Hockey Lingo Dictionary: 42 Hockey Terms You Need to Know

By Preston Bradsher

The 2021 NWHL season is officially underway, with all the regular season games streaming live on Twitch and the semifinals and Isobel Cup championship to be broadcast on NBCSN. If you’re new to the league or to the sport, you may have noticed that hockey is full of lingo and slang terms, and since we want you to enjoy this NWHL season to the fullest, we’ve compiled this handy guide to all the hockey terms you need to know.

Boards – The low wall that goes all the way around the rink. You’ll often hear announcers talking about board battles, which is when multiple players are pushed up against the boards trying to win the puck.

Sin bin – Another name for the penalty box.

Red line – The center line on the ice, which is—you guessed it—red.

Blue lines – The two lines that separate the offensive and defensive zones from the neutral zone. 

Neutral zone – The area of the ice between the two blue lines. It contains the red line and the center circle. 

Pipes – The posts on either side of the net.

Crossbar – The top bar of the net.

Blocker – Part of a goalie’s equipment, it’s used to block shots. Other goalie equipment includes the glove, goalie stick, and pads.

Circles – There four smaller circles on the ice, two in each offensive zone. There is a faceoff dot in each one. You’ll sometimes hear about shots coming from the top of the circles. 

Hash marks – The two short lines on either side of the faceoff circles. Teams must stay on their side of the hash marks during a faceoff until the puck hits the ice. You’ll also hear about players taking shots from the hash marks.

Slot – The space between the two circles in each offensive zone. The slot is considered the most dangerous place to shoot from, so defenders and goalies pay special attention to opposing players in the slot.

Faceoff – A battle at one of the nine faceoff dots between the two centers to determine puck possession. The referee drops the puck at the dot and the centers try to win it back to their own team. Faceoffs start play at the beginning of each period and after each stoppage.

Lines/line change – A line is a small group of players that generally comes onto the ice together. A line change is a substitution, and they happen constantly without any stoppage of play. You’ll see players jumping over the boards for line changes every minute or so throughout the game.

Shift – The amount of time a player or line spends on the ice.

Icing – When a player hits the puck from one side of the red line to across the opposite goal line and an opposing player is next to touch the puck, icing is called. When a team is called for icing, play is stopped and the faceoff returns to the offending team’s defensive zone. The team cannot make a line change during a stoppage for an icing. The icing can be waved off by the ref if a player on the offending team races to the opposite end of the ice to touch the puck first. The icing rule is designed to keep play moving, so players can’t just dump the puck across the length of the ice to get out of their defensive zone.

Offsides – Everyone’s least favorite rule. Basically, if a player crosses the blue line into their team’s offensive zone before the puck crosses the line, that player is offside. In order to get back onside, that player (and any other teammates in the offensive zone) must touch up, or cross back over the blue line to then reenter the zone. If the player does not get onside and touches the puck, the play is stopped and a faceoff occurs just outside the blue line. 

Delayed Penalty – A delayed penalty is signaled (by the ref’s arm straight in the air) when a penalty is committed by the team that does not have possession of the puck at the time of the penalty. In this case, the play will not be stopped until a player on the offending team gains control of the puck. During a delayed penalty, the team in possession will generally pull their goalie so they can have an extra skater as they try to score. 

Slapshot – The big, scary shot where the player winds up and hits the puck hard. These are the shots that can hit 90 mph. Other common types of shots are snapshots and wrist shots.

Backhand – A shot taken from the backside of a player’s stick. This is a common shot used to deceive a goalie or defender.

Nutmeg – When a player puts the puck between an opposing player’s legs.

Dangles – A variety of moves and fakes (or dekes) a skater uses to confuse and deceive an opposing goaltender.

Tic-tac-toe – A series of back and forth passes in front of goal leading up to a shot.

Wraparound – A shot on goal where a player skates from behind the goal in a tight circle and tries to wrap the puck into the goal with their stick.

Forecheck – When forwards (usually) from one team try to force a turnover in the other team’s defensive zone. Think forecheck is when the team is going forward towards the other team’s net and trying to win the puck back.

Backcheck – The opposite of forecheck, backcheck is when players are moving back towards their own net to try to take the puck away from the opponents, preferably before they can get a shot off. When you see players rushing back to try to regain the puck and help their defense after a turnover, that’s backchecking.

Power play – When the other team has taken a penalty, the team that now has the extra skater advantage is said to be on the power play. 

Penalty kill – When a team takes a penalty and has to play with fewer skaters than the other team, that team is on the penalty kill (because they are trying to kill off the penalty without getting scored on).

Shutout – When a team keeps the other team from scoring any goals during a game. Shutouts are especially important stats for goaltenders.

Rebound – You usually hear this in reference to goaltending—when a goalie makes a save but gives up a rebound it can create dangerous chances for the other team to score. The best goalies have good rebound control, sending them away from opponents and keeping them out of dangerous areas.

Screen – When a player stands in front of a goaltender to block their view. Part of a defender’s responsibility is to help their goalie deal with screens.

Butterfly – When a goalie drops down onto both knees so their pads are horizontal and flat to the ground.

Top shelf – The area above a goalie’s shoulders. Many goals are scored by players who can place their shots in this spot.

Five-hole – The space between a goalie’s legs. A five-hole goal is one that slips through this space and into the net.

Bar down – A shot that hits the crossbar and rebounds down into the net for a goal.

Chirp – An insult, taunt, or other bit of banter between players on opposing teams.

Celly – Short for celebration; the fun stuff you see after a goal is scored.

Sweater – Another name for a hockey jersey.

Sieve – An insulting term for a goalie implying they’re full of holes and easy to score on.

Snow – To stop suddenly in front of an opposing player and purposely spray them with ice shavings. Snowing the goalie can be called as a penalty.

Apple – Another name for an assist.

Light the lamp – Refers to scoring a goal; when a goal is scored the lamp over the net lights up.

Hat Trick – When a player scores three goals in a single match. Fans will often throw their hats onto the ice when a player scores a hat trick.

Share this story:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *