Varsity Ice hockey 101: What You Need to Know

Got tickets for Varsity Ice hockey but have no idea what ice hockey is all about? You’re not the first. Ice hockey is hardly the most glamorised sport in the UK, but that doesn’t mean that the Nottingham Varsity game won’t be a great evening out, whether you’re an ice hockey first timer or a seasoned veteran. To help out those of you who are a bit green, here’s a need-to-know glossary with all the terms you’ll need on the night. Enjoy!

Assist: The pass or passes which create a successful scoring attempt.
Attacking zone: The area between the opponents’ blue line and their goal.
Backhand shot: A shot or pass made using the back of the player’s stick. Although these shots are not very powerful, they can be executed quickly and take the goalkeeper by surprise.
Blue lines: Two blue lines running parallel across the ice. They divide the rink into three zones called the attacking, defending and centre zones. The defending blue line is the line closer to a player’s own net. The attacking blue line is the one farther from his net.
Boarding or board-checking: Foul play which involves a player using any method to throw an opponent violently into the boards, using excessive force.
Body check: When a player bumps or slams into an opponent with either his hip or shoulder. It is only allowed against an opponent in control of the puck or against the last player to control it.
Breakaway: A chocolate bar made by Nestle, quite tasty. Also when an attacker with the puck breaks away from his opponents, allowing him to skate in alone on the goalie without any defenders impeding his scoring attempt.
Centre ice: The area between the two blue lines; the middle zone.
Charging: Foul play which occurs when a player takes more than two steps when body checking an opponent.
Crease: The semi-circular area in front of the goal.
Cross-checking: Basic road safety, and also a foul play which occurs when a player holds his stick in both hands and drives the shaft into an opponent. Ouch.
Defensive zone: The zone nearest a team’s goal (the goal they are defending).
Deke or deking: A decoying or faking motion by the puck-carrier which tricks the defensive player into believing you are going to pass or move in a certain direction when you are not.
Face-off: A popular film from 1997 starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. In ice hockey, the method of starting play. The official drops the puck between the sticks of two opposing players, who then attempt to win possession of the puck with their sticks and/or skates.
High-sticking: Foul play which occurs when a player holds his stick above the height of his opponent’s shoulders and hits or threatens the opponent with it.
Hooking: Foul play which occurs when a player attempts to impede the progress of another player by hooking any part of the opponent’s body with the blade of his stick.
Icing: A violation which occurs when the team in possession of the puck shoots it from behind the red centre line into the end of the rink and a member of the opposing team touches it first. It results in a face-off in the offender’s defensive zone. A shorthanded team cannot be called for icing.
Line change: When players on the ice are switched with players sat on the bench. Kind of like a mass substitution.
Offside: A violation which occurs when both skates of an attacking player cross the opponent’s blue line before the puck is passed or carried into the attacking zone. This is one of the most common calls made and results in a face-off.
Overtime: An additional period of play at the end of a game used to break a tie. The first team to score wins.
Power play: When an attacking team has one or more players on the ice than the defending team due to the defending team losing a player or players temporarily for foul play.
Pulling the goalie: Taking the goalkeeper off the ice and replacing him with a forward. This leaves the goal unguarded so is only used as a last minute attempt to score.
Shorthanded: A team with one or more players off the ice for foul play, when the opponent has its full team of 6 players, is shorthanded.
Slap shot: An extremely powerful shot which has more power but less accuracy than a wrist shot. The player raises their stick in a backswing and brings it down with force, slapping the ice just before hitting the puck. The ice bends the stick, giving the shot more power.
Wrist shot: A shot made using a strong flicking of the wrist and forearm muscles, dragging the stick along the ice before releasing the puck. It is slower but more accurate than a slap shot.

If all else fails, a red-light will signal any goals, so cheer loud.

Peter Klein

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