Have you ever been hanging out with a couple hockey bros and heard the term grocery stick? This piece of hockey terminology is quite widely spread but many fans still do not know its meaning.
The term grocery stick in hockey refers to a player that sits in the middle of the bench breaking up the defensive players from the offensive players.
If a player is sitting in this position it means that they are not going on the ice any time soon. Players going on the ice are usually sitting closer to the end of the bench near the doors onto the ice.
This way players can quickly get on the ice with some going over the boards while others go through the door. The position where the grocery stick sits is going to be near the middle of the bench which means they are not going to get in the way when players are going in and out of the door.
The term grocery stick is hockey is a joke that references the small plastic sticks or dividers that are used when in line at the grocery store.
When putting food down near the cashier at a grocery store customers use these small plastic sticks in order to divide up each other’s food. This way the cashier is able to tell who is buying which food from a quick glance.
The grocery stick in hockey works the same way these players will sit between the defense and the offense. This way the coach can quickly identify which players are forwards or defensemen.
Which Players End Up Being Grocery Sticks?
If you are new to the game of hockey you do not need to be worried about becoming a grocery stick anytime soon. This term is reserved for higher levels of hockey like the NHL in which a lower skill player will receive much less ice time than a skill player.
Below we are going to break down the positions that usually make up a team grocery stick.
One position that often ends up being the grocery stick is the seventh defenseman. On most teams, there are going to be three defensive pairings. These players will usually have one defensive partner that they will play with for the majority of the game.
On some occasions, teams may decide to use seven defensemen instead of the usual six. When this happens the defenseman will rotate who their partner is.
If the rotating pairings aren’t working teams will switch back to three defensive pairings that they will use throughout the game. This leaves one defenseman out to act as the grocery stick on the bench.
Another unofficial position that is often considered a grocery stick is the goon. Though they are not as popular as they used to be in hockey this position is still used by many hockey teams.
In games in which teams are physical, the fighter can be helpful in protecting the team’s star players that may not be as physically gifted as the fighter.
Though there are going to be many games throughout the season in which teams are playing clean, scoring focused hockey.
In these situations, it can actually become detrimental to have a fighter on your hockey team as they usually do not have the skill to match the other players.
During these games, the fighter will often become the grocery stick as his physical strength and fighting abilities are not needed.