Hockey has a language all its own, and oh how I wish someone had brought me up to speed on hockey lingo before my son started playing. It would have helped me to avoid a few embarrassing moments. Well, maybe more than a few. Like the time I took great offense when a mom said my son was ragging. The time I raised my eyebrows when one of our players was called a cherry picker. Cherry picker? What the heck is that? And why in the world would my kid want to shoot a puck upstairs? I've got windows to protect! To help other new moms avoid those red faced moments, I offer a crash course glossary so you can sharpen your hockey language skills, show off those chicklets and tell your kid it was sweet when they put the biscuit in the basket!
Attacking zone When you are on the attack, your attacking zone is between your opponent's blue line and goal line.
Back check Forwards in their offensive zone skate back quickly to their own defensive zone to protect their goal and keep the opponent from shooting.
Basket - the net
Biscuit - the puck
Blocker For the goalie, the glove that goes on the hand that holds the stick.
Blue line Two lines running across the width of the rink, one on either side of the red line. The area between the blue lines is called the neutral zone.
Boarding Violently checking an opponent into the boards from behind. Boarding is illegal and merits a penalty.
Body check A body check is where you use your body against an opponent who has possession of the puck. Legal body checking must be done only with the hips or shoulders and must be above the opponent's knees and below the neck. Unnecessarily rough body checking is penalized.
Box A defensive alignment (similar to the diamond) often used by a team defending against a power play.
Breakaway A player in control of the puck has a breakaway when the only opponent between him and the opposition's goal is the goalie (and a reasonable scoring opportunity exists).
Breakout The play used by the attacking team to move the puck out of its own zone and up the ice toward the opponent's goal.
Butt ending Using the shaft of the stick to jab or attempt to jab an opposing player. Known in Quebec as "donner six pouces" (to give six inches).
Catcher For the goalie, this is a glove (which looks like a fancy first-baseman's mitt) that goes on the non-stick hand.
Center In a traditional alignment with three forwards, the center plays between the left and right wings.
Changing on the fly When players from the bench substitute for players on the ice, while the clock is running.
Charging Taking more than three strides before deliberately checking an opponent.
Clearing the puck When the puck is passed, knocked, or shot away from the front of the goal net or other area.
Crease The semi-circular area in front of each goal is called the crease. If any offensive player is in the goal crease when a goal is scored, the goal is not allowed. The crease is painted blue. The goal crease is designed to protect the goalies from interference by attacking players. The area marked on the ice in front of the penalty timekeeper's seat is for the use of the referee.
Cross checking Hitting an opponent with the shaft of the stick while both hands are on the stick and no part of the stick is on the ice.
Defensive zone When the other team is on the attack, the defensive zone is the area between your goal line and your blue line.
Deke A deke is a fake by a player in possession of the puck in order to get around an opponent or to make a goalie move out of position. To deke, you move the puck or a part of your body to one side and then in the opposite direction. ("Deke" is taken from "decoy.")
Delay of game This is called when a player purposely delays the game. Delay of game is commonly called when a goalie shoots the puck into the stands without the puck deflecting off a skater or the glass. Delay of game also occurs when a player intentionally knocks a goalpost out of its stand (usually in an attempt to prevent a goal from being scored).
Delayed off-side In this situation, an attacking player has preceded the puck into the offensive zone (normally a case for off-side), but the defending team has gained possession of the puck and can bring it out of their defensive zone without any delay or contact with an opposing player.
Diamond A defensive alignment (similar to the box) often used by a team defending against a power play.
Dig An attempt to gain possession of the puck in the corners of the rink.
Directing the puck Changing the course of the puck in a desired direction by using the body, skate, or stick.
Dive When a player exaggerates being hooked or tripped in an attempt to draw a penalty.
Double Shifting When an elite player stays on the ice for double duty to give his team an added lift. This is common when a team is down a goal late in the game.
Dump and Chase: A style of hockey where a team shoots the puck into one of the corners of the offensive zone and then pursues it. This is opposed to carrying the puck into the zone.
Elbowing Using the elbow to impede or disrupt the opponent.
Empty net goal A goal scored against an opponent that has pulled the goalie.
Enforcer Typically the player on the team with the most penalty minutes is called upon to protect his teammates when they are pushed around.
Face Wash To rub one’s gloves in the face of another player. Most players don’t appreciate this
Five-hole The area in the opening between a goalie's leg pads.
Flat pass A pass where the puck remains on the surface of the ice.
Flex Hockey sticks come in different degrees of flex - medium, stiff, and extra stiff. A stronger player, who hits more powerful shots, usually wants a stiffer stick.
Flip pass A pass where the puck is lifted so that it goes over an opponent or his stick.
Forecheck Forwards forecheck by hurrying into the opponent's defensive zone to either keep the puck there or take it away.
Forward The center and the wings are traditionally considered to be the forwards.
Freezing the puck A player freezes the puck by holding it against the boards with the stick or skates. A goalie freezes the puck (when the opposition is threatening to score) by either holding the puck in the glove or trapping it on the ice. Note: A delay-of-game penalty can be called if the goalie freezes the puck when the opposition is not threatening.
Garbage Goal A goal that takes little talent to score. Most such goals are scored from right in front of the net, often when the goaltender is out of position
Gordie Howe Hat Trick: When a player scores a goal, gets an assist and gets into a fight all in the same game.
Grinder: A tough, hard-nosed player who does what it takes to get the job done. To be referred to as a grinder would be considered a compliment.GP An abbreviation for "games played."
Hat trick A player who scores three goals in one game achieves a "hat trick."
Head butting Using the head while delivering a body check (head first) in the chest, head, neck, or back area; or using the head to strike an opponent.
Headmanning When a player passes the puck ahead to a teammate.
Heel of the stick The point where the shaft of the stick and the bottom of the blade meet.
High sticking Carrying the stick above the shoulder to use against the opponent.
Holding Using your hands on an opponent or the opponent's equipment to impede your opponent's progress.
Hooking Applying the blade of the stick to any part of an opponent's body or stick and pulling or tugging with the stick in order to disrupt that opponent.
Icing An infraction called when a player shoots the puck from his side of the red line across the opponent's goal line. Play is stopped when an opponent (other than the goalie) touches the puck. The face-off is held in the offending team's end of the ice. A team that is shorthanded can ice the puck without being penalized.
Interference Making body contact with an opponent who does not have possession of the puck. Interference is also called when a player is standing in the crease or otherwise makes contact with the goaltender.
Kneeing Using the knee in an effort to impede or foul an opponent.
Linesman Two linesmen are used to call offside, offside passes, icing, and handle all face-offs not occurring at center ice. Although they don't call penalties, they can recommend to the referee that a penalty be called.
Lumber Hockey Stick
Man Advantage A team with one or more players on the ice than the opposing team due to a penalty. The team is also on a powerplay.
Man On: When a player is chasing a loose puck and has his back to the rest of the ice his coaches and team mates will yell "Man On" if an opposing player is in close pursuit.
Mustard: Mustard is when a player puts all his effort into a shot.
Natural Hat Trick: Scoring 3 goals in a row or 3 in the same period. A very rare occurrence in the NHL.
Neutral zone trap: The neutral zone trap is a defensive ice hockey strategy used by a team to prevent an opposing team from proceeding through the neutral zone (the area between both blue lines) by forcing turnovers in that area.
Neutral zone The central ice area between the two blue lines (neither the defending nor the attacking zone).
Odd-Man Rush Usually either a two-on-one, or three-on-two into the offensive zone which more often than not leads to a scoring opportunity.
"The Original Six": Term for the NHL’s six senior franchises; The New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadians, and Chicago Blackhawks.
Offside A team is offside when a player crosses the attacking blue line before the puck does. A face-off then takes place just outside that blue line (in the offending player's defensive zone). The determining factor in most offside situations is the position of the skates: Both skates must be completely over the blue line ahead of the puck for the play to be offside.
Offside pass An offside pass (also known as a "two-line" pass) occurs when a member of the attacking team passes the puck from behind his own defending blue line to a teammate across the center red line. If the puck precedes the player across the red line, the pass is legal. Also, an attacking player may pass the puck over the center red line and the attacking blue line to a teammate if the puck precedes that teammate across the blue line. The face-off after an offside pass takes place at the spot where the pass originated.
One-timer Shooting the puck immediately upon receiving it without stopping it first. A one-timer is an effective way to beat the goalie before he can slide from one side of the crease to another.
Penalty A penalty is the result of an infraction of the rules by a player or team official. A penalty usually results in the removal of the offending player (or team official) for a specified period of time. In some cases, the penalty may be the awarding of a penalty shot on goal or the actual awarding of a goal.
Penalty killing When a team is shorthanded and attempts to prevent the opposition from scoring, this activity is known as "penalty killing."
Penalty-killing unit The group of players brought in by a shorthanded team in order to defend against a power play.
Penalty shot A penalty shot is awarded to an offensive player who - on a breakaway - is illegally checked or impeded. The puck is placed at the center face-off spot, and the player has a free try at the opposing goal with no other defenders on the ice besides the goalie.
PIM An abbreviation for "penalties in minutes" (penalty minutes accumulated).
Pinch Defensemen usually hang out at their team's blue line, but A "pinching" defensemen will leave his post and push further into the offensive zone in order to support the forwards and keep the puck in the zone.
Playoff beard:A playoff beard is the superstitious practice of a National Hockey League (NHL) player not shaving his beard during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Poke check Trying to knock the puck away from an opponent by stabbing at it with the blade of the stick.
Pipe The pipe is the goalpost, and if you hit a puck "between the pipes" you score a goal!
Point The point is the area just inside the opposition's blue line close to the boards on either side of the rink. A defenseman usually occupies this area when his team is in control of the puck in the opposition's defensive zone.
Poke check Trying to knock the puck away from an opponent by stabbing at it with the blade of the stick.
Possession of the puck The last player or goalie to make contact with the puck is the one who has possession. This definition includes a puck that is deflected off a player or any part of his equipment.
Power play When a team has more players on the ice than the opposition due to one or more penalties against the opposing team.
Pulling of the goalie A team that is losing will sometimes take their own goalie off the ice and use another forward. This situation occurs most frequently near the end of the game when a team is behind and needs some emergency offense.
Ragging Maintaining control of the puck in order to kill time, usually while one's team is shorthanded or, on rare occasions, when a team is up by a goal late in a game.
Red line The line that divides the rink into two equal parts. This area is center ice.
Referee The referee supervises the game, calls the penalties, determines if goals are scored, and handles face-offs at center ice at the start of each period and after goals. The referee has the final decision over all other officials.
Roughing Engaging in fisticuffs (fighting) or shoving.
Save A shot blocked by the goalie - a shot that otherwise would have gone into the net!
Shadow When a player covers an opponent one-on-one everywhere on the ice in order to limit the effectiveness of this opponent.
Shoot-out Some minor and international leagues refine the overtime situation by having their teams play a five-minute sudden death period, and if no one scores, the game is decided by a shoot-out. Each team picks five players, and each one of them takes a penalty shot on the other team's goalie, skating in by themselves with the puck from center ice and trying to score. Whichever team scores more wins.
Shorthanded A shorthanded team is below the numerical strength of its opponents on the ice. When a goal is scored against a shorthanded team, the penalty that caused the team scored against to be shorthanded is terminated, and both teams are again at equal strength.
Sieve Slang term for a goalie that gives up a lot of goals and appears to have a lot of holes. Think spaghetti strainer.
Sin Bin Where a player goes after he is called for a penalty. Also simply known as the penalty box.
Slot: The prime scoring area up the middle of the ice, between the face-off circles in the attack zone. This is where you will find “snipers” like Brendan Shanahan.
Sniper A player who is a pure goal scorer that is always able to find open space to get his shot off.
Slashing When a player swings the stick at an opponent. Slashing merits a penalty, whether contact is made or not. Tapping an opponent's stick not slashing.
Smothering the puck When a goalie or other players fall on the puck. Smothering is legal when done by the goalie or accidentally by another player.
Spearing Poking or attempting to poke an opponent with the tip of the blade of the stick while holding the stick with one or both hands.
Spin 'o' Rama: Phrase to describe a player completing a tight circle with the puck fully under control in an effort to get by a defender.
Splitting the defense: When a player in possession of the puck goes between two opposing defenders while attacking.
Stack the pads: A save wherein the goaltender drops to one side and makes the save with his leg pads stacked on top of one another.Standing on his head: When a goaltender is playing great, stopping everything sent his way and making outstanding saves, he is said to be “standing on his head”.
Stay at home defenseman: This type of player never misses a defensive assignment. You will never find him stuck out of position in the offensive zone. The true definition of a “Defensive Defenseman”.
Stoned: A great save by the goalie will have the announcer say, “He stoned him from point blank range.”
Sweater The term used to designate a hockey jersey.
Sweep check Using the entire length of the stick with a sweeping motion along the surface off the ice in order to dislodge the puck from an opponent. A team that is shorthanded on a power play often employs a sweep check.
Tape-To-Tape: Adjective describing a perfect pass. The centers of the blades of hockey sticks are usually wrapped in black tape.
Tic-Tac-Toe: Three tape-to-tape passes that lead to a goal. Tic-tac-toe goals are usually scored on odd-man rushes or power plays, because opponents don't have enough defenders to break up passes.
Toe drag: Dragging the puck along the ice with the end (toe) of the stick blade on the ice as opposed to the bottom
Trap Traps are defensive formations designed to minimize the opposition's scoring opportunities and keep its offense from functioning. The idea is to trap the puck in the neutral zone, halting the opponents and regaining control of the puck.
Tripping Using a stick, arm, or leg to cause an opponent to trip or fall.
Turnover Just as in basketball or in football, you can make a turnover in hockey by losing control of the puck to the opposing team.
Two-line pass An offside pass (that actually crosses two lines).
Two-Way Center A center that has equal value in his offensive and defensive zone. Mark Messier was the ultimate “two-way center”.
Upstairs The upper portion of the net. Also known as the "top shelf"
Wings The left wing and the right wing (also known as forwards) move up and down the sides of the rink. Offensively, they skate on each side of the center, exchanging passes with him, while trying themselves for a shot on goal and/or a rebound of a shot from the point. Defensively, they watch the opponent's wings.
Wraparound A player skates behind the opposing goal and attempts to wrap the puck around the goal post and into the net.
Wrist shot A wrist shot is used to shoot the puck off the blade of the stick with a flicking motion of the wrist.