If you are an avid sports fan, you may be curious about the similarities and differences between ice hockey and lacrosse. This article will discuss the two sports in comparison with each other.

Ice hockey and lacrosse sports
Ice hockey and lacrosse sports

Ice hockey vs lacrosse: key takeaways

  • Lacrosse is played on a field and ice hockey is played on ice.
  • A lacrosse field is a square shape, an ice hockey surface is an oval shape.
  • Lacrosse is played with 10 players on the field, ice hockey is played with 5 players plus a goalie.
  • Lacrosse and ice hockey have different rules of the game.
  • Ice hockey is played with a puck, lacrosse uses a ball.
  • Ice hockey and lacrosse players wear different equipment.
  • Both sports are fast-paced and physical.

It’s important to note that although the two sports differ in many ways, there are some similarities as well.

Ice hockey

Ice hockey is a team sport played by many people around the world. As ice hockey is played on a sheet of ice, the players wear skates to move around the ice.

The objective of the game of ice hockey is to score more goals than your opponent. Professional ice hockey leagues like the National Hockey League (NHL), will play 3 periods with each being 20 minutes in duration.

The team to score more goals over that time will win the game. Overtime periods may be played if there is a tie score.

Ice hockey is a very fast-paced and physical sport. Players often get injured even though they wear protective equipment.

Ice hockey requires skill and strategy to succeed and there are numerous rules of the game to learn.

Ice hockey players

As mentioned, ice hockey is a team sport played on a sheet of ice. There are 6 players on the ice for each team at the same time including a goaltender. The other 5 players include 3 forwards and 2 defensemen.

Each player uses their skills to pass, shoot, and score a goal on the other team using a rubber puck. The players are required to have stamina, speed, and agility to skate fast and make plays against the other team in all areas of the ice.

Goals are scored in the offensive zone and goals are prevented in the defensive zone. The job of the goaltender or goalie is to make saves and prevent the puck from entering the net.

Ice hockey player
Ice hockey player

Ice hockey equipment

Each ice hockey player must wear protective equipment to prevent injuries. Ice hockey is a rough sport and injuries do occur.

Goaltenders wear more protective equipment than the other players as they must stop a very hard puck moving at high speeds.

Players’ equipment includes:

  • Helmet
  • Face shield
  • Elbow pads
  • Shoulder pads
  • Padded pants
  • Shin pads
  • protective cups
  • gloves
  • Skates
  • Mouthguards
ice hockey equipment
ice hockey equipment

Ice hockey sticks are used for shooting and passing the puck. Not all sticks are the same and each player can have a stick designed for them providing it meets the rules and measurement restrictions.

Goaltenders use different helmets and face shields than players. They also use goalie pads on their legs, use a blocker and glove for catching the puck, and the goalie stick is larger than a skater’s stick and is designed for stopping the puck.

The ice hockey puck is made using the vulcanization of rubber and is 3 inches in diameter, 1 inch thick, and weighs 6 ounces. 

ice hockey goalie
ice hockey goalie

Ice hockey playing surface

Ice hockey is played on an oval-shaped ice surface that has dimensions of 200 feet long and 85 feet wide. The ice thickness is 3/4″ thick and has markings that include blue lines, a red line, circles, faceoff dots, a goalie crease, and more.

The ice hockey surface needs to freeze and be maintained at a required temperature, therefore a large indirect refrigeration system is used.

Because ice hockey is played on ice, it is considered to be one of the fastest sports in the world. Players can often skate at speeds up to 30 mph.

ice hockey arena
ice hockey arena

Lacrosse

Lacrosse is another team sport that is not as popular as ice hockey but is growing around the world. It is very popular in North America where it is known to be the oldest organized sport.

The objective of the game is to score a goal by shooting a hard rubber ball into the opposing team’s net. The team with the most goals at the end of the game is the winner.

The length of the game is 60 minutes divided into four 15-minute quarters. If the game is tied at the end, an overtime period will be played.

Like ice hockey, lacrosse is a physical sport. Players do receive injuries and must wear protective equipment.

Lacrosse players

Lacrosse is different from ice hockey where there are 10 players allowed on the field for each team. This includes 3 attack, 3 middies, 3 defenders, and 1 goalie.

Out of the 10 players on the field, 4 must stay in the defensive half, 3 must stay in the offensive half, and 3 can move around the field in any location.

Lacrosse is considered to be a fast-paced sport but much slower than ice hockey as the players are running in shoes on turf or a field instead of skating on ice.

Lacrosse players
Lacrosse players

Lacrosse equipment

Similar to ice hockey, lacrosse players wear protective equipment. Some equipment is similar for both sports but much of it is different.

Lacrosse equipment includes:

  • Helmet and facemask
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Elbow pads
  • Shoulder pads
  • Protective cups
  • Mouthpiece
  • Cleats
Lacrosse player wearing all equipment
Lacrosse player

The stick used by the players in lacrosse is quite different from ice hockey. It is called a lacrosse stick or crosse and is used to handle, pass, and shoot the ball while striking the opposing players stick causing them to drop the ball.

A lacrosse goalie will wear more equipment than the other players including:

  • Throat guard
  • Upper body protector
  • Goalie pants
  • Goalie leg pads

The lacrosse goalie uses a different style of stick than other players. It is unique to the goalie in size and design.

The ball used in lacrosse is made of rubber and has a diameter of 62.7mm – 64.7mm. The ball weighs between 5oz – 5.25oz.

Lacrosse equipment
Lacrosse equipment

Lacrosse playing surface

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two sports is the type of playing surface. Lacrosse is normally played on an outdoor field although it is also played indoors on turf.

The dimensions of a lacrosse field are 110 yards long x 60 yards wide.

The field is marked with sidelines and end lines. Lines on the field divide the attack area, defensive area, and wing area.

An overhead view of a mens lacrosse playing field with white markings painted on grass.
An overhead view of a mens lacrosse playing field with white markings painted on grass.

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