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Hockey Lingo

Hockey has a language all unto itself. Like most sports, die-hard fans will speak this lingo in coffee shops or around the water cooler. It’s not a hard language to master; we’re not talking Latin 300 here. The next time you here a Stampede hockey fan say “The guy down the pipe let a howie go top shelf. He water bottled the Swiss cheese like 99!” You would know that the player playing center shot the puck over the goal tenders glove and scored, similar to a goal Wayne Gretzky scored. Simple, eh? Here are a few of the basics to get you started:

5 Hole
The space between a goalie's pads.

Forwards in the opponent’s zone skate back to their own zone to protect their goal and prevent the opponents from shooting.

Blue Lines
The pair of 1-foot-wide lines that extend across the width of the ice 60 feet from each goal. They separate the ice into attacking, neutral and defending zones.

An offensive rush in which an attacking player breaks open and has a clear shot on the goaltender.

To hit an opponent using the end of the stick farthest from the blade. (This is illegal)

Taking three or more strides before checking an opponent. (Illegal)

The box directly in front of the goaltender. It is 4 feet by 8 feet and marked off with red lines. Players who do not have the puck may not enter.

Hitting an opponent with both hands on the stick and no part of the stick on the ice. (Illegal)

A quick move intended to fake out an opponent.

Drop Pass
Puck carrier leaves the puck behind to be picked up by a trailing teammate.

The dropping of the puck by the referee between one player from each team to start play.

Hustling in the opponent's defensive zone by forwards to force a turnover.

Passing the puck forward to an attacking teammate.

Freezing the Puck
Pinning the puck against the boards.

Goal Line
The red line that runs between the goal post and extends in both directions to the side boards.

Hat Trick
Three goals in a game by a single player.

High Stick
Raising the stick above the shoulder. If it is used near an opponent, it is a penalty. Goals scored with a high stick are disallowed.

Body contact with an opponent who does not have the puck and was not the last man to have had the puck. (Illegal)

Player accepts a pass and attempts a slap shot in the same motion.

Penalty Box
The area where penalized players serve their penalty time.

Penalty Shot
One-on-one showdown between shooter and goaltender. Called when a player on a breakaway is pulled down from behind.

Position just inside the blue line usually manned by a defenseman when his team is in control in their own offensive zone.

Poke Check
To dislodge the puck from an opponent by stabbing the blade of the stick at the puck.

Power Play
When a team has a one-man or two-man advantage because the other team is serving a penalty.

Red Line
The line that divides the ice in half.

An accurate shot blocked by the goalie.

Screen Shot
A shot the goaltender has difficulty seeing due to player(s) in front of him.

The area directly in front of the goal crease.

Using the entire length of the stick in a sweeping motion to dislodge the puck from an opponent.

Aiming a shot above either shoulder of a goaltender.

For the slightly more advanced

A really hard slap-shot.

Twisted Wrister
A really hard wrist shot.

Melrose (pull a…)
Basically, when a team is out coached, they get “Melrosed”. This term is named for former LA Kings and current ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose.

Gong Show
Any game that gets out of hand. It could be too many penalties or a one-sided  victory. Anything negative could be deemed a gong show.  Meat Show: Basically a Gong Show featuring a lot of fights.

A term used for a hockey fight. Others include: Dance, Tango, Beef, Throttle…you get the idea.

Blow Out
A lop-sided score for one team. There is no exact number of goals needed for a blow-out, but if a team loses 9-2…they got blown out.

Ding (dinged it)
When the puck hits the post.

A rather nice term for a referee. Ref’s wear black and white striped jerseys, hence, resemble zebras. “Pin-stripper” could also apply.

Helicopter Line
This clever term describes a forward line that has a really talented centerman, and weaker forwards. A helicopter has no wings, so it doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out.

Donut Line
This term refers to a forward line, consisting of two strong wingers and a less-talented centerman. A donut also has no center…get it!

99 was the number worn by the greatest player of all time, Wayne Gretzky. Although no player will probably ever be able to measure up to “The Great One”, from time to time, players can make plays that can be compared to Gretzky’s mastery of the game. Please use this term in moderation as throwing out too many 99 comparisons could put you in the “dog-house” and give you less opportunities to strut your hockey lingo.

Swiss Cheese
Swiss cheese is known to many because it has holes in it. Unfortunately, so do some goaltenders. That’s why goalies are sometimes called swiss cheese. Other terms for goalies include: stopper, target, and tenders.

I saved this one for last, as it doesn’t directly have any meaning. However, use of this word will make your fellow hockey fans think you are from Canada, or parts of Michigan and Minnesota where hockey is a way of life. One simple comment like, “That fella has a pretty good shot, eh?” will put you a top the leader board amongst many hockey lingo elitists. The fact that you think a player has a hard shot is not the issue. By adding “eh?” at the end of this sentence infers you reside from The Great White North, thus placing more value on your opinion. Like using “99”, be very careful not to use this word too much or it could prompt a fellow fan to tell you to “Take-Off, eh?”. (That’s bad, eh?).

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