The Difference Between Blades and Blades



Hockey is a sport of finesse, toughness, and speed all wrapped up by player talent. Hockey can be played on any surface, though ice and hard rubber "roller turf" are the two major fields currently played on by professionals. All though to some these two variations on hockey may seem the same, they actually have many differences. Roller hockey contrasts that of ice in several ways. While the playing surfaces are the most obvious difference, number of players, periods, and skates also vary.
The most obvious difference between the two sports is their playing surfaces. Ice hockey is played on a three inch layer of ice cooled to approximately ten degrees Fahrenheit. Roller hockey is played on a two inch layer of a plastic and rubber composite compound. Both types have specific advantages and disadvantages. Roller "turf" almost never needs any repairs while ice must be resurfaced between every period. Ice is generally known for being a faster surface but a good argument to that is the fact that the players and equipment have more to do with speed than the surface.
Hockey would not be hockey without the players. The NHL is famous for its five on five play. Roller hockey, on the other hand, is four on four. Strategically in ice hockey two players stay primarily on defense while the other three are sent forward for offense. Roller hockey, however, with only two forwards for offense, one of the two defense-men must move up to join the attack in order for teams to have an effective attack. While causing a minor headache to defensive players, having four players on the floor allows more open ice to skate and make plays in. This too has a downfall though, four players doing the work of five can be tiresome to players leading to the need for shorter periods.
Ice hockey by league standards consists of three-twenty minute with a fifteen minute intermission after the first and second periods. Roller hockey plays four-fifteen minute periods. The first and second periods are separated by only a five minute break, the second and third by a fifteen minute intermission, and finally the third and fourth by another five minute break. Overtime periods are also different. Overtime in ice hockey is five minutes long. If neither team scores a goal in these five minutes, the game is declared a tie. Roller hockey has a similar five minute overtime period, but if the tie still remains unresolved, the teams participate in a shoot out to determine a winner.
With all these apparent differences between the two versions of hockey, new fans tend to miss one of the most subtle, but important, differences. Equipment is a major part in every sport, roller and ice hockey are no exceptions. Roller hockey players skate with roller blades while ice hockey players skate on lightweight steel or aluminum blades. Roller hockey "blades" consist of an aluminum chassis and four light weight plastic and rubber wheels while ice skates are a sharpened blade designed to temporarily melt the ice in order for them to glide smoothly over the ice surface.
Ice and roller hockey are different in these few ways, but many fans seem to shy away from roller hockey because they don\'t understand that even with all the differences, the game and most of its rules still remain intact. Some fans, like myself, feel that roller hockey lacks the true strategy of ice hockey. Fans shouldn\'t be put out by this because any lack of "strategy" is equally made up by the greater speed and scoring seen in roller hockey. Fans that love high scoring games seem to be very attracted to roller hockey while more traditional "old time" hockey fans prefer the standard five on five hockey versus the four on four antics presented in roller hockey. I personally play roller hockey because of the speed but prefer to watch ice because of the talent. Fans looking for a nice change of pace from just ice hockey should invest some time and money into watching and even playing roller hockey, and the same goes for mainstream roller hockey fans.



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