartford in 1980. The center spike impaled him and narrowly missed his spinal column after he crashed into the net. This gory incident was a major reason why NHL redesigned the anchoring system in the nets. In 1986, the magnetic anchoring system was introduced. The current anchoring system of a peg inserted into holes in the ice was adopted in 1991.


Hopefully you have enjoyed reading this article about the dimensions of a regulation sized NHL hockey net and a little bit of history on the evolution of the hockey net! Feel free to leave us a comment if you have any questions or comments on the article!

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