Hockey 101 (Tweed Minor Hockey Association)

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In simple terms, hockey is a high speed game played on ice with the object being to shoot a small rubber puck into the opposing team's net, scoring a goal for your team. Yet, it has a tendency of growing into more of a life long passion than a game.

Hockey has been ingrained in the culture of Canada. Known also for its numerous lakes and cold winters, it makes sense that the roots of hockey in Canada are tied to early games on frozen ponds and lakes long before indoor ice was available.

Players and Positions

Full ice hockey games are played with six players from each team on the ice, which is considered full strength. (For players age U5,6,7,8,9 games are played cross-ice, which provides them with a more engaging and age-appropriate game experience.) Each team has one goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards. The players are allowed to change with their teammates on the bench during play or stoppages of play following a whistle.

The center is the player that takes the face offs.  Centers are a key position as they often have more defensive responsibilities than the wings but are also expected to produce offensively by scoring goals or setting up their teammates.
The left wing and right wing flank the center on face offs. While they have defensive assignments in their own zone, these two forwards often have a slightly more offensive mindset than centers.  Despite their titles, the wingers are not always confined to one side of the ice.
Defensemen usually are set up behind the forwards. The defensemen’s main objective is preventing the opposition from scoring and assisting the forwards in getting the puck out of the defensive zone.  They can also contribute on the offensive side but usually don't play as deep in the offensive zone.
The last line of defense is the goaltender. The goaltender’s only job is prevent the opponent from scoring. The goalie wears different equipment than the forwards and defensemen, specifically designed to provide more protection and assist them in stopping the puck.

Three Zones of Play

The defensive zone is the area between the goal which your team is defending and the first blue line. This is the zone that your team tries to prevent the opponent from scoring in.

The neutral zone is the area between the two blue lines.

The offensive zone is the area between the second blue line and the opposing team's net. This is the zone in which your team is trying to score.  

During the second period, teams will switch the sides of the ice that they are defending.  Therefore, the zone that was initially their defensive zone becomes their offensive zone and vice versa.  The teams return to their initial nets and zones for the third period.



“A”: Letter worn on the uniform of the assistant team captain. 

Assist: An assist is credited to a player who helps set up a goal. Assists are awarded to the last two offensive players to handle the puck prior to a goal, including those who shoot the puck on net.

Breakaway: A clear scoring opportunity where no defensive player is between the puck carrier and the goaltender.

“C”: Letter worn on the uniform of the team captain.

Crease: Blue semi-circle in front of the goal. Goaltenders receive special privileges and protection while in this area.

Deke: A fake by a player in possession of the puck in order to get around an opponent or to make a goalie move out of position.

Diving: When a player exaggerates being hooked or tripped in an attempt to draw a penalty.

Empty Netter: A goal scored against an opponent that has pulled the goalie for an extra attacker in an attempt to tie the game. This typically happens late in the third period with under two minutes to play in the game.

Forecheck: The way a team's forwards put pressure on the opposing team while in the offensive zone in an effort to keep the puck or take it away from the opposition.

Freezing the Puck: A goalie freezes the puck (when the opposition is threatening to score) by either holding the puck in the glove or trapping it on the ice.

Full Strength: When a team has five skaters on the ice plus their goaltender.

Hat Trick: A player who scores three goals in one game achieves a "hat trick.

Intermission: A break in between each of the three periods. 

One-timer: Shooting the puck immediately upon receiving it without stopping it first.

Penalty Kill: When a team is shorthanded (only four players on the ice) due to a penalty and attempts to prevent the opposition from scoring.

Penalty Shot: A free shot, unopposed except for the goalie, most commonly award to players that have full possession with no opposing player between them and the goalie but are taken down by the opposition.  The team which commits the offense is not penalized beyond the penalty shot, whether it succeeds or not.

Power Play: Happens when a team has a one- or two-man advantage over the opposition due to penalties.

Rink: The ice on which the game of hockey is played. Rinks are typically 200-feet long by 85-feet wide.  This is also referred to as an NHL-sized rink.  Olympic rinks are 200-feet long by 100-feet wide.

Save: When a goalie prevents a shot from going into the net.

Screen: Occurs when one or more players are between the shooter and the goalie, shielding the goalie’s view of the play and incoming shot.

Shot on Goal: An attempt by the attacking team to score a goal by shooting the puck toward the net. This results in either a save or a goal.

Shorthanded: Happens to your team when the opposing team has a one- or two-man advantage due to penalties.

Slap Shot: A slap shot occurs when the player swings the stick back and then quickly forward, slapping the puck ahead with a forehand shot.

Snap Shot: An abbreviated slap shot that occurs without the stick leaving the ice. The purpose of the snap shot is to combine the main advantages of the wrist shot (shot accuracy and quick delivery) and the slap shot (puck speed).

Stick-handling: A term for carrying the puck along the ice with the stick.

Turnover: Losing control of the puck to the opposing team.

Wrist Shot: Players roll their wrists quickly and powerfully to generate a shot. Typically, the most common and accurate type of shot.

Zamboni: The vehicle used to prepare the rink's ice surface before the game and during intermissions. The Zamboni scrapes a thin layer off the ice while also puting down a fresh layer of heated water that freezes to form a new layer of ice.