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A beginner’s guide to hockey slang

Wheel, snipe, celly bud

Calgary Flames v Seattle Kraken Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

Every sport has a language of its own. Hockey is no different. If you’ve been around the game for a long time, you’re probably familiar with most of it. But to the newer fan whose interest has picked up with the arrival of Seattle’s first National Hockey League team, it could get a little confusing hearing people yell about Jared McCann’s big clapper out of context. Never fear, we have a solution.

Here is a (not definitive by any means) list of some of the most common slang terms in hockey. Carry this wherever you go until referring to Brandon Tanev’s lettuce becomes second nature.

Gino: A goal (not to be confused with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni “Geno” Malkin)

Apple: An assist

Bar down: A goal that hits the crossbar before going in the net

Snipe: A particularly accurate shot, perhaps one that even goes bar down

Lettuce: Hair

Flow: Also hair

Zebra: Referee

Clapper: A really hard slap shot

Lumber/Twig: A hockey stick, a legacy from when they were actually made out of wood

Top Shelf: A shot that heads towards the upper portion of the net

Celly: A goal celebration

Dangle: A fancy puck-handling move. See Pavel Datsyuk’s entire career for prime examples of some dirty dangles:

Mitts: Gloves. You drop your mitts in a fight, or you’ve got some silky smooth mitts if you’re showcasing your puck handling ability

Biscuit: The puck

Pylon: A skater who is about as useful and mobile on the ice as a cone used during practice

Chirp: Trash talk

Sauce: Comes from saucer pass, a pass that is elevated off the ice to get over defenders’ sticks. Putting some sauce on a pass means getting it in the air

Tilly: A fight

Scrap: Also a fight

Scrum: Not a fight but pretty close

Facewash: When one player rubs their glove in the face of another player, happens quite often in a scrum

Chel: Refers to the EA Sports video game franchise

As the game has been around for a century now, the list does go on. But that’s a pretty good ice-breaker to get you up and running. Now let’s take a brief moment to talk about nicknames.


You’ll rarely see the simple usage of a player’s first or last name during interviews with their teammates, and that’s because the players themselves are seemingly incapable of doing so. Instead, everyone gets a nickname in the locker room. A list of player nicknames would be far too exhaustive, so here’s a two-step guide that should help you guess them going forward.

  1. Pick one syllable from the player’s name
  2. Add either “-y” or “-er” or “-o” to the end, or pluralize the chosen syllable

Here are some examples, using the Kraken’s presumptive top-line heading into the season opener:

  • Jordan Eberle → Ebs
  • Jared McCann → Canner
  • Jaden Schwartz → Schwartzy

There will always be some exceptions, like Artemi Panarin aka “Breadman,” but that should start you off on the right foot going forward. Did we miss one? Sound off in the comments below with your favorite!