Hockey Positions Explained

As we’ve mentioned on our resource site previously, hockey shares a lot in common with basketball. The NHL and NBA are very like-minded in their respective approaches to the game. In fact, some people call hockey “basketball on ice” due to the many similarities. Another similar area between hockey and basketball is that hockey teams also have five starting positions, putting five players on the ice to play up and down the ice. You might not find any seven-footers, but the five positions aren’t all that dissimilar from positions in other sports.

Since I engage in legal hockey betting myself, I’ve found that knowing the teams inside and out as well as the players really helps me cap the games. I guess that’s sort of a given, but the more you understand about the different positions in hockey, the better you will fair in your betting excursions. Some goalies have a trend of shutting certain teams down on the defense side of the puck, while other players might have trends for always scoring on a particular team. Needless to say, the more information you have, the better you will do.


The goalie position is known as the toughest job in sports. Having to wear pounds of padding and extra protective gear, a goalie’s only job is to guard the net against a flying block of rock that’s frozen. The goalie not only defends against shots, but the more active a goalie is, as in deterring shots, the more confidence a team gains. Goalies are usually as tough as they come.


Known as defensemen in the US, and defenseman in Canada, this is a position that a team at full strength usually has on both the right and left-side of the ice. Some teams even have a third type of defensemen position opened up for an offensive-minded, creative player who seeks to turn his defense into instant offense. The other main type of defensemen is the strictly defensive-minded player who focuses on stopping the other team’s approach. Then, of course, you have players who can act as a combination of the two.

Right Wing

A right wing player in hockey plays, of course, on the right-side of the ice. This player has to be fast, talented, and very tenacious. He is solely responsible for the other team’s left defensemen and must provide a solid defensive zone against inbound players. While most great right wing players are also great all-around players, the right wing focuses primarily on one area of the ice.

Left Wing

Basically, the left wing is just like the right wing, only reversed on the ice. Where they share differences in the modern age, however, can easily make or break a team. For instance, more and more teams are looking to put left-handed players on the left wing, for better angled shots and an ability to dig awkward pucks out of the corner at different angles than the other team can. In other words, the left wing in hockey is becoming a specialty position that not too many can excel at.


Centers are all-around players that are a little like quarterbacks in the NFL and point guards in the NBA. They basically control the offense out on the ice. This player operates the action at both ends, and he must excel at passing the puck, calling plays, competing in faceoffs, and it doesn’t hurt if the center is also a great shot and can score a lot. Most of all, however, a center needs to know hockey inside and out. He must have a big hockey IQ.

The only other position you may be wondering about is an enforcer. While this isn’t technically a real position, an enforcer is more like a colloquial position and usually involves a defensemen or wing player who comes off the bench in order to settle scores. An enforcer is a bruiser who can fight and pummel the other team’s players if needed.