Today we are familiar with several of hockey forms – the most popular is ice hockey, especially in Canada.
Ice hockey is played on a hockey rink. During normal play, there are six players on ice skates on the ice per side, one of them being the goaltender. The objective of the game is to score goals by shooting a hard vulcanized rubber disc, the puck, into the opponent’s goal net at the opposite end of the rink. The players use their sticks to pass or shoot the puck.
With certain restrictions, players may redirect the puck with any part of their body. Players may not hold the puck in their hand and are prohibited from using their hands to pass the puck to their teammates unless they are in the defensive zone. Players however can knock a puck out of the air with their hand to themself. Players are prohibited from kicking the puck into the opponent’s goal, though unintentional redirections off the skate are permitted. Players may not intentionally bat the puck into the net with their hands.
Ice hockey tends to be a dangerous sport. Protective equipment is highly recommended and is enforced in all competitive situations. This usually includes a helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, mouth guard, protective gloves, heavily padded shorts, a ‘jock’ athletic protector, shin pads/chest protector and a neck guard.
Stick-and-ball games date go back to the pre-Christian era in Iran. The game of polo is very similar to many group games such as ice hockey, and probably the main idea of the game of hockey was taken from this polo. In Europe, these games included the Irish game of hurling, the closely related Scottish game of shinty and versions of field hockey (including bandy ball, played in England).
As for most sports, the origins of ice hockey have long been the subject of debate. Some contend the game was borne of the transposition of imported, and already existing, sports such as hurley or field hockey onto the frozen lakes and ponds of North America during the early 1800s. Others suggest this was preceded by a form of the game played by the indigenous populations of Canada and the northern United States. Then again, some argue, pointing to paintings from seventeenth-century Europe, that even
these versions of ice hockey had their antecedents.
The bent or curved sticks used in bandy are similar to those used in early versions of cricket and golf. This has contributed to further confusion and debate among hockey historians. Many paintings by Dutch or Flemish artists in the early modern period depict the game of “kolf” (an early version of golf) played on ice with skates and using bent sticks. The most famous is The Hunters in the Snow (1565) by Pieter Bruegel. Some people have mistaken the games depicted in these paintings for early versions
of ice hockey, but it is unlikely that any of them depicted a team sport.
The term “hockey,” according to The Canadian Encyclopedia, can be traced to a 1773 book published in England called Juvenile Sports and Pastimes. But the name may pre-date this earliest known reference. A version of the game played on ground—field hockey—evolved during the period, too.
In Great Britain, newspapers as early as the 1840s referenced hockey played on ice. A Scottish newspaper reported in 1842 about a fatality during a hockey game involving about 20 participants skating on a canal: “The ice suddenly broke in, and several were immersed, but rescued, except an unfortunate lad.”
In 1864, the Prince of Wales played hockey on a lake with a London skating club. “The game was kept up with great animation until 2 o’clock,” a London newspaper reported, “when the prince and the players repaired to the Fishing Temple, where they partook of a sumptuous luncheon.”
The modern sport of ice hockey was developed in Canada, most notably in Montreal, where the first indoor game was played on March 3, 1875.
By the late 1800s ice hockey competed with lacrosse as Canada’s most popular sport. The first national hockey organization, the Amateur Hockey Association (AHA) of Canada (which limited players to seven a side), was formed in Montreal in 1885, and the first league was formed in Kingston during the same year, with four teams: the Kingston Hockey Club, Queen’s University, the Kingston Athletics, and the Royal Military College. Queen’s University scored a 3–1 victory over the Athletics in the first championship game.
The Stanley Cup, emblematic of ice hockey club supremacy, was initially commissioned in 1892 as the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup” and was first awarded in 1893 to recognize the Canadian amateur champion and later became the championship trophy of the National Hockey League (NHL). In the early 1900s, the Canadian rules were adopted by the Ligue Internationale de Hockey Sur Glace, in Paris, France, the precursor of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
The sport was played for the first time at the Olympics during the 1920 Summer Olympics.
In 1949, a magazine in the Soviet Union claimed the sport was invented and perfected in Russia in the mid-19th century. But those claims may be dubious.