Hockey Terms and Rules

Hockey Terms and Rules



Any physical interaction between two or more opposing players that results in a penalty (or penalties) being assessed.

An assist is awarded to the player or players (maximum of two) who touched the puck prior to the goal, provided no defender plays or possesses the puck in between.

Attacking Zone
When you are on the attack, your attacking zone is between your opponent’s blue line and goal line.

Forwards in their offensive zone skate back quickly to their own defensive zone to protect their goal and keep the opponent from shooting.

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.

Violently checking an opponent into the boards from behind. Boarding is illegal and merits a penalty.

The wall around a hockey rink (which was at one time really made of wood but which is now usually of fiberglass) measuring about 42 inches high and topped off by the synthetic glass to protect the spectators while giving them a good view of the action.

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.

A defensive alignment (similar to the diamond) often used by a team defending against a power play.

An offensive rush when there is no opponent between the puck carrier and the opposition’s goalie.

When the attacking team comes out of its defensive zone with the puck and starts up ice.

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).

For the goalie, this is a glove (which looks like a fancy first baseman’s mitt) that goes on the non-stick hand.

In a traditional alignment with three forwards, the center plays between the left and right wings.

Changing on the Fly
When players on the ice switch with fresh players on the bench while the game is going on.

Clearing the Puck
When the puck is passed, knocked, or shot away from the front of the goal net or another area.

The 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.Crease

Defensive Zone
When the other team is on the attack, the defensive zone is the area between your goal line and your blue line.

Two defensemen usually try to stop the opponent’s play at their own blue line. The defensemen block shots and also clear the puck from in front of their goal. Offensively, defensemen take the puck up the ice or pass the puck ahead to the forwards; they then follow the play into the attacking zone and help keep it there.

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.

A defensive alignment (similar to the box) often used by a team defending against a power play.

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.

When a player exaggerates being hooked or tripped in an attempt to draw a penalty.

Drop Pass
A sometimes dangerous play in which a puck carrier leaves the puck behind him to be picked up by a trailing teammate. When employed successfully, the puck carrier acts as a screen to give the teammate a clear path with the puck.

Empty Net Goal
A goal scored against an opponent that has pulled the goalie.

The dropping of the puck between one player from each team to start or resume play.

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. A.K.A. Saucer Pass

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.

Forwards forecheck by hurrying into the opponent’s defensive zone to either keep the puck there or take it away.

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.

Game Played (GP)
A player receives credit for playing in a game if i) he steps on the ice during time played or; ii) serves any penalty.

Game-Winning Goal (GWG)
After the final score has been determined, the goal which leaves the winning Club one goal ahead of its opponent is the game-winning goal (example: if Team A beats Team B 8-3, the player scoring the fourth goal for Team A receives credit for the game-winning goal).

Game Tying Goal (GTG)
The final goal scored in a tie game.

A goal is achieved when the entire puck crosses the goal line and enters the net. You can’t deliberately kick it in or bat it in with a glove, although a goal is counted when a puck deflects off a player (but not off an official). A goal is worth one point.

Goal Line 
The red line which runs between the goal posts and extends in both directions to the side boards.

The goaltender’s main job is to keep the puck from entering the goal net. The goaltender is also known as the goalie, the goalkeeper, or the netminder.

Goals Against Average (GAA) 
Multiply goals allowed (GA) by 60 and divide by minutes played (MINS).

Goaltender Win/Loss/Tie
A goaltender receives a win, tie or loss if he is on the ice when either the game-winning or game-tying goal is scored.

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.

Heel of the stick
The point where the shaft of the stick and the bottom of the blade meet.

Icing is called when a player behind the red line in his end of the rink shoots a puck past the goal line in his offensive zone when both teams are playing at even strength. The play is stopped when an opponent other than the goalie touches the puck. Icing is considered an infraction because it can be used by teams to take away legitimate scoring chances from skaters on the offensive.

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.

Neutral zone
The central ice area between the two blue lines (neither the defending nor the attacking zone).

A player may not skate into his offensive zone ahead of the puck. If that happens, a whistle is blown, and a face-off is held just outside the zone where the breach-offside- occurred. What matters in an offside is the position of the skates: Both skates must be all the way over the blue line for a player to be potentially off-side. The location of the stick does not matter. Offside is also called if a player makes what is called a two-line pass.

Offside is called to keep players from hanging around the red line at center ice, or all the way down in their offensive zone, and waiting for a pass that will give them a breakaway (skating toward the goal with no defenders around except for the goalie) and an easy chance at a goal.

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.

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.

Penalties in Minutes (PIM):
An accumulation of penalties shown in minutes.

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 Box 
The area opposite the team benches where penalized players serve time.

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 Killing Percentage (PK%)
Subtract total number of power-play goals allowed from total number of shorthanded situations to get total number of power-plays killed. Divide the total number of power-plays killed by the total number of shorthanded situations.

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.

The pipe is the goalpost, and if you hit a puck “between the pipes” you score a goal!

Plus-Minus (+/-)
A player receives a “plus” if he is on the ice when his Club scores an even-strength or shorthand goal. He receives a “minus” if he is on the ice for an even-strength or shorthand goal scored by the opposing Club. The difference in these numbers is considered the player’s plus-minus statistic.

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
To dislodge the puck from the puck carrier 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 Goal (PPG)
A goal scored by a Club while it has a manpower advantage due to an opponent’s penalty. Following are some examples of what is and is not considered a power-play goal:

  • If a Club has an advantage on a minor penalty starting at 2:02 of the period and it scores at 4:02, the goal is not a power-play goal.
  • If a Club scores on a delayed penalty, the goal is not a power-play goal.

  • If a Club has an advantage due to a five-minute major or match penalty, that Club is always credited with having one more advantage than the number of power-play goals it scores during that advantage, because the penalty does not expire a new advantage begins after such a power-play goal. For example, if Team A scores three goals during a major penalty, it is credited with four advantages.

  • If a Club is on a power-play for any length of time it considered to have had an advantage.

  • If a minor penalty is incurred by a Club on a power-play due to a major penalty, a new advantage is given to that Club when its minor penalty expires, provided the opponent’s major penalty is still in effect.

Power Play Percentage (PP%)
Total number of power-play goals divided by total number of power-play opportunities.

Pulling the Goalie
Replacing the goalie with an extra skater. This occurs when a team trails, usually by one goal in the last minute of the game. It is a high-risk attempt to tie the game.

Red Line
The line that divides the rink into two equal parts. This area is center ice.

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.

A shot blocked by the goaltender, which would have been a goal if not stopped.

Save Percentage (Sv%)
Subtract goals allowed (GA) from shots against (SA) to determine saves. Then divide saves by shots against.

When a player covers an opponent one-on-one everywhere on the ice in order to limit the effectiveness of this opponent.

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.

Shooting Percentage
Divide the number of goals scored by the number of shots taken.

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.

Shorthanded Goal (SHG) 
A goal scored by a Club while it is at a manpower disadvantage due to a penalty. The same cases apply in a similar but opposite way for shorthand as for power-play goals.

Shot on Goal (SOG) 
If a player shoots the puck with the intention of scoring and if that shot would have gone in the net had the goaltender not stopped it, the shot is recorded as a “shot on goal”.

Shutout (SO) 
If two goaltenders combine for a shutout, neither receives credit for the shutout. Instead it is recorded as a Club shutout.

Slap Shot 
Hitting the puck with the blade of the stick after taking a full backswing.

The area immediately in front of the net between the two face-off circles, extending from the bottom of the circles up to the top of them. It is from this zone that most goals are scored and where most furious activity takes place.

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.

A player who is a pure goal scorer and who doesn’t hit other players or the boards all that much.

Splitting the Defense
When a player in possession of the puck goes between two opposing defenders while attacking.

A term for carrying the puck along the ice with the stick.

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.

Team Official
A person responsible for the operation of a team, such as a coach, manager, or trainer.

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.

Just as in basketball or in football, you can make a turnover in hockey by losing control of the puck to the opposing team.

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.

Wrist Shot 
Hitting the puck with the blade of the stick using a quick snap of the wrist rather than a full back swing.

The vehicle used to prepare the rink’s ice surface before the game and after each period. The Zamboni scrapes a thin layer off the ice, heats the ice, and puts down a fresh layer of heated water that freezes to form a new layer of ice.

Hockey Slang

Below are some slang terms referencing hockey that you might hear around the rink.

Hockey arena

Hockey puck

Biscuit in the Basket: 
The puck hitting the back of the net on a goal

Cherry Picking: 
When a player, generally a forward, hangs out behind the play waiting for a outlet pass so that he can have a breakaway.


Players are getting irritated with one another.

Coast to Coast: 
When a player carries the puck from his own end into the offensive end

To fake an opponent out of position with a movement of the head or body

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.

Five Hole: 
Placing a shot between the goalie’s legs.

Freezing the Puck:
To hold the puck against the boards with either the stick or skate to get a stoppage of play.

Glove Hand: 
The hand that the goalie catches the puck with, in contrast to his stick hand, which is the hand that the goalie holds his stick in.

A player who has little other purpose on the ice then to try and get players to fight.

A type of player known for his checking ability and work ethic; often associated with a player who is strong defensively, but who doesn’t score many points.

Hash Marks: 
The straight lines emerging from the two big circles in front of both nets. These lines direct players where to line up for face-offs.

Hockey stick.

Similar to a grinder, but one who adds a more physical temperament to his game. This player tends to stir up trouble.

One Timer: 
The act of shooting the puck directly off a pass. The offensive player takes his backswing while the puck is on its way to him and tries to time his swing with the arrival of the puck.

Rubber or Frozen Rubber: 
Hockey puck

Screened Shot: 
Goaltender’s view is blocked by players between him and the shooter.

Sin Bin: 
Penalty box

Top Shelf: 
Placing a shot in the top quarter of the net

Warm Up the Bus:
The outcome of the game has pretty much been decided and the visitor is going to lose. The crowd will ask them to “warm up the bus” for the trip home.

Wrap Around: 
When a player skates around behind the opposing goal and attempts to wrap the puck around the goal post under the goalie.

Beat Him Like Grandma Does an Old Throw Rug: 
In reference to a goalie being deked or otherwise scored on in an embarrassing manner.

Between the Pillows: 
A shot or deflection that goes between a goaltenders leg pads (aka Pillows).

The face off circles.

Equipment Sale
Act of disgarding sticks, gloves, helmets and various other articles of equipment; usually in preparation to engage in fisticuffs.

(in the) Paint: 
Goal crease.

The ice surface.

A Rough Ride: 
Player hit hard into the boards.

Puck Rimmed In: 
Puck shot all the way around the boards and behind the attacking zone net.

Pulling the Chute: 
Fans leaving the game/arena early thinking the game’s outcome is already decided or a player falling to the ice and pulling his opponent down on top of him to prematurely end a fight.

Shot in the Melon or Grill: 
Punch or stick to the face.

Sprung a Leak: 
Player has gotten cut and is bleeding.

Top Shelf, Up Where Uncle Bob Keeps the Bourbon Bottle: 
Shot lifted up under the cross bar, usually leaving the goalie with little or no chance of making a save.

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