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Hockey Terms

Welcome to our hockey terms page where you'll find a thorough glossary of common words, lingo, jargon and definitions of things you may hear associated with an NHL game and/or in online hockey forum. If we've missed some, please feel free to let us know by dropping us an email. Enjoy!

ASSIST: Point given to offensive player for setting up a goal; the last two touches before the puck is shot in the goal are considered assists.

BACK CHECK: Getting the puck away from another player "from behind" when that player is headed towards the offensive zone.

BREAK AWAY: When there is no defensive player between the shooter and the goalie.

BODY CHECK: Body to body contact made by the defensive player to get the puck away from the offensive player.

BANKROLL: The amount of money a player has stored away for betting ice hockey.

BET: The amount of money wagered during a player’s action.

BOARDING: The act of hitting a player from behind into the boards. This can result in a 2 or 5-minute penalty depending on the severity of the hit.

BACK PASS: A pass made towards the offensive teams own goal. Usually done to kill time or create a change on the ice of players.

BLIND PASS: A pass made without looking.

BOARDS: They walls that surround the ice surface.

BLUE LINES: They mark the entry points into the offensive zones.

BUTT ENDS: Refers to being hit with the non-shooting end of the hockey stick.

CHARGING: A 2-minute penalty for taking more than two strides to body check another player.

CHECKING: The attempt to remove the puck from another player; has various forms.

COVERING THE PUCK:. If a player closes his hand over the puck if done in the crease it’s a penalty.

CREASE: The blue shaded ice in front of the goal line. Players cannot enter the crease without the puck.

CROSS CHECKING: A 2-minute penalty for hitting another player with your stick while holding it horizontal in both hands.

CROSS BAR: The horizontal bar across the top of the goal.

DIVING: A 2-minute penalty for embellishing the severity of contact from another player.

ELBOWING: A 2-minute penalty for hitting another player with the elbow, usually only called when the blow is to the head.

EMPTY NET: When the goalie leaves the ice for an extra offensive skater the net is empty. Typically happens at the end of a game or when a penalty is being called on the other team. At the end of a game a team maybe pressing to score the tying goal, when a penalty is called once the offending team gains control of the puck the play is blown dead.

ENFORCER: A player that is better known for his fighting skills and is primarily used to protect the more skilled players, this player is often referred to as a goon.

FACE OFF: In order to commence play a face off occurs. The ref drops the puck between two players to try gaining control by sliding the puck backwards to a teammate.

FIVE HOLE: The spot between the goalies legs. Shooters will try and send the puck in that direction to score goals.

FIGHTING: A 5-minute penalty when players drop the gloves and exchange blows.

FORECHECKING: A strategy that is employed when one team is trying to advance the puck, one or two players are sent forward to pressure the team trying to move out of their own zone.

FREEZING THE PUCK: By trapping the puck with equipment along the boards or on the ice to halt play; the Puck is being frozen.

HAT TRICK: When a single player scores three or more goals in a game, they have scored a hat trick. A Gordie Howe hat trick is when a player scores a goal, gets an assist and has a fight. Funny enough Gordie only did this once in his career but will be immortalized as the rough and tumble player he was forever by this term.

HIGHSTICKING: A 2-minute penalty for hitting a player above the shoulders with your stick, an additional 2 minutes can be assessed if a player is cut by a high stick.

HOLDING: A 2-minute penalty when a player grabs hold of another player who is trying to advance the puck. This penalty is usually called in open ice and when one player takes his hand off his stick.

HOOKING: A 2 minute penalty similar to Holding but is called when a player uses his stick from behind to pull back another player who is trying to pull away with the puck.

ICING: This occurs when the puck is shot to one end of the ice from the opposite side of center. A defensive player must retreat and touch the puck in their own zone once it has crossed the red line. If the goalie handles the puck or the defensive player is to slow in retrieving the puck, icing can be waved off by the linesman.

INTERFERENCE: A 2-minute penalty is called when one player impedes another player from getting to the puck by standing still in front of them.

MAJOR PENALTY: This is the term applied to 5-minute penalties. 5 Minute Majors are usually offsetting and must be served in full. If a goal is scored during a 5 minute major the penalty continues to be served.

MINOR PENALTY: This is the term applied to a 2-minute penalty. 2-minute minors are usually given to one player. These penalties end if a power play goal is scored.

MISCONDUCT PENALTY: If the foul being assessed was extreme, the referee may assess an additional 10-minute misconduct that could lead to further disciplinary action by the NHL.

NEUTRAL ZONE: The area of ice in the center of the rink between the two blue lines.

OFFSIDE: If a player enters the offensive zone before the puck they are offside and the play is blown dead.

ON THE FLY: In the NHL players substitute positions while play is on going.

OVERTIME: In the regular season, overtime consists of a short 5 minute period that is played 4 on 4. If the score is still tied after the 5 minutes, the teams then have a shootout. Best two out of three wins the shoot out. In the playoffs overtime is played in sudden death format 5 on 5 with full 20-minute periods.

PENALTY SHOT: For certain infractions like closing your hand on the puck in the crease or tripping a player on a clear cut breakaway, a penalty shot is awarded. This is a one on one contest between a shooter and goalie.

PENALTY KILL: If a penalty time period (2 or 5 minutes) is successfully defended, the defensive team is said to have killed off the penalty.

PENALTY BOX: The Area players must sit to serve the duration of their penalty time. Also referred to as the “Sin Bin”.

POKE CHECK: A move made by the goalie with his stick to poke the puck away from an offensive player.

POINT: When in the offensive zone, the defensemen usually positions themselves just inside the blue lines. This position is called the point.

POWER PLAY: Occurs when a penalty is assessed to one of the teams and there is an imbalance of skaters on the ice. For example a 5 on 4 is considered a power play.

PULLING THE GOALIE: If a team is losing by a goal late in the game, one tactic is to pull the goalie and put him on the bench to allow another offensive skater thus increasing their odds of scoring. However there is risk because there is no dedicated net defender. The other team can easily score if given enough room to shoot the puck.

PLUS MINUS: A stat that compares how many goals are scored for and against when a player is on the ice.

PIM’s: An acronym for “penalty minutes”.

ROUGHING: A 2-minute minor penalty usually assessed when players rough each other up after the whistle but without dropping their gloves.

SHORTHANDED: When a team is killing a penalty they are shorthanded.

SOG: Acronym for shot on goal.

SLASHING: A 2-minute penalty for a two handed chop with a stick on a player or the other player’s stick.

SPEARING: A 2-minute penalty for jabbing your stick into another player.

THE SLOT: The area directly in front of the goal between the two face off circles.

TRIPPING: A 2-minute penalty for tripping another player with your leg or stick.

TRAP: A defensive system applied by lessrt skilled teams in order to slow fast teams down. The system typically clogs the neutral ice with four players while sending one player in to fore check the defense trying to move the puck out.

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