Hockey players try to get an advantage on their opponents in anyway possible. They are always pushing the edges in learning new skills, bending the rules, and trying to get under their opponents skin. One way a player tries to get under an opponents skin (especially the goalies) is by snowing him.
What does it mean to snow someone in hockey? Snowing happens usually to a goalie and involves a player stopping quickly in front of a goalie to create a pile of snow that will fly up into his face while he is down on the ice covering a puck. This tactic is harmless to the goalie, but is an annoyance and can be called as an unsportsmanlike penalty if the referee deems that it was intentional.Embed from Getty Images
There are times when a forward or defensemen who are on the ice could get snowed by another player, but 99% of the time the player that gets snowed will be the goalie.
The goalie is essentially in a helpless position when he goes down on the ice to cover a puck, and this is the time that a player will take advantage of the situation to snow him.
Now, being snowed as a goalie is harmless. In fact, it can actually be quite refreshing. However, the players on the team do not like an opponent doing anything to the goalie to throw (or try to throw) them off their game.
If a goalie gets snowed, you will usually see a bunch of pushing and shoving after the whistle as the players will stick up for the goalie that just got the snow job.
What does a player have to do to snow the goalie?
Basically, they need to do a hard quick stop in front of the goalie to cause a pile of snow to be flung up to his face.
Here is what you do in more detail.
When a player stops on his skates the basic technique is to turn your skates to the side and apply pressure to the blades of your skates. The blades of the player’s hockey skates are sharp and as they turn sideways they shave off the ice (or snow) as the friction between the blade and ice causes the player to stop.
If a player is skating fast and they quickly turn their skates to the side and puts a lot of force onto the blade this will cause a large amount of snow to come off the ice and project forwards.
Players are clever, and it probably did not take long until they realized this can be used to get under the skin of their opponents.
Is snowing a goalie a penalty in hockey?
If the referee determines that a player has intentional snowed a goalie then it will be called as an unsportsmanlike penalty, which is a 2 minute minor penalty.
When would it be considered intentional?
A lot of times the puck will come to the goalie with the opposition quite a far distance away. The goalie is not under that much pressure but is still well within the rules to drop to his knees and cover the puck for a whistle.
It is during these times when an opponent has no chance at getting the puck from the goalie, and the goalie has already covered the puck that he will skate in and snow the goalie just because he can. This is deemed intentional because for all intense purposes the play was going to be whistled down, but the player snowed the goalie anyway.
If the play had been whistled down, and the goalie was snowed there is not much room for subjectivity in that call and would almost certainly be called for an unsportsmanlike penalty.
When would it not be considered intentional to snow the goalie?
Players are always coached to take the puck to the net, and charge hard at the net. As they charge towards the net the goalie will often stop the puck when they are moving fast and very close to the goalie. The only choice they have is to either stop quickly or run into the goalie. As they stop quickly and try to avoid hitting the goalie, there are times when the goalie will inevitably get snowed.
100% of goalies will say that they would way rather be snowed then have someone plow into them. Some goalies even say that getting snowed is refreshing! Playing goalie in all that equipment is hot, hot, hot. It is always nice to receive a cool down during the game.
What the referees and the NHL are trying to eliminate the player who is simply being a jerk by snowing the goalie when they are essentially helpless as they cover the puck.