Ice hockey is now a very well-known and popular team sport in the world of sports. This game is widely practiced and popular primarily in Canada, Central, and Eastern Europe, the Nordic countries, Russia, and the United States. Because it is a fascinating and enthusiastic game, it gained so much popularity in a few decades and still is considered one of the most famous and played team sports. But have you ever wondered about the origin of ice hockey? Did you even question the person who thought about the game for the first time? Well, I did.
My curious mind wanted to know about the history and origin of this super-exciting game. So, I started digging into the history and realized that there are still so many controversies and debates regarding the origination of ice hockey.
You must be an ice hockey enthusiast, so you ended up searching for this game’s origin. However, here, I am briefly presenting the most accepted and logical history behind founding the game so that you get your answers without wasting any time researching.
What is Ice Hockey?
Ice hockey is merely ‘hockey’ in Canada, the United States, Nordic countries, and some other European countries. Asia, South America, Africa, Australasia, and some European countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands, know this game as ice hockey because ‘hockey’ refers to the field hockey game to the natives.
Ice hockey is a combined game of skating and hockey. It is a team sport where two teams use their stick to shoot a hockey puck into their opponent team’s net to score points. There are six players in a group where five players skate throughout the ice, control the puck and try to take it into the opponent’s net, and the remaining player is the goaltender who tries to prevent the opponent’s puck from entering their net. An ice-hockey player must be an expert in both games before stepping into ice hockey.
Ice hockey is so prevalent in Canada that it has become Canada’s official national winter sport. This game has become a winter sport in Belarus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Where was ice hockey invented?
There are some debated answers to this question. Various historic annalists have different doctrines regarding the origin of ice hockey. But, almost everyone accepts that this game was known as the simple stick and ball game. It evolved from the stick and ball game to modern ice hockey. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this game was widely famous as a stick and ball game in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. If the scenario is observed briefly, this stick and ball game existed long ago in medieval Europe. But, it didn’t get recognized much then.
Interestingly, it was being played in the United Kingdom under different names even before the 14th century. In Ireland, a game named hurling was played similarly structured to modern field hockey. So, most analysts believe that hurling is the precursor of field hockey. Other ancient games such as IJscolf and knattleikr also have similarities with ice hockey as IJscolf played on ice just like hockey.
Hockey historians stated that the stick and ball game was played on the ice for the first time in Scotland in 1608. It is not sure if players were wearing skates because iron skates were not introduced to the British Isles before 1660. In 1660, the British Royal family introduced skating passion, which they brought from the Netherlands. Since then, skating had been widely famous, and a massive demand for skating has arisen.
Since the mid-1700, people played bandy on ice, which is also considered one of the major precursors of ice hockey. Gradually, playing bandy on the ice became popular, which evolved into modern ice hockey. Within a few years after 1700, official bandy matches on the ice were held in England.
‘Hockey’ was not introduced until a long time after evolving the game. This game was a long time known as hurling, bandy, or shinty. In 1773, Richard Johnson wrote the book Juvenile Sports and Pastimes, where the word ‘Hockey’ was seen for the first time. The title of chapter XI of the book was “New Improvements on the Game of Hockey.” It suggests that this term was used for years before publishing the book. Hockey came from the French word ‘hoquet,’ which means shepherd’s staff. So, hockey was named considering the etymology of the sport.
People used to play hockey with hard wooden balls, whether ground hockey or ice hockey. Around the mid-18th century, England’s people started replacing balls with cork-bungs (barrel plugs) for the game’s convenience. Within a few days, the sport was known as hockey.
In a nutshell, of the discussion above, Ice hockey was first played on skates in England, and the rules were also published in England.
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Who Invented Ice Hockey?
It is a callous question to answer. By discussing, you should develop the idea that an individual didn’t invent the game. Instead, various countries, especially England, and Canada, have contributed a lot in originating and evolving the sport into modern ice hockey. There are two major views on which country originated the sport.
Some historians believe that the Scottish and Irish who lived in Canada introduced this sport in the 18th century. And others claim that the Mi’kmaq Indians of Nova Scotia originated the ice hockey game. The fun fact is that none of them established the tournament as hockey. Both views have similar contexts, and that is, people from that particular territory used to play similar hockey games. However, Mi’kmaq Indians used to play with a block made of wood instead of a wooden ball.
Keeping aside all the views, if we observe and concentrate on hockey’s history, we can be sure that England was the place where hockey originated. But, Canada contributed a lot from 1870 in developing and establishing the rules of modern ice hockey. In 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) declared that Montreal’s first official ice hockey was played. In 1875, the organized rules of hockey were first published in the Montreal gazette 1877. Although Canada is not the actual birthplace of hockey, various Canadian believe Canada to be the originating place of hockey. Canada has developed the game so much that by the 20th century, this country had reshaped the sport with Canadian rules and dominated the international ice hockey world.
The official first match of ice hockey
The first official and organized ice hockey match was played on 3 March 1875 in Montreal. This match was conducted with all the rules maintained, and since then, players follow the rules for ice hockey. Nevertheless, it was the first ‘organized’ ice hockey match but couldn’t be claimed as the first ice hockey match. Two teams concluding with nine players played the game where James George Aylwin Creighton’s team won by 2-1 over Charles Edward Torrance’s team.
Rules and playing of ice hockey
Rules and the gameplay depending on the code used to play. Generally, there are two codes of playing hockey; IIHF and NHL. Both codes follow the Canadian rules of the 20th century.
As I mentioned earlier, six players are needed in a team to play ice hockey. The game’s objective is to shoot or pass the rubber puck with a stick into the opponent’s net to score points. The goaltender stands before the net and prevents opponents from getting the puck into the net area. Players are not allowed to hold the puck with hands or pass it to teammates with hands or kicking unless they are on the defensive team. As hockey is an offside game, players are allowed to forward passing.
A professional hockey match has three periods of twenty minutes. After ending each period, teams have to change their position.
Well, wrapping the article up, I can say that ice hockey originated in England, but Canadian have evolved the sport to today’s modern ice-hockey format.