Do you speak ice hockey?

If you feel like you need a dictionary every time you watch winter sports, has you covered. We'll explain the vocabulary behind the sports you’ll see at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. The next glossary is about ice hockey.

By Ilya Yashynin
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

The basic rules of ice hockey can be understood by watching the game, however a deeper understanding of the nuances is sure to give you a greater appreciation of the sport. Here you can discover the basic terms of ice hockey ahead of the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

Ice hockey’s field of play

  • Ice hockey rink: An ice strip bound by boards, on which ice hockey matches take place. The length of the rink can range from 56m to 60m with the width ranging from 26m to 30m.
  • Boards: The fences that surround the ice hockey rink. Transparent barriers made of impact-resistant glass are installed over the boards all around the perimeter of the rink.
  • Zones: Sections of the rink that are divided by a line. There is a defensive zone, an attacking zone and a centre ice (a neutral zone between the attacking and defensive zones of each team).
  • Face-off circles: Face-off zones with a radius of 4.5m, the centres of which are located 6m from the goal.
  • Goal crease: A blue area in front of the goal. If a player from the attacking team is deemed to have intentionally encroached into the goal crease at the moment a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

Ice hockey equipment

  • Puck: A sports projectile made of vulcanised rubber, which players attempt to hit into the opponent's goal with the help of a stick.
  • Stick: A long, slender pole with a flat hook at the end made of carbon or wood, which is used for shooting, passing and stickhandling. The size of the stick depends on the height and weight of the player using it.
  • Hockey skates: Special ice skates used by hockey players to move across the ice and protect the foot from injury.
  • Goal: A construction made of two vertical bars and a horizontal crossbar, with a net attached to the back of it. Ice hockey players attempt to score by hitting the puck into the goal.
Ice hockey at Sochi 2014
Picture by Getty Images

Ice hockey scoring

  • Match: An ice hockey game that consists of three periods of 20 minutes net time, as well as breaks between periods of 15 minutes. In case of a draw at the end of the match, overtime and/or a shootout may take place.
  • Goal: A goal is scored when a puck hits the opponent's net without breaking the rules. The puck must cross the goal line completely. The team that scores more goals wins the match.
  • Face-off: A puck is thrown into the field of play by the referee at the start of the match or to resume play after the game has been stopped. From the moment the puck is thrown in, net match time begins.
  • Icing: An infraction when a player shoots the puck over the centre red line and the opposing team's red goal line, in that order, and the puck remains untouched without scoring a goal.
  • Power play/shorthanded: A numerical player advantage, or vice versa, when a player of one of the teams is removed from the match for a certain period of time for violating the rules.
  • Penalty shot: A type of penalty awarded for an infringement by the defending side when the opponent is one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Players from both teams, with the exception of the shooter and the goalkeeper of the other team, are required to leave the rink. On the command of the referee, the hockey player taking the penalty shot picks up the puck at the central throw-in point, proceeds to the opponent's goal and attempts to score.
  • Overtime: Additional time, which is allocated by the referee at the end of three periods when the score is tied. The overtime period determines the winner and lasts until the first goal is scored. If no team scores during the overtime period, a shootout takes place.

Ice hockey team

  • Goalkeeper: A player whose main aim is to stop the opposing team from scoring by protecting their goal. The goalkeeper has additional equipment including a mask, shields and a trap, while their stick is wider than a field player's.
  • Defender: A player responsible for organising the defense in his own zone, and in the attacking role, not allowing the puck out of the opponent's zone. The team has nominally two defensemen on the ice.
  • Attacker: A player responsible for organising the attack and winning throw-ins. The hockey five has three forwards: one centre and two wingers.

Ice hockey at Beijing 2022

The Wukesong Sports Centre and National Indoor Stadium will share hosting duties for the ice hockey competitions at Beijing 2022. The matches will take place from 3 February - 20 February 2022


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