There are three styles of gloves worn by hockey players. Skaters wear similar gloves on each hand, while goaltenders wear gloves of different types on each hand.
Skaters' gloves are designed to protect the players' hands from pucks, sticks, and skates. They do not play any role in the performance or play of the game. A skater may push a puck forward with his glove when in his defensive zone. A skater may also use his glove to bat down an airborne puck. However, if a skater catches or otherwise closes his glove about the puck, the skater may be penalized with a minor penalty. When fighting, skaters almost always drop their gloves to the ice and fight with bare fists.
Goaltenders wear a different type of glove on each hand. While these gloves do offer the goaltender a measure of protection, their design is to aid the goaltender in performance of his duties. On the hand with which he carries his stick, often called the "stick hand," the goaltender wears a blocker with a large pad across the back of the forearm, usually extending just beyond the elbow. National Hockey League rules mandate that the blocking glove may be no wider than eight inches and no longer than fifteen. The goaltender uses this glove to deflect shots.
On the other hand, often called the "glove hand", the goaltender wears a catching glove, similar to a baseball glove. In addition to using it to catch shots, goaltenders can distribute caught pucks by tossing them from the catching glove. NHL rules limit the perimeter of the catching glove to forty-five inches and the widest part of the glove may not exceed eighteen inches.