Updated Updated: February 13, 2020

Ice Hockey Betting Guide | Sites, Tips and Types of Bets Explained

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Ice hockey betting overview

Ice hockey is a popular sport to watch and place a bet on, especially in North America, Northern Europe and Russia. The holy grail of ice hockey players worldwide is to play in the NHL (National Hockey League) in the United States.

NHL is by far the most watched and financially rewarding ice hockey league in the world. That is even though in the USA, ice hockey comes 4th on the list of the most watched sports, after American Football (NFL), baseball (MBL) and basketball (NBA).

In the United Kingdom, ice hockey is played professionally in an eleven team format in the Elite Ice Hockey League, founded in 2003. Ice hockey in the UK experienced worldwide success, in the beginning, winning medals in World Championships and even gold at the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany. However, since the Second World War it has all dwindled down.

While in the most parts of the world the word hockey alone is identical with ice hockey, in the UK it might create some uncertainty due to field hockey, which is played on grass or artificial turf. To avoid any confusion for the remainder of the article, in any instance the word hockey is used, it will most definitely refer
to ice hockey.

Ice Hockey Explained

Before you jump in and start betting on ice hockey, it is very important to have a solid understanding of the game. An ice hockey match is played between two teams of six players and the match lasts one hour of regulation time. It is split into three periods, each consisting of 20 minutes. The goald of the game is to win by scoring the puck into the opponents’ net more times than they do. The puck is a small circular disk made of vulcanized rubber that easily slides on ice. The net or goal in ice hockey is merely 120 cm tall and 180 cm wide. When you add a rather large goaltender on the line of the net, it is no wonder why hockey is considered by many bettors a low scoring sport.

An ice hockey game will always end with a winner, some rare exceptions being an exhibition or friendly match. Hockey games that are tied at the end of the regular 60 minute play time, will go to overtime and play on a Golden Goal rule. This makes a difference when it comes to betting on ice hockey, whether to bet on a team winning in regulation time or with overtime included.

Ice hockey is also known as a very physical and violent sport. It has its own structure of penalties and sin bins. For example, if a hockey player is called for a dangerous foul, he is sent to a sin bin for 2 minutes or until the opposing team scores a goal. There is no limit on how many players can be sent to a sin bin at the same time. Also, the 2 minutes penalty can be increased, depending on the level of the player’s infraction.

Ice Hockey Betting Rules

Betting on ice hockey is pretty straightforward. Similar to betting on other sports like football, you have a choice of who will win, total goals scored and other common markets. However, some ice hockey rules might catch you unprepared if you are not familiar with them. As such, it is crucial to take the time to familiarize yourself with the main rules in order to avoid any mistakes when placing bets.

Ice Hockey Matches Do Not End In Draws

This is very important to understand before placing a bet. Unless it’s an exhibition or friendly, ice hockey matches do not end in a draw. An ice hockey match that ends in draw settles by going to overtime and sudden death if no winner is decided in the extra time period. How long and how many overtime periods there are depends on the match, whether it’s a regular-season or a play-off in NHL, in the Winter Olympics or the World
Championships. Regardless, pay close attention when you place a bet on the
winner or goals in an ice hockey match, whether or not your bookmaker counts overtime or not.

Power Plays

Hockey, is largely considered one of the most demanding team sports, where strength, endurance and stamina are essential. A hockey team that’s on ice has 6 players only, of which 1 is the goaltender. If for whatever reason, a hockey player is sent to the sin bin for 2 minutes, it puts great pressure on his team while giving the opponents a chance to dominate. This is even more important to understand if you want to place a live bet on ice hockey during a power play.

Unlimited Substitutions

While a hockey team only has six players on the ice at the same time, the size of its squad is usually around 20 players. Each team is allowed an unrestricted number of substitutions throughout the match. Ice hockey is characterized by its high-intensity intermittent skating, with quick changes in speed and velocity, and numerous body contacts. In hockey, most substitutions are not on an individual basis. Instead, a group of players substitute another group of players in what is called a line change. This can definitely look chaotic especially to the unfamiliar eye.

Betting Strategy

The biggest ice hockey leagues in the world are the NHL (teams from the United States and Canada) and the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League with teams from Russia, China, Belarus, Finland, Kazakhstan, and Latvia). As a general rule of thumb for bettors, these two hockey leagues will offer the best-betting markets.

The best way to bet on ice hockey is to follow two universal rules of betting that apply across all sports and markets: statistical research and a staking plan.

Statistical Research

When you look at a team’s most recent matches and head-to-head results against a current opponent, you might see some trends show up. For example, in NHL the stats for the number of total goals per game are pretty consistent. This gives a bettor some good opportunities to use the stats of a hockey team that is either high or low scoring, and back a bet accordingly. Even more opportunities are in the live in-play markets. If you see two high scoring teams with high scoring head-to-head stats, who are playing now and it’s 0-0 after the first period, it’s likely the goals will start flowing.

Staking Plan

The staking plan is the very foundation to be successful in betting long-term. The idea is to use your funds wisely and turn them into long term profit. It takes discipline and hard work but it is all worth it. Ice hockey is a fast, intense and very physical sport which makes it highly unpredictable at times. A staking plan is necessary to turn betting on ice hockey profitable in the long run.

The idea of a staking plan is to always only use a percentage of your funds to back a bet. That percentage depends on your level of confidence in the bet and it is set in your staking plan and does not change from bet to bet. It sounds easy but it is challenging, especially for the get-rich-quick bettor. There are many staking plans suggestions with the most common and recommended figures as follows:

in your bet
% of your funds used to back the bet
High 4-5%
Moderate 2-4%
Low 1-2%

Taking those figures and putting them in a practical example, if your betting balance is £100, your stake on the most confident bet should be £5.00. That may seem a small amount to back a bet you are very confident will win. That is also the main reason most staking plans fail, lack of discipline and not looking at the long-term picture.

Other Ice Hockey Betting Tips

Who Is The Goaltender?

With only six players on the ice, the role each one plays is essential to the outcome of the match. In particular, a goaltender’s role is of huge importance. Goaltenders appear large in front of a 120cm tall and 180cm wide goal, wearing a helmet, padded equipment everywhere, and a stick. But things change when you take into consideration they are defending the goal against a puck that’s only 76 mm in diameter and 25 mm in thickness which can reach speeds of over 100 miles per hour. With that in mind, it is encouraged to do some research on the goaltenders in an ice hockey match, see their previous results and determine what kind of streak they are on.

Home Or Away Match?

When you consider backing a team in ice hockey, always take into consideration if the team is playing home or away and how that influences the team’s performances. There is a lot of money in ice hockey, especially in the NHL, with stadiums often filled with fans for regular season matches. Some hockey teams perform better in front of their home crowd, others perform worse, while others are
neutral. It is worth knowing those stats before placing a bet.

How to bet on ice hockey

Money Line

The money line is the most popular market when betting on ice hockey. It means you bet on a team to win the match, whether in the regular time, overtime or a penalty shootout.

Puck Line

Similar to handicap betting, puck lines even out the playing field between underdogs and favourites in ice hockey. They are usually listed as +/- 1.5. For example, if you back Chicago Blackhawks at -1.5 puck line against Columbus Blue Jackets at +1.5, they would need to win by 2 or more goals difference. Alternatively, if you backed the Columbus Blue Jackets, they could lose and still make you money, as long as they don’t lose by more than one goal.

Over / Under Goals

In this market you select how many goals will be in a hockey match. You can back the two-way line by selecting either over 5.5 or under 5.5 goals for example. This is pretty identical with the football over/under line. Alternatively, you can back a score line within a bracket, such as 3-4 goals, 4-5 goals, etc. If you bet on 4-5 goals, to win the bet the hockey match has to end with either 4 or 5 goals scored. Lastly, there is the over/under/ exactly market where you have three different selections such as: over 5 goals, under 5 goals, exactly 5 goals.

Markets by Period

Most bookmakers will offer markets to bet on by the end of each period of a hockey match. You can bet on puck lines or over/under goals per period. For example, Boston Bruins -1.5 first period puck line means they would have to win by 2 goals or more at the end of the first period for the bet to be settled a winner.

Team Goals

This is the over/under goals market separated individually between the two teams. You could have a line for the home team to score over 3.5 goals in a match for example.

Both Teams to Score

This hugely popular football betting market is also available for ice hockey with a slight difference. As ice hockey is a much higher scoring sport than football,  both teams to score market reflects that. Instead of a Yes or No as in football, bookmakers will list different lines in hockey, such as Both Teams to Score 2 or more goals, 3 or more goals, etc.

Race to Markets

This is betting on which team will get to a certain milestone first. Most common milestone is goals. For example, you can back the away team to race to 2 goals and they would have to score 2 goals first in order for the bet to win. It doesn’t matter if they lose the match in the end, as long as they are the first team to score 2 goals, the bet is a winner. This market usually has 3 lines: one for the home team, one for the away team, one for “neither”.

To Score First or Last

Another straightforward line, betting on which team will score first in a match or even period, or which team will score last.

Player Performance

These bets cover the individual performance of a player and the markets differ from bookmaker to bookmaker. Some common ones would be to bet if a player will score goals, and how many, or if the player will get penalties, and how many. 


You have several options when betting on ice hockey matches. Some of the most popular betting sites are offering ice hockey betting options such as:

To watch Ice Hockey in live streaming you should take a look at the online bookies offering this option, if you are based in The UK you can find this option on these online bookies:

All you have to do is sign up and deposit the minimum amount on your account. You will then get access to ice-hickey (and other sports) in live streaming and in high quality.