Ice hockey, referred to simply as “hockey” in Canada and the United States, is a team sport played on ice. It is one of the world’s fastest sports, with players on skates capable of going high speeds on natural or artificial ice surfaces. The most prominent ice hockey nations are Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Slovakia, and the United States. While there are 64 total members of the International Ice Hockey Federation, those seven nations have traditionally dominated the field for decades. Of the sixty medals awarded in men’s competition at the Olympic level between 1920 and 2002, only six did not go to one of those countries (or a former entity thereof, such as Czechoslovakia or the Soviet Union) and only one such medal was awarded above bronze.
HistoryPodcast 50 – Hockey 6:37 – 6.23MB
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As you may have guessed from todays introduction music this episode will be about the history of Hockey. I am a new fan of this sport since watching the Winter Olympics this year. I have been Tivoing everything I can. This of course has caused a short gap in publishing the TV Listing on the website, don’t worry the listings will come back right after the Olympics are complete, but right now all I’m watching is Hockey!
The word “hockey” comes from the old French word “hocquet”, meaning “stick”. The origins of ice hockey are unclear, but it is widely accepted that the British are responsible for bringing hockey to North America. Soldiers stationed in Nova Scotia, Canada, played the earliest games. In 1879, a group of college students at McGill University in Montreal organized competitions and developed the first known set of hockey rules. The sport migrated south to the United States during the 1890s. The first known hockey games took place between Johns Hopkins and Yale Universities in 1895. The first Olympic Games to include ice hockey for men were the Antwerp Games in 1920. However, the first Olympic Winter Games took place in 1924 in Chamonix.
Ice hockey is a Canadian sport which began in the early 19th century. It is based on several similar sports played in Europe, notably bandy in Scandinavia, and is somewhat similar to the sports of shinny and hurley. Around 1860, a puck was substituted for a ball, and in 1879, two McGill University students, W. F. Robertson and R. F. Smith, devised the first rules, combining field hockey and rugby regulations. Originally, the game was played as a nine-a-side competition. The first recognized team, the McGill University Hockey Club, was formed in 1880. Hockey became the Canadian national sport, with leagues everywhere. In 1894, Lord Stanley of Preston, Governor General of Canada, donated the Stanley Cup, which was first won in 1894 by a team representing the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association. Between the 1880s and World War I, ice hockey became popular in Europe. The first European Championship was played in 1910 at Les Avants in the Swiss Alps, and won by Great Britain. Ice hockey also spread below the border to the United States with the foundation of the United States Amateur Hockey League in New York in 1896.
At the Olympic Winter Games, women compete in an eight-team tournament, whereas men compete in a 12-team tournament. A team must not have more than six players on the ice while play is in progress. Typically, these players are one goalkeeper, two defenders, two wings and one centre. Fewer players can be on the ice as a result of penalties: a goalkeeper can be replaced by a skater during a delayed penalty, or at any other time of the game, at the team’s risk. A regular game consists of three 20-minute periods, with a 15-minute intermission after the first and second periods. Teams change ends for each period. If a tie occurs in a medal-round game in which a winner must be determined, a five-minute sudden-victory overtime period is played. In the gold medal game, a 20-minute sudden-victory period is played subsequent to another 15-minute intermission. In the case of a tie after any sudden-victory period, a game-winning penalty shoot competition takes place to determine the winner.
Ice hockey was played at the 1920 Summer Olympic Games in Antwerp, held in early April. These were also the first world championships and were played by seven-man sides; the only time seven-man teams were ever to play at the Olympic Games. In 1924, the current standard of six men on the ice at a time was used at the Olympic Games. Ice hockey has been played at every Olympic Winter Games. Canada dominated early Olympic ice hockey tournaments, as might be expected. From 1956, when it first entered the Olympic Winter Games and easily won the ice hockey tournament, and until its break-up, the Soviet Union was the pre-eminent country, their dominance interrupted only by American major upset victories in 1960 and 1980. From the 1980s, professional hockey players who had played in the National Hockey League (NHL) were declared eligible to compete in the Olympic ice hockey tournament. These professionals primarily represented Sweden, Finland, and Czechoslovakia at the Olympic Games, as the Canadian and American players were competing in the NHL season. However, at the Nagano Games in 1998, the NHL suspended play for two weeks to allow all NHL players to represent their nations at the Olympic Games. This was repeated in 2002 in Salt Lake City. Women’s ice hockey began to develop in the 1920s in Canada. By the 1960s, women’s ice hockey in Canada became more organized, with girls’ leagues throughout the nation. In 1982, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association organized the first Canadian national tournament. Concurrently, women’s teams and leagues began to develop in the United States and Europe. The first international championship was the World Invitational Tournament in 1987 in Missisauga, Ontario, Canada. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) began to plan a women’s world championship. European women’s championships began in 1989, and the first women’s world ice hockey championship took place in 1990. Women’s ice hockey was approved as an Olympic sport in 1992, and made its debut in Nagano in 1998.
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