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In a Word -- the Vocabulary of Ice Hockey

© John Keith 2010

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Playing the Game

Shooting the Puck

Hockey players shoot at the goal in a variety of ways. A wrist shot is when the player rests the puck against the blade of his stick and then shoots it. A faster, harder shot, the slap-shot, is when the player swings his stick back and upwards and then slaps the puck with great force. A back-hand is when the puck is shot not forward but backward off the back of the stick. A “screen shot” is when a player shoots when the goalie’s view is blocked or “screened” by players standing or skating in front of the net. A new expression is “a one-timer”: the player doesn’t catch the pass first and then shoot, but touches the puck only once as he hits the puck toward the net.

Many shots, of course, miss the net entirely and so are not counted in the totals of “shots-on-net”. Sometimes shots go past the goalie but “hit the post” or “hit the crossbar” of the net and bounce away. Players are awarded points for every goal they score and also for any assists. If they pass to a player who scores, they get an assist. If they pass to a player who then passes to another player who then scores, they also get an assist. If a player scores three times in one game, he gets a “hat-trick”.

Checks and Saves

The opposing players, of course, are trying to check the player with the puck, intercept passes, or block shots sent towards the net. Goalies make saves by blocking shots with their pads, and making stick saves and glove saves. If it is very busy around the net the goalie can hold onto the puck or if the puck is smothered underneath a sprawling goalie or other players lying on the ice, the whistle is blown and there is a face off in one of the circles inside the blue-line.

End-of-Game Strategies

If a team is behind only one goal in the final minutes of play, the coach can “pull the goalie”. After a face-off and his team has possession of the puck and is heading towards the other teams net, the goalie rushes to the bench and another attacker jumps on the ice. This action sometimes back-fires, and the opposing team shoots in the puck for “an empty-net goal”.

In the regular season, if the teams are tied – that is, if they have the same number of goals at the end of regular time -- each team earns a point in the overall teams standings. After only one-minute’s rest, the teams will play another shorter period of not more than 5 minutes; however, each team will have only four not five skaters in addition to the goalie. This period is called “sudden-death overtime” – the game will end when the first goal is scored and the scoring team is awarded a second point. If, however, no goal is scored in the overtime period, the game will go to a “shoot-out”. Players from each team are given the puck at centre ice and they skate in on the goalie like a penalty shot to try to score. In Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, there is no shootout. After regular time is up, there will be a normal 15 minute intermission, followed by one or more sudden-death overtime periods of not more than the usual 20 minutes. The team that scores the first goal wins.

The Stanley Cup

Stanley Cup Playoffs provide the most exciting hockey of the season. After winning a place in the playoffs through their standings in the regular season, the teams go through four-out-of-seven series of games. This means that the team that wins four games out of the possible seven games is the winner and goes on to the next round. Eight teams play in the quarter finals, four teams play in the semi-finals, and then the last two teams battle it out in the playoff finals for the treasured Stanley Cup.

1) The Basic Game    2) Important Rules    3) Playing the Game

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