Hockey Lingo and Definitions – Hockey Resource

Here are a few definitions of words or phrases that you might hear or read when hockey is the subject.

  • assist: an assist is a point that is given to a player when he/she passed the puck to the person who scored a goal. There can be at most 2 assists given when a goal is scored. These assists are given to the last 2 players on the offensive team who touched the puck before the person scored a goal.
  • blocker: goaltender’s glove that is shaped like a rectangle. This glove is worn on the hand that holds the hockey stick. (See goaltender equipment section in The game of hockey article)
  • boards: The white half-walls that limit the play area. Usually constructed with plastic.
  • bodycheck: When a player hits another player with his body (usually shoulder) during play.
  • breakaway: when a player is skating with the puck alone against the goaltender. i.e. the player has skated behind the opposing defensemen and there is no opposing player between him/her and the opposing goaltender.
  • catcher, glove, bread basket: goaltender’s glove that catches the puck (like a baseball glove) (See goaltender equipment section in The game of hockey article)
  • centreman: forward player that plays in the middle of the rink and who takes face-offs.
  • change up: other word for line change (see Line change of The game of hockey article)
  • cherry picker: Name given mockingly to a player who is waiting near the offensive zone when the puck is in his defensive zone. The player is not contributing defensively while attempting to gain an advantage offensively.
  • crease: the crease is the blue (or other colour) painted area directly in from of the net. This area is a kind of “safe haven” for the goaltenders. If they are it by a player from the opposing team while in that area, that player receives a goalie interference penalty. The crease also helps the goaltenders to position themselves when facing a shot.
  •  Ice Hockey Goalie Crease line markings
  • cross-over: Crossing the outside leg over the inside leg when executing a turn, enabling the player to accelerate while turning. (When skating backwards the inside leg crosses under the outside leg)
  • deflection: A deflection occurs when a shot is redirected by another player. 
  • face-off: when a linesman or referee drops the puck between two opposing players. It effectively starts or resume the play.
  • face-off circle: area where face-offs are made. (circles that go around the coloured dots) 
  •  Ice Hockey Rink indicating faceoff circles
  • face-off dot: coloured dots (usually red) where the puck is dropped during a face-off.
  •  Ice Hockey Rink indicating location of faceoff dots
  • five-hole: the space between the pads of a goalie (e.g. scoring five-hole = scoring by shooting the puck between the legs of a goaltender)
  • freezing the puck: when the goaltender keeps the puck in his/her glove or covers it, the referee whistles to play dead. This is considered freezing the puck.
  • glass: The upper portion of the limit to the play surface which is composed of glass or plexiglass.
  • goal: a goal is a point for a team in hockey. The team with the most goals (or points) wins the game. A goal is scored by putting the puck into the net. A point is given to the player who scores a goal.
  • goal line: the thin red line in the end of each zone. The net’s posts are sitting on this line and the puck has to completely pass this line in order for a goal to be score.
  •  Ice Hockey Rink indicating location of goal lines
  • goaltender, goalie, netminder: player who’s job is to prevent the puck from entering the net
  • hash mark: the hash marks are marks on the face-off circles in both the offensive and defensive zones (there are no hash marks on the face-off circle in the neutral zone). They are used mainly for the positioning of wingers when the puck is dropped during a face-off.  During a face-off, the players from each team must be on the correct side of the hash marks. The space in the middle of the has mark is “neutral” therefore no player should be in that area. A face-off infraction can be called if the player of one team is in the “neutral” space of the hash mark.
  •  Ice Hockey Rink indicating location of hash marks
  • hat trick: The feat of scoring three goals in a single game. Traditionally followed by one dropping their hat on the ice and skating around it. During NHL games, some fans throw their hats on the ice surface after a player has scored a hat trick.
  • Icing: an infraction where the puck is sent to the opposing side of the ice before crossing the centre red line (see more details the rule of Icing article)
  • linesman: another neutral person on the ice, this one calls icing and offsides and drops the puck for most of the face-offs (except after a goal). In some minor/amateur leagues, the linesmen act as both referee and linesmen.
  • net: the net consists of 3 posts that have netting attached to them. The objective of the game is to put the puck into this net to score a goal. 
  • officials: the referees and linesmen that are on the ice.
  • offside: Infraction where a player enters the offensive zone before the puck (see more details in the Offside rule article)
  • overtime, extra-frame: when the score is tied after 3 periods of play overtime is sometimes played. In hockey overtime is considered “sudden death”. This means that the first goal scored ends the game and the team that scored is declared the winner. A period in overtime (similar to a period in the game) is sometimes referred as an “extra-frame”.
  • pads: The name typically used to describe goaltender leg pads (see Goaltender equipment in The game of hockey article).
  • penalty: a penalty is when a player commits an infraction. (see Penalties article) It results in the player committing the infraction spending a definite amount of time in the penalty box.
  • penalty box: secluded area away from the players bench where the penalized player sits when he/she has committed an infraction.
  • penalty shot: when a player is on a breakaway and is tripped or if an infraction is done to the player on a breakaway, the referee can either call a penalty or a penalty shot. When there is a penalty shot, the players from each team go back to their respective bench and the player that had the breakaway goes to centre ice. The referee puts the puck on the centre ice dot and then goes and places him/herself on the goal line. The referee then whistles and the player at centre ice has a free shot to score on the goaltender. The player cannot shoot more than once and cannot take his rebound. He/she must also move towards the net/end of the zone at all times.
  • player’s bench: sitting area outside of the rink where the players and coaches sit/stand when they are not playing/on the ice.
  • puck: cylindrical piece of hardened rubber that is used to play hockey. It is this piece of hardened rubber that has to go into the net to score a goal. (See general equipment section in The game of hockey article)
  • rebound: when the puck hits the goaltender and comes back into play in front of the net. ex: When the goaltender freezes the puck after it hits him/her, this is considered to be “no rebound”.
  • referee: a referee is a neutral person on the ice that can call penalties and that ensures the game is played following the rules. This person drops the puck at centre ice after a goal.
  • shoot-out: in the NHL regular season as well as some other leagues, after a period of overtime has been played and no team has scored, a shoot-out is needed. A shoot-out is done the same way as a penalty shot except that players from each team alternate shooting on the opposing goaltender. Usually 3 players from each team each take turns to shoot on the opposing goalie. To win a shoot-out, the players from a team must outscore the players from the other team. If after 3 players of each team have had their turn and the score is still equal, then there is a “sudden death” shoot-out. The sudden death shoot-out consists of a player from each team shooting on the opposing goaltender. If the score is still tied after those players have shot, another pair of players have their turn. This is done until one team scores and the other fails to score on the same pair of shooters.
  • slot: area directly in front of the net between the hash marks of both face-off circles
  •  Ice Hockey Rink indicating location of the slot area
  • stick-handling: when a player carries the puck and “dribbles” with the puck (i.e.moves the puck from his/her forehand to his/her backhand and back again). Someone is said to have good stick-handling when he/she has a high dexterity at controlling the puck.
  • visor: a plastic protector mounted on the helmet to protect the player’s eyes.
  • wingers: forward players that play either on the right (right-wing) or left (left-wing) side of the rink.
  • wrap around: the act of a player quickly skating around the back of the net and placing the puck in the net while still behind or beside it.
  • zamboni: machine that sweeps and resurfaces the ice. It scrapes the ice and then puts water on it. Resurfacing the ice is done between periods in the NHL, International Hockey and most competitive leagues. For amateur leagues, it is done only between games.






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