What Is the 5 Hole in Hockey? Explained for Beginners


If you are a new or casual fan of hockey, you may have heard the term “5 hole,” before. If you’re confused as to what this means, look no further. In hockey, the 5 hole is a term used to describe the space between the legs of the goaltender. 

Why is it called the 5 hole?

So, now we know that 5 hole means the space in between the legs of the goalkeeper. Why is it called that, though? Well, the answer is simpler than you might think. 

You see, there are 5 places you can shoot a hockey puck that is likely not to get blocked by the goalkeeper. If you consider these 5 “holes,” then the “5 hole” is one of these. 

The other four places to shoot aren’t often called the “1 hole” or the “4 hole” for instance, but described in more detail. Which ones are one, two, three, and four is up for debate and changes depending on who you talk to? However, the “5 hole” always stays the same. 

The first four “holes” are as follows. When the goalkeeper is standing in the ready position, ready to block shots, there are 5 open spaces where a puck can slide through for the score. 

Stick side, high: This is the upper corner of the goal on the side of the goal where the goalie’s stick arm is. The stick is not often used to block here, however. 

Stick side, low: This is the lower corner of the goal on the side of the goal where the goalie’s stick arm is. The stick is often used to block this shot. This area extends all the way down to the ice and is often defended by the stick or the leg pad. 

Glove side, high: This is the upper corner of the goal on the side of the goal where the goalie’s glove arm (or non-stick arm) is. This is often blocked by the glove. 

Glove side, low: This is the lower corner of the goal on the side of the goal where the goalie’s glove arm is. This extends all the way down to the ice. The glove or leg pad is often used to defend this area. 

These four holes are considered, but never called, the one, two, three, and four holes. That means there is only one more spot to shoot!

The “5 hole” is right between the goalie’s legs. So, short answer, it is called the 5 hole because it is the fifth commonplace that you can shoot a hockey puck to try and get it past the goalkeeper.  

Common uses

Hockey is a sport filled with slang and jargon that many non-fans wouldn’t understand. 5 hole is no different, and is used in strange and fun ways that do not fit conventional grammar norms. 

For instance, you wouldn’t say “I shot the puck through the 5 hole.” Instead, hockey players normally say things like “I shot 5 hole,” or “I went 5 hole” to describe putting the puck between the goalkeeper’s legs. 

When to shoot 5 hole?

5 hole isn’t a term for no reason. In sport, things that need to be referred to quickly and very often sometimes have nicknames or slang associated with them to make things easier. Going 5 hole is a very common shot, so it needs its own term as well. 

The best time to shoot 5 hole is when you are close to the goal. This is because the goalie has less time to close their legs, meaning it can be an easy score. If a player is close to the goal and the 5 hole is open, it is recommended they snap a quick shot between the goalie’s legs. 

On the other hand, it is foolish to shoot 5 hole when you are far away from the net. This gives the goalie a lot of time to close his legs. Because it’s such a small hole, this makes a far away 5 hole an extremely difficult and low probability shot. 

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when did the term 5 hole come about?

So when did the term 5 hole come about? It’s actually a fairly recent development. According to a report in the Star Tribune, (which can be read here) Jaques Plante, a former goaltender of the Montreal Canadiens, first coined the term in 1972. 

This is up for debate, however, and some think that the term 5 hole really came about in the 80s or 90s. Some even claim to be able to pinpoint the coining of the term, being credited to David Neal, who stated that Pavel Bure scored 5 hole on Jeff Hackett. 

There are even some who claim it comes from bowling. You see, in bowling, the centermost pin is the fifth pin. Many think this is the origin of the term, as the 5 hole is the center and bottom of the net.

Similarly, in Canadian bowling, the center pin is worth five points. Hockey is quite popular in Canada as well, so many believe this is the origin of the term. 

What are the 6-hole and 7-hole?

Recently, there are even people who have started referring to a 6 hole and a 7 hole. These are underneath the goalie’s left armpit and right armpit. Although these terms aren’t considered as widespread or accepted as 5 hole yet, people who know hockey will more than likely know what you’re talking about. 

The reason these aren’t considered the 5 hole, or any of the other “holes” is that they are not in the corners of the net or between the legs of the goalie. They are closer to the middle of the net and are their own unique challenge to hit. This is why some players felt the need to create a new term for them!

Recap

So if you’re looking for a short answer, the 5 hole is the hole between the goalie’s legs when they’re in the “ready” position. Plenty of players love to go 5 hole. Not only is it a good shot tactically, it looks pretty cool to boot!

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