Hockey terms and lingo

Children playing a game of ice hockey.

NWA Hockey  by Texas Tongs.  CC BY-NC

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Just like any other popular sport, hockey has developed its own language, even culture. To help you understand how the sport works, here are a few basic terms used in the game:

Attacker – a player who plays in the forward or offensive and tries to score goals.
Back Line – one of the two shorter sides of the pitch on which the goals are located.
Blue Lines – These are two blue lines that break up the rink into attacking (offensive), neutral, and defending zones.
Butt-Ending – This is an illegal move where a player hits an opponent with the end of the stick farthest from the blade (this results in a penalty).
Cage – net.
Crease – the area directly in front of a goaltender.
Defender – the player whose main goal is to prevent the other team from scoring.
Deke – to fake the opponent out of position.
Faceoff – a puck is dropped between two players (one from each team) signaling the start or resumption of play.
Flick-pass – to pass the puck quickly using a short backhand movement.
Foul – an illegal move that can lead to a penalty (levels: minor, major, and misconduct). The harsher the penalty, the harsher the punishment. You can see examples of them here: Ice hockey penalties explained (Hockey for Dummies Cheat Sheet).
Freezing the puck – to hold the puck against the boards (the wall surrounding the rink) with either side of the stick or skate to stop the play.
Goaltender – the player who defends the goal mouth. He is the only player who can use his hands to deflect the puck.
Goal Line – the red line that runs between the goal posts and extends in both directions to the side boards.
Goal Mouth – the area just in front of the goal and crease lines.
Penalty Box – the area opposite the team benches where penalized players serve time.
Puck– the small, black rubber disc a player needs to shoot to score a goal.
Save – a shot blocked by the goaltender.
Slap Shot – hitting the puck with the blade of the stick after taking a full backswing.
Slot – prime scoring area between the faceoff circles and in front of the goal.
Splitting the defense – the player with the puck attempting to squeeze between the opponent’s defensemen.
Stretch pass – long pass.
Top shelf – when an offensive player shoots high in an attempt to beat the goaltender by putting the puck in the top part of the net.
Wraparound – when a player skates from one side to the other side of the goal, from behind the goal, and tucks the puck into the other side of the goal before the goaltender recovers his position.

Hockey Slang

Do you want to speak like a hockey player? Or maybe you just want to understand people’s comments when they watch hockey? The following colourful and abstract terms are near and dear to the hearts of diehard hockey fans. Keep these words in mind when you watch the next game:
5 hole – a goal between the goalie’s legs.
Apple/ Apple sauce – an assist (when a player passes the puck perfectly to another player who then scores a goal).
Bar down/Bar Mexico – scoring off a crossbar (the top metal part of the hockey net/goal. The metal sides are called posts). Off the iron, ringing the iron or ringing the bells is a shot that hits the goal post or crossbar.
Barn – the rink or arena.
Barn Burner – a game that is high scoring, fast paced, and exciting to watch.
Beauty/beaut – good or great.
Beauty/Beautician – a popular player. This is a player who is talented both on the ice and off and beloved by the team.
Bender (also Duster or Plug) – a player who is not very good at hockey.
Biscuit – another name for the puck (the small, black rubber disc a player needs to shoot to the goal).
Beaks – insults.
Blowing a tire, falling off rails, tripping on the blue line – falling for no reason.
Breadbasket – a term that describes a goalie’s chest.
Breezers – hockey pants.
Bucket – a helmet.
A buck and a half – one minute and 30 seconds left in the game.
Buries the puck – scores a goal. A goal is also called biscuit in the basket.
Celly – short for celebration. This is done whenever a goal is scored.
Chiclets – teeth. Certain players have lost their chiclets due to the roughness of the game. Spitting chiclets means to have your teeth knocked out.
Chirp – complaining to the referee or antagonizing the other team.
Clapper – a slapshot or a powerful slapshot that results in a goal.
Flashes the leather – the goalie makes a save with his glove.
Flow (also Lettuce) – long, flowing hair you can see out of a player’s helmet.
Game face – a beard grown during the playoffs.
Gongshow – a game that is out of control with multiple fights, penalties, and lots of goals.
Grinder (or Plumber) – a player who works hard on ice.
Grocery stick – a player who sits on the bench the whole game (can be a duster or bender). Also called a bench warmer. Ride the Pine is the verb phrase.
Gordie Howe Hat trick – a goal, an assist and a fight all by one player in one game.
Hat trick – scoring of three or more goals by the same player in one game.
(To) have your pocket picked – to be stripped of the puck without seeing the opponent coming.
In the wheel house – a pass that goes to your feet.
Mitts – refers to players’ hands or gloves.
Picks off the pass – intercepts a pass.
Pigeon – a player who is not good enough to score goals by himself so he relies on more skilled team mates (used in trash talk or insults).
Playoff makeup – scrapes and bruises on the face.
Pylon – a player who is extremely slow on ice.
Right in the breadbasket – a shot that goes to the goalie’s chest.
Right on the tape – a perfect pass right to the stick.
(To) rob someone – to make a great save.
Sieve – an awful goalie (he has many holes for opponents to shoot through).
Twig – hockey stick.

Sources: Hockey 101 (Common Hockey terms), NHL. com; How to talk like a hockey player, Bill Schoeninger, The Hockey Writers.com; Hockey vocabulary, English Club; Hockey Lingo Dictionary, Underdog Obsessed.

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