Hockey Talk 101

This post entry is for fans of all forms {new, non and life long} in order to have a better understanding of how the NHL game is played.  The post will be linked on the left side under “Shark Pond.”  The terms came from an old San Jose Sharks Magazine (Vol. 5 No. 6 with Owen Nolan on the cover to be specific) as did the page scan of San Jose Sharks mascot S.J. Sharkie doing the officials’ signals.

Official NHL Rink Dimensions. Photo courtesy of


Back Check: To hinder an opponent heading toward and into the defending zone.

Blue Lines: The pair of one-foot wide blue lines which extend across the ice at a distance of 60 feet from each goal.  These lines break up the ice into attacking, neutral and defending zones.

Body Check: Use of the body on an opponent.  It is legal when the opponent has possession of the puck, or was the last player to have touched it.

Breakaway: An offensive rush in which the attacking player breaks into the clear and has a clear shot on the goaltender.

Corners: Four curved areas of the hockey rink where a great deal of action takes place.

Crease: Area directly in front of the goaltender.  It is four feet wide, eight feet long and marked off by red lines.  Offensive players who do not have possession of the puck may not enter.

Deke: To fake an opponent out of position.

Face-off: The dropping of a puck between one player from each team to start or resume play.

Forecheck: To check an opponent in his end of the rink, preventing an offensive rush.

Freeze the Puck: To hold the puck against the boards with either stick or skate in order to stop play.

Goal Cage: Sometimes called a net.  It is 6 feet wide and 4 feet high.  Its back is enclosed with netting in order to catch the puck when shot into it.

Goal Mouth: The area just in front of the goal and crease lines.

Hat Trick: The scoring of three or more goals by a player in one game.

Icing: Intentionally shooting the puck from behind the center red line over opponent’s goal line.

Kicked Goal: A goal intentionally kicked into opponents net.  It is disallowed.

Major Penalty: Calls for for five minutes in the box, and can be imposed on any player (i.e., fighting)

Minor Penalty: Calls for two minutes in the box and can be imposed on any player (i.e. for hooking, tripping, etc.).

Misconduct Penalty: A 10-minute penalty usually called against a player whose become excessively abusive.  The team may substitute for the penalized player.

Offsides: Occurs when an attacking player precedes the puck into the attacking zone; play is resumed with a face-off.

Penalty Box: The area opposite the team benches where penalized players serve time.

Penalty Shot: Gives the player a clear shot with only the goaltender to defend it.  Awarded when a player is fouled from the rear while having an otherwise clear path to the goal.

Power Play: A power play occurs when a team has a one-man or two-man advantage because of opponent’s penalties.  It is an all-out attempt to score.

Puck: The vulcanized rubber disc which is whacked around the ice.  It is frozen for several hours before game time to prevent it from bouncing.

Pull the Goalie: Replacing the goaltender with an extra skater.  Usually occurs when a team trails (usually by one goal) in the final minute or so of the game.  It is a high-risk maneuver aimed at tying the score.

Save: A shot blocked by the goaltender that would have been a goal if not stopped.

Screen-Shot: Goaltender’s view is blocked by players between the shooter and goalie.

Slap Shot: Hitting the puck with the blade of the stick after a full backswing.

Slot: The area immediately in front of the goal.  It is from the zone that most goals are scored and where the most furious action takes place.

Split the Defense: Player with the puck attempts to squeeze between the opponent’s defensemen.

Stickhandle: To control the puck along the ice.

Photo courtesy of San Jose Sharks Magazine Vol. 5 No. 6


Boarding: To ride or drive an opponent into the dasher boards.  It is illegal and calls for a penalty.

Butt-Ending: To hit an opponent with the end of the stick farthest from the blade.  It is illegal and calls for a penalty.

Charging: Taking more than two steps to body check an opponent.  It is illegal and calls for a penalty.

Cross-Check: Hitting an opponent with both hands on the stick, when no part of the stick is on the ice.  It is illegal and calls for a penalty.

High-Sticking: Striking your oppoent while carrying the stick above the waist.  It is illegal and calls for a penalty.

Holding: Using hands or stick to hold an oppoent.  It is illegal and calls for a penalty.

Hooking: Using the blade of a stick to hook or grip an opponent from behind.  It is illegal and calls for a penalty.

Interference: Minor penalty called on a player who impedes the progress of an opponent not in possession of the puck, or who dilberatley knocks stick out of an opponents hand.

Roughing: A small-scale punching or shoving bout which results in a minor penalty.

Slashing: Swinging stick at an opponent.  It is illegal and calls for a penalty.

Spearing: Stabbing an opponent with the stick blade.  It is illegal and calls for a penalty.

Tripping: Minor penalty imposed to any player whose stick, knee, foot, arm, hand or elbow causes an opponent to trip or fall.


Goaltender: The main responsibility of the goaltender is to keep the puck from entering the goal.  There are no restrictions placed on the methods he can employ.  His offensive contributions are limited and consist of occasionally passing the puck to the defensemen or forwards.  A goalkeeper almost never scores a goal and only on rare occasions does he receive credit for an assist.

Defensemen: The defensemen try to stop the incoming play at their own blue line.  They attempt to break up passes, block shots, cover opposing forwards and clear the puck from in front of their own goal.  Offensively they carry the puck up the ice or pass the puck up to the forwards, then follow the play into the attacking zone, stationing themselves just inside the opposition’s blue line at the “points.”

Center: The center operates mostly up and down the middle of the ice and usually leads the attack by carrying the puck.  He sets up the plays by exchanging passes with his two wingmen and tries to steer the play toward the enemy goal.  Defensively, he tries to keep play in his own attacking zone by harassing the opposing puck carrier (forechecking).

Wings: The two wings move up and down the sides of the rink with the direction of play.  Offensively, they skate abreast the center exchanging passes with him while positioning themselves for a shot on goal.  Defensively, they try to disrupt plays by the opposing wings and upset their shot attempts.


About Jon Allred

Life long San Jose and Worcester Sharks fan that bleeds teal and black.

Posted on March 29, 2011, in Sports and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Wow! That was a really helpful post for newcomers like me, because I wasn’t able to find those definitions anywhere! Will be useful when the playoffs start, since I’m not going to sleep until I see the matches (aprox 4am spanish time) (:

  2. Great brusher! Love the Sharkie zebra penalty sign lingo….that’s how kids and me learn the best! 😛

  3. I remember this Sharks Magazine article…I used it in a HS speech report, haha. Sharkie’s penalty calls are great, educational…and entertaining. It’s hard for new hockey fans to find explanations like this, glad you posted it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: