Hockey has its own language. A little English, a little French, a whole lot more Eastern European than it used to be. And, of course, a good helping of locker room talk.
Or, as Gordie Howe once famously said, “All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity.”
Except, in hockey, it isn’t a locker room. It’s a dressing room. And they don’t wear jerseys. They wear sweaters. And there’s a whole bunch of other hockey slang you might want to learn if you don’t want people to think you’re a hoser.
At which most Canadians will roll their eyes, because nobody says it anymore. Everybody thinks it came from Bob and Doug McKenzie, a couple of characters on an old TV show, which it didn’t. It derives from pre-Zamboni days when losing hockey teams had to water down the ice — thus, hoser = loser.
Anyway, here’s a sampling of some of hockey’s most common slang:
Apple: An assist.
Basket: The net.
Beautician: A talented player who is popular both with his teammates and the ladies.
Biscuit: The puck (as in “put the biscuit in the basket”).
Bottle rocket: A goal that breaks the goaltender’s water bottle (which typically rests on the net behind the crossbar).
Bucket: A helmet (alternatively, “brain bucket”).
Chirp: To talk trash (as in “knock off the chirpin’ or you’re gonna be spittin’ chiclets”).
Clapper: A powerful slap shot.
Dangle: The act of maintaining or the ability to maintain puck possession amid numerous opponents by stickhandling around or through them.
Dusty: A player who gets little ice time.
Dusts it off: When a defenseman briefly handles the puck and gets it to an offensive player.
Facewash: Putting your glove, palm first, into an opponent’s face to irritate them.
Five-hole: The gap between the goalie’s legs.
Flow: Great hockey hair.
Gordie Howe hat trick: When a player scores a goal, registers an assist and gets in a fight in the same game.
Grenade: A bad pass that bounces erratically toward a teammate.
Hat trick: One player scoring three goals in a single game. Traditionally, this prompts spectators to throw their hats on the ice.
Lettuce: See “Flow”.
Light the lamp: To score a goal (signaled by the goal judge turning on a red light behind the net).
Lip lettuce: A mustache.
Pigeon: A player who can’t score on his own (relying on others to “feed” him, as one would the birds in the park).
Pylon: An extremely slow player who is easily skated around.
Salad: See “Lettuce”.
Sin bin: The penalty box.
Snipe: A well-placed shot resulting in a goal, frequently entering the net without the goalie touching it.
Stoned: Having one’s shot stopped by a great save.
Top shelf: The area just below the crossbar.
Twig: A hockey stick — though wood was long ago replaced, first by aluminum, then by composites, as the stick material of choice.
Wheeling: The act of picking up women. A “beautician” can wheel the ladies.
Wraparound: Taking the puck behind the net and trying to score on the other side.
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