The Differences Between Roller & Ice Hockey

There isn’t much better than hockey! I love every aspect of it from playing to watching. Across the world, there are two major types of hockey, ice, and roller! Besides the obvious differences between the two types of skates and playing services, there are several other differences between roller hockey and ice hockey that make them completely different but fun versions of hockey.

There are several gameplay differences that can be noticed in the different versions of the sport. Some of the main differences are…

  • Roller hockey has 4 skaters and a goalie. Ice hockey has 5 skaters and a goalie.
  • Roster sizes are a bit different. A dressed roster for roller hockey is usually 8-12 skaters with 1 or 2 dressed goalies. A dressed roster in ice hockey is 18 skaters with 2 dressed goalies.
  • There are a few different rules too. Roller hockey offers no icing or offsides. So if you feel pressure in the d-zone just dump the puck!
  • A roller hockey game has 2 halves. (IIHF plays 4 quarters). Ice hockey has 3 periods.

These differences create two different styles of games. Ice hockey is very more run and gun with getting the puck out of your defensive zone, through the neutral zone and into the attacking zone very quickly. However, in roller hockey, it is much slower tempo and possession based. You will see teams retreat behind the net to reset or send long passes to a teammate 3/4ths down the rink. These noticeable differences make the game play completely different.

In addition to some of the gameplay differences, there are some cost differences between the two sports. These cost differences tend to make roller, a bit cheaper and here are a few reasons why.

  • Not as much equipment is needed for roller hockey. Most guys don’t wear shoulder pads. Some don’t even wear a girdle. Also, for the few that do, the girdle is a bit cheaper than ice hockey pants / breezers.
  • Because roller doesn’t require any cooling for its surface, the cost to rent the rink is a bit cheaper. Those rink savings are then passed on to leagues or tournaments making it a little cheaper to play Beer League Roller than Beer League Ice. However, if you’re a goalie then you probably get to play for cheap or free no matter what flavor of hockey you play!
  • If you’re a high-end player and you need the best, then roller might help keep you from breaking the bank. Top end skates from smaller manufacturers such as Tour and Alkali aren’t as expensive as CCM or Bauer’s top end skate. However, you’re not getting near the quality of a boot though either to be fair. Also, Alkali and Tour gloves and sticks seem to be a little cheaper. Though again, they might not be as good as the top end from Bauer or CCM.

With not as much equipment needed, and rink time / leagues to be a bit cheaper, some people who are newer to the sport tend to try roller hockey first before going all in. No matter what type of hockey you are playing, I am sure that you’re having a blast!

The last major difference to note is popularity. Roller hockey isn’t as popular as ice hockey. The sport of roller seems to go in spurts, but it is still going strong. However, there are several differences between ice and roller hockey’s popularity:

  • There isn’t a national pro roller hockey league like there is for ice hockey with the NHL. There used to be in the mid / late 90s, but since has folded. There are several small pro roller hockey leagues for players across the US and Europe. Many players that go to Europe, can make a salary, and have their living expenses paid. However, it isn’t near compensation as what the NHL or AHL players would make.
  • The major pro roller hockey events in North America happen during the summer at three major tournaments. These tournaments are, TORHS, NARCH, and StateWars (now known as the Pama Pro Invitational). The tournaments feature some of the top roller hockey guys in North America! In the past, you could even see some pro ice hockey players such as Brandon Bollig, Tom McCollum, and Patrick Maroon playing in them.
  • Both ice and roller have kids programs, but most of the programs for roller compete during the summer.

Despite the differences in popularity, both games are growing. The State Wars Pama Pro tournament now offers a 20k cash prize to the winner and the NHL just welcomed its 31st franchise. It shows that hockey is moving in the right direction!

There isn’t anything much better than playing hockey in any form it comes in! Despite the major differences, both ice hockey and roller hockey are still fun sports.

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