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Learn More About Ice Hockey

Hockey player scoring a goal

What is the history of ice hockey?

Early forms of the sport originated in Europe on grass fields. The name "hockey" comes from a game banned in Scotland called hokie, where players would knock a ball around with sticks. For thousands of years, field hockey and other games like bandy ball, hurling and shinty were widely popular, and when soldiers immigrated to Canada and the United States in the early 19th century, they brought these games along with them.

Due to the frigid climate, people would play in the winter on ice and snow. The rules and number of players evolved over the years. Some aspects of lacrosse also entered the rink; most notably, the aggressive gameplay. The first game of modern ice hockey took place in Montreal in 1875 and used a circular, wooden disc so that it wouldn't fly out of the arena and injure spectators.

The sport quickly became Canada's most popular and spread across the United States. The National Hockey League (NHL) formed in 1917 and is considered the world's premier league. Teams compete for the Stanley Cup, the oldest trophy still awarded in the modern era.

Hockey at the Olympic Games

After the NHL's creation, ice hockey quickly joined the ranks of Olympic events in 1920. It became part of the Winter Olympics in 1924 and is still in competition today. Women's hockey began in 1998 and historically ends with either Canada or the United States winning over the other.

For the first 30 years, Canada dominated the sport, winning nearly every gold medal, including an 85-point shutout of their three opponents in 1924. The former Soviet Union proved to be a worthy challenger; they went on to win seven gold medals during their existence.

What are the current Olympic ice hockey events?

The current events include men's and women's ice hockey.

Visit USA Hockey to learn more

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