An infraction where a player is preventing another player from getting to or playing the puck, or is illegally blocking a player's way to the puck. Interference is called in nearly every circumstance where a player not in possession of the puck is stopped, regardless of the method used to stop that player. Interference most often results in a minor penalty, but can also be given as a major or match penalty depending on the severity of the violence involved in the act of interference.
Interference is one the most common penalties in hockey and it is usually given to defensemen who are trying to stop attacking players from speeding past them to get to the puck behind them. Once the attacking player has gone past the defenseman, he must let him continue his route or an interference penalty will be called. However, defensemen can legally block or check an attacking opponent, even if the opponent does not have possession of the puck, only if the defender is moving in the same direction as his opponent.
An interference penalty usually does not involve violence or violent acts. Most of the time, the guilty player either holds, body checks or illegally stands in his opponent's way. Violent interference penalties usually result in the guilty player injuring his opponent. A famous incident of violent interference happened in March 2011 between Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. When Pacioretty got the puck past Chara and continued to chase it, Chara interfered with Pacioretty in a play that resulted in Pacioretty's head colliding with a stanchion. As a result of the play, Pacioretty fractured a vertebrae and Chara received a match penalty for interference.