Part 1: Common Hockey Terms

Welcome to Part 1 of a 4-part series covering terms used in hockey. For new fans, it can take a while to fully understand hockey terms related to on-ice play, stats and of course hockey slang.   We figured we would put together our version of hockey terms to help make it as clear as the ice after a fresh Zamboni run. 

In this post, we cover a brief list general hockey terms. In Part 2 we’ll cover terms related to general statistics. In Part 3 we’ll get into advanced metrics and terms used throughout Fantasy Hockey including the statistical terminology you’ll see on  Finally in Part 4 we’ll lighten it up with some of the slang and hockey lingo that gets bandied about by hockey players and fans alike.

Our lists are not all-encompassing. We’ve left out some obvious terminology in an attempt to stick with terms new fans might not figure out on their own. If you see a term, a stat or acronym you think should be included, let us know in the comments!

On the Ice

Hockey terms related to the playing areas or zones on the ice.  


The goalie crease is the blue coloured ice directly in front of the goaltender’s net. It is 6 feet wide by 4 feet long, and includes the 2-foot semi-circle at the top. There are special rules governing this designated area. The crease is for the goalie only. An offensive player cannot stand in or fight for position within this area. 

Hockey Terms - Goalie Crease


When a player sends the puck into the offensive zone without first crossing the centre (red) line, and the puck is then touched first by a member of the opposing team rather than a teammate. Play is resumed with a faceoff in the defending zone of the team that committed the icing infraction.

However, there are times when icing is not called despite crossing two red lines with no one touching it.

  1. When the team sending the puck down the ice is short-handed due to a penalty.
  2. The puck goes through the opposing crease – the goalie would then have to play it
  3. The puck goes in the opposing net

Still wondering what’s the point?  Here’s a great explaining from a reddit convo: “What’s the point of icing in hockey?

Neutral Zone

The Neutral Zone is the area of ice between the blue lines.

Hockey Term - Neutral Zone

Penalty Box

Located to the side of the ice, the Penalty Box is the designated area in which a player sits to serve a penalty (major or minor). A player must remain in the box for the duration of the penalty served (2 minutes for a minor, 5 minutes for a major), and may rejoin the play once the full time of the penalty has been served. Each team has its own penalty box.

Yes, there are 4 players in that penalty box.????



Defensive Zone

The Defensive Zone is the area of ice that contains a team’s own net and goalie—it extends to the blue line. This is the area of the ice a team will defend. The area of ice between the two blue lines is the Neutral Zone, and beyond that lies the Offensive Zone.

Offensive Zone

The Offensive Zone is the area of ice that contains the opposing team’s net and goalie—the end of the ice in which a team is trying to score a goal. The Offensive Zone extends from the area behind the net to the blue line. The area of ice between the two blue lines is the Neutral Zone, and beyond that lies the Defensive Zone.


When a player enters the Offensive Zone, but crosses the blue line before the puck does. An on-ice official will stop the play, and a faceoff will be held just outside the blue line of the Offensive Zone.

Checkout #22 at the bottom of the screen – see how he’s across the blue line before the puck carried by the white-team player?  (The ref missed the call BTW). 

offside hockey


General Play

Hockey terms related to general play.


When a player skates back towards their own goal to defend against the opposition’s attack. While the word “checking” is used it doesn’t refer to any physical contact. Closely related is the term, “picking-up your check” which means gaining the defensive position against a specific opposing player within your vicinity during a backcheck. 



Face-offs are used to begin games, as well as restart play after it has stopped. One player from each team (generally a centre) squares off as the referee drops the puck.



When a game is tied at the end of regulation play (regular time) it must enter into overtime to determine a winner. During regular season, one 5-minute period of overtime ensues with both teams down to 3-players aside (3 v 3), plus a goalie. If there are no goals by the end of the OT period, the game enters into a shootout.

During the playoffs, OT periods are 20 minutes long at full strength (5 v 5), plus a goalie. Both regular season and playoff overtimes are treated as “sudden death” or “golden goal”, meaning the game is over as soon as a goal is scored.


Short-handed Goal

When the team on a penalty kill still manages to score, the goal is considered ‘short-handed’ because the team was down one or more players when the goal was scored.


A shutout is any game in which one of the teams does not score. A shutout is good for the stats of the goalie of the winning team.


In a non-playoffs scenario, when regulation play and overtime have not sufficed to determine a winner, the game will enter into a shootout. Each team selects 3 players who alternate taking penalty shots (i.e. a player from one team shoots, then a player from the other team shoots, etc.). If both teams score the same number of goals and the game remains tied, more players are selected from each team and alternate taking shots until one teams comes out ahead in goals.

There are no shootouts during playoffs. Instead, a series of 20-minute OT periods with intermissions take place until someone scores. 



Checking is a general technique used to disrupt and separate the puck carrier from the puck to force a turnover. It’s safe to say that body checking is the most well known form of checking, though there are many others, such as forechecking, backchecking and cross-checking (an illegal form of checking).

hockey checking


Forechecking is when the attacking team applies pressure to the defending team in order to gain control of the puck in the Offensive Zone. Intensity of pressure and tactics used will depend greatly upon coaching style and an offensive player’s forechecking ability.


The roster is the list of a team’s current players. It can include coaching and staff and management. 



A slap shot is a type of shot in which the player ‘winds up’ (lifts his stick from the ice and pulls it backward) before shooting the puck. It is considered one of the most powerful shots in hockey, but often the least accurate.



Stickhandling is when a player moves around the ice or outmanoeuvres an opponent while carrying the puck on the blade of their stick.




A wrist shot capitalizes on using muscles in the wrists and forearm to shoot the puck. The power of this type of shot comes from the lower body, though it’s considered less powerful than a Slap Shot. It is, however, more accurate and can carry the element of surprise as it does not require an exaggerated setup.


Penalties and Infractions

Need-to-know terms related to penalties. 

Bench Penalty

Sometimes referred to as a bench minor, a bench penalty is a minor penalty given to a team’s coaching staff or the entire team itself. Very often these penalties are given for infractions such as too many men on the ice, abuse of officials, unsportsmanlike conduct, deliberate delay of game, etc.

Game Misconduct

A game misconduct is a penalty that can be imposed for various infractions, such as abuse of officials, stick infractions, severe physical fouls, etc. A player who receives a game misconduct is ejected from the game and 10 penalty minutes are added to that player’s PIM total.



Hooking is an illegal tactic in which a player uses his stick to “hook” his opponent’s body, thereby slowing him down, preventing a goal, or impeding his opponent’s effort to gain a better position on the ice. Hooking is generally awarded a minor penalty, however, if the player being hooked is injured, a major penalty or a game misconduct can be given. (Important note: stick-to-stick contact is not considered hooking.)


Penalty Kill

When one team is down one or more players due to a penalty, their main focus is to deny the opposing team the opportunity to score while their players are in the penalty box. This situation is described as the ‘penalty-kill’. 


Cross Checking

Cross-checking is an illegal form of checking in which a player uses both hands to grip the stick shaft (one at the bottom, the other at the top) and the middle of the stick is then used to ram another player. If a player is caught cross-checking an opponent in the back, in the face or into the boards (particularly from behind), a major penalty will generally be called.


High Stick

When a player uses or carries his stick above the height of his opponent’s shoulder. Players who make contact with an opponent while high sticking will be awarded a minor penalty.



Slashing is the action in which a player swings their stick at another player. A penalty is called if the slash is considered aggressive, and not a play on the puck. 


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