Hockey 101: Vocab of the rink rats




Acts as the quarterback of the offensive forwards on the ice.

Two defenders make up a defensive line. Defenders help slow the attack of an opponent on their goal along with the goalie.  In the early days of hockey defenseman were nicknamed “blueliners,” since they rarely strayed from the blue line while their team was attacking the offensive zone.

Player whose responsibility is to guard the goal against shots using oversize pads on their legs, a “blocker” on one arm and a “glove” on another, along with a special hockey stick oufitted with a wide blade.

Two wings or “wingers,” left and right, make up the front three forwards of an offensive line along with the center.



A player is awarded an assist if they had handled the puck up to two passes removed from the scoring of a goal.

Defensive stat awarded to players willing to stand in front of and stop a shot on goal.

Act of putting the puck inside the goal net, A goal is counted on the stat sheet as both a “goal,” as well as a “point.”

Plus/minus is a hockey statistic which tracks the impact a player has in games. The stat accumulates from game-to-game. A “plus” is awarded if a skater is on the ice when their team scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal and will be assessed a “minus” if they’re on the ice when a even-strength or shorthanded goal is scored by the opposition.

In hockey statistics, players earn a “point” after having scoring a goal or being awarded an assist. 

Any shot on goal which is stopped by the goaltender is recorded as a save.
Shots on goal

Tally of shot that either score a goal or would have scored a goal without the goaltender making a save.

On the ice

Blue Line

Two blue lines extend the width of the ice at the top of the offensive zone at either end of the ice. No offensive player may cross their opponents blue line prior to the puck crossing first.
Boards and Glass

The wall which surrounds the ice surface of a hockey rink.
The “C” and the “A’s”

The “C” on the front of a player’s sweater designates the team “captain.” In addition to the “C,” some players will wear an “A,” which designates an “alternate captain.” In hockey etiquette, a captain or alternate captain is responsible for speaking to referees when a call comes under protest, or when other matters in a game are being discussed on the ice.
Changing on the Fly

Substitutions in hockey are done “on the fly.” The clock in hockey does not stop for substitutions, instead it is up to the players to properly substitute for one another without being caught having too many players on the ice. See Too Many Players on the Ice.
Center ice

Circle in the middle of a hockey rink.


A 4’x8’ painted area directly in front of the goal. Only offensive players with the puck can enter the crease. 
Cross bar

The horizontal bar which runs along the top of the goal mouth, connecting the two posts. Referenced when a puck shot toward the net “hits the cross bar.”
Goal line/Icing line

On each end of the playing surface, a red goal line runs the width of the ice near the goal. The goalmouth for each goal sits on the goal line. It is also known as the icing line as icing is called when a passed puck crosses the center ice line and the goal line without ever being touched.
Penalty box

Two seating areas off the ice opposite the team benches, one for each team, where skaters will sit for a set length of time, determined by the severity of the offending penalty. Once the time for a power play expires, the offending player may immediately return to the ice, without a stoppage in play. The penalty box is sometimes called “The Sin Bin.”

The two vertical bars on either side of the goal mouth. Referenced when a puck shot toward the net “hits the post.”

Prime scoring area in front of the goal between the two face-off circles in the offensive zone.

Shoot the puck


A backhand shot refers to the shooting of the puck by using the back side of the hockey stick blade. This versatile shot can be utilized for quick shots on goal while under pressure as well as a crafty way to catch goalies off guard by “roofing the puck,” flicking it into the top shelf over a goalie expecting a low shot.
Slap shot

The most famous of all hockey shots, the slap shot is easily recognized by a player pulling their stick back and swinging aggressively through the puck, sending the shot at an often blistering speed toward the goal. A puck hit with a slap shot as soon as the passed puck is within their reach is known as a “one-timer.”
Snap shot

To the unknowing eye, a snap shot will look a lot like a wrist shot. The difference between the two is the blade release point. A player will shoot the puck from the middle of the blade while loading their stick with some flex, and send the puck on net without a twisting of the wrist.
Wrist shot

Also known as a “wrister,” this common hockey shot starts with the puck on the heel of the hockey stick blade and is rolled up the blade and released from the toe, with a twisting motion of the wrist.

Game on

Back check

When skaters create pressure on their opponents by rushing back to defend their own goal in hopes of creating a turnover. Defenders are the skaters typically responsible for back checking.

Often a set play used after a team regains possession of the puck in their defensive zone. The team attempts to “breakout” of their defensive zone, amid backchecking defenders, in order to advance the puck up ice to attack their opponent’s goal.
Clear the puck

During a power play, the short-handed team will attempt to “clear the puck” from their end of the ice by flinging the puck as often as possible to the other end of the ice to limit the number of shots on goal during the power play. See also Penalty Kill.
Dump and chase

Offensive strategy when a team sends the puck deep into the offensive zone, past the defenders, but before they or their teammates have crossed the blueline. The attacking team then chases the puck to regain possession. To avoid an icing call, the puck is typically dumped in after crossing the center ice line, but before crossing the blueline of the attacking team’s offensive zone. Statistically speaking, giving up possession of the puck in order to enter the offensive zone is not the best way to score goals. In situations where forwards have the ability to out skate their opposing defenders the dump and chase can be a viable tactic, and is commonly used throughout all levels of the game.
Five hole

The exposed space between a goalie’s legs often targeted by players shooting the puck on net.


The opposite of the back check, a forecheck is when skaters create pressure on their opponents from within their own offensive zone. Typically the forwards, like their names suggest, do most of the forechecking. A strong forechecking team will typically create more scoring chances for themselves 
Hat trick

Name used for the act of scoring three goals in one game.

Icing is called when teams of even strength shoot the puck from anywhere behind the red line at center ice and it travels, untouched by any player, across the opposite end goal line, also known as the icing line. Icing is hockey’s way of eliminating cherry picking. However, if an offensive player is leading the charge to a puck shot from behind the center ice red line, icing may be waved off, under hybrid icing rules. In this instance, icing is a judgement call left up to the referee. When the whistle is blown by an referee for icing, the puck is returned to the offending team’s defensive zone for a face-off. Icing is not called when a team is short-handed and shoots the puck across the icing line from behind the center ice red line. This is a defensive tactic called “clearing the puck,” used to kill a penalty.
Line change

Name for the substitution of players in hockey. Offensive lines consist of three forwards and a defensive line has two defenders. A team will change lines at the end of a 40 seconds to a minute shift on the ice. Coaches decide which line to send out onto the ice and it is up to the players to make the shift change quickly. A front line change typically happens after a team has dumped the puck into their offensive zone. Teams will trade a possession in order to get fresh legs on the ice, guaranteeing they are not caught out of position with too few players on the ice to defend their own end.

Simply put, no offensive attacking player may enter the offensive zone before the puck. The top of the offensive zone is designated by the blue line. If any offensive player is in the offensive zone – across the blue line with both skates – before the puck crosses, the offense is offside and the whistle is blown and play is stopped.  

Name for an often-blistering shot on goal when a player immediately slaps the puck toward the goal once the passed puck is within their reach.
Penalty kill

After a penalty is called, the offending player must sit in the penalty box for anywhere from two to five minutes. A penalty kill refers to the shorthanded team’s ability to defend their goal with fewer skaters on the ice, for the entire duration their teammate is in the box. If no goal is scored by the team on the power play, then the penalty has been killed.
Power play

When one team has the advantage by having more skaters on the ice than their opponent. When a penalty is called, the offending player is sent to the penalty box for either two-minutes (for minor penalties) or five-minutes (for major penalties) resulting in a power play for the opposing team.
Pulling the Goalie 

Skaters can substitute for the goalie at any time. If the puck is at the opposite end of the ice on a delayed penalty call, teams may attempt to put an extra attacker on the ice. Pulling the goalie is a tactic often used by teams trying to score a game-tying goal near the end of regulation. With six skaters on the ice, a team has the ability to sustain possession of the puck in their offensive zone.

The time in which a line is on the ice. Shifts are commonly longer in duration for defenders than forwards and last from 45 seconds to a minute.

Describes a team with fewer skaters on the ice than their opponent, which commonly occurs when a skater is sent to the penalty box.
Top Shelf

Area of the goal mouth nearest the cross bar. Referenced when a goal is scored in this area of the net.

Used to describe action when a skater carries the puck from one side of the goal to the other by skating behind the net, in an attempt to sneak the puck in for a goal.

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