Our Sports Feel Good Stories In-depth Hockey Dictionary explains and takes a deep dive into common hockey terms. Sure, you might have a general understanding of the hockey term “icing,” but do you really know what it means? We can help.
This menu page provides a short description of each term. Importantly, each term has a link out 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
Cross-checking — Officially, cross-checking in hockey is the act of using 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 what is 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 but also 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. What may not be clear to the less experienced viewer, however, 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 or accidental. This often happens when players are battling over the puck and a player lifts their stick for the puck, but in doing so, hits the other player. A high sticking infraction involving an opposing player results in a penalty.
Hockey Slang (Canadian Style) — The lingo that players and fans use surrounding Canada’s national sport. 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 it crosses the goal line of the opposing team (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 the game of 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 with soccer, and can substitute as needed. Each substituting player must wait until the substituted player is off the ice before taking their place. Typically an entire line – three offensive players – come off the ice at the same time. They are then replaced by the next lineup.
Offside — The definition of offside in hockey: This 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 for now by checking out this cute youth hockey tutorial of what are simple offside plays.
Penalty Kill — The definition of a penalty kill: It occurs 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 shorthanded 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 is the result of 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.
Shootout — When a game is still 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 continue with sudden death penalty shots, alternately, 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 takes place. 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.
Stanley Cup — 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.
You’re on our Hockey Terms and Definitions Dictionary page.
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