Our Sports Feel Good Stories In-depth Hockey Dictionary explains and takes a deep dive into standard hockey terms. Sure, you might understand the hockey term “icing,” but do you know what it means? We can help.
This menu page provides a short description of each term. Importantly, each term has a link to a page that elaborates on the topic to a much greater extent. We’ve also added videos and diagrams to help your understanding. We’ll continue to add to the hockey dictionary as we go.
Dictionary of Hockey Terms
The Captain’s Role in Hockey — Being a hockey captain or an alternate on a hockey team is more than just a title or even having that extra letter stitched on a jersey. It has a distinct meaning to those on the team. But it also comes with some responsibility.
Cross-checking — Officially, cross-checking in hockey uses the shaft of a stick between two hands to forcefully check an opponent where no portion of the stick is on the ice. But it is a fine line between what is considered an infraction compared to legal checking. A legal hit can be considered illegal if the instigator’s skates come off the ice.
Face-off — A face-off occurs when two players from each team stand at the face-off spot, and an official drops the puck. Each player battles with their stick to determine who wins possession of the puck and the play. A face-off starts at the beginning of each period, and after a penalty, game stoppage, such as if the puck leaves the ice and after a goal is scored.
Fighting in Hockey — Gloves off punches thrown, wresting to the ice; this is fighting in hockey. However, what may not be apparent to the less experienced viewer is that some players specifically take on the role of fighting. That, and there is also a code to how it’s done.
Terms for Hockey
Hat Trick — A hat trick is when a player scores three goals in a single game. When this happens, fans become so enthusiastic that they toss their hats on the ice to celebrate. This is more likely to happen when the player is from the home team (it’s hard to be happy about it being against your team).
High Sticking — High sticking, not to be confused with a high stick call, is when a player makes contact with their stick on another player above his shoulders. This can be both intentional and accidental. This often happens when players are battling over the puck. A player lifts their stick for the puck but, in doing so, hits the other player—a high sticking infraction involving opposing player results in a penalty.
Check out How to Be a Good Hockey Parent
Hockey Slang (Canadian Style) — The terminology players and fans use surrounding Canada’s national sport. For example, the hockey puck is referred to as the biscuit.
Icing — Simply put, icing occurs when a team shoots the puck from their side of the ice across the center red line and crosses the opposing team’s goal line (as seen in the image below). It is the bold, red line that divides the rink in half. Icing is an infraction in the game of hockey.
Line Change — In hockey, players are substituted during gameplay or on the fly. This means that they do not have to wait for permission from the referees, such as in soccer, and can substitute as needed. Each substituting player must wait until they are off the ice before taking their place. Typically an entire line – three offensive players – come off the ice simultaneously. The following lineup then replaces them.
Offside — The definition of offside in hockey occurs when the attacking player proceeds the puck into the attacking zone, past the blue line. There are three variations: offside, delayed offside, and intentional offside. Let’s focus on the first one by checking out this cute youth hockey tutorial of simple offside plays.
See See the Connor McDavid Profile.
Penalty Kill — A penalty kill is when a player is sent to the penalty box due to an illegal play. The offending team plays outnumbered for a given time. During this time, the short-handed team must kill off the power play – hence the term penalty kill – and prevent the other team from scoring.
Power Play — A power play in hockey results from a game infraction. A minimum of one player from the offending team serves either two, four, or five minutes in the penalty box, giving the other team a numerical advantage. This may also be described as the penalized team playing short-handed.
Pulling the Goalie — When a team is down in goals, it can pull the goalie and replace the goalie with an attacking player giving it a numerical advantage. There is an empty net when this happens, leaving the team vulnerable to an empty-net goal. That said, many teams have tied a game using this strategy.
Shootout — When a game is tied after overtime, which is five minutes, it goes to a shootout. This involves three hand-picked players from each team to alternate penalty shots at the opposing team’s goalie. The team with the most goals wins. If it is still a tie after the initial three, they alternately continue with sudden death penalty shots until a goal is scored.
Situation Room in the NHL — The Situation Room (not to be confused with the one in the White House) is the league’s headquarters where the final decision on a questionable call occurs. While the referees on the ice make most of the calls, sometimes reviews of the play are needed. In other words, it is the quality control room.
The National Hockey League Championship Trophy is called the Stanley Cup. The trophy is named after Lord Stanley, who was Governor Central of Canada and is credited with donating the cup as a prize for Canada’s top-ranking amateur hockey team.
Hockey is one of the most exciting sports to watch and play. A great place to start is with the NHL playoffs. If you’ve never watched a game, tune in for some fun tv viewing.
By Danielle L’Ami with Mike O’Halloran
Danielle is a Canadian sportswriter who lives in the Toronto area. Mike is the founder and editor of Sports Feel Good Stories.
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