Ice hockey is one of the most popular winter sports in the UK. It is also especially popular in Canada and the northern regions of the United States and Europe.
The National Hockey League (NHL) is the highest hockey competition in North America and is composed of teams coming from USA and Canada.
Ice hockey is actually is the national sport of Canada, but it’s no less popular in Scandinavia, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic and Ukraine. It is normal for people from the colder parts of Europe and North America, with all the snow and ice throughout the year, to regularly play hockey.
Ice hockey is depicted by some as being the offspring of lacrosse in North America, but others say that hockey has evolved in Europe, especially in the northern parts.
It is most likely that ice hockey is very much different compared to similar games played with sticks. The most definite facts about modern hockey come from the mid 1800s when hockey was being conceived.
The first hockey game played out as an organized event happened in Montreal on 3rd March, 1875.
Modern ice hockey is definitely the product of Canada, since the first hockey games that were logged in the history of Canada’s ice hockey were played out in the 1850s, while the 1870s witnessed the arrival of the first set of ice hockey rules written by the students of the McGill University in Montreal.
Until these rules ice hockey was played with a ball instead of a puck, and the number of players per team was nine.
In 1880 the first amateur hockey league was created and in the next couple of years ice hockey was spread all over Canada gaining popularity with each game played. A decade later United States embraced the sport and people began playing massively.
The first Winter Olympics ice hockey game was played in Chamonix, France in 1924, while in early April 1920 the first hockey game was played in the Olympic Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium. Both events were won by Canada.
This tournament is famous as the first World Hockey Championship. The Ice Hockey World Championships are annual men’s ice hockey tournament for national ice hockey teams, just as the World Cup in football or in other sports, and it is organised by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
As an individual event the World Championship was first held in 1930 in three different cities – Chamonix, Vienna and Berlin. Twelve different nations participated in this important international event, but not Canada.
All the other nations played an elimination tournament, while the final game was played between Germany and Switzerland and the medal went to the Germans.
Ice hockey today
Ice Hockey these days attracts huge crowds, not only in countries like Finland and Canada where it is the most popular of sports, but also countries like Russia, Czech Republic and Germany. Basically, it is popular in every country that has a domestic league.
Even Elite Ice Hockey League matches in the UK gather crowds as large as 7,000. One clear example of how popular it is, is the fact it is offered by all major sports betting operators – you’ll find all the details laid out here.
(Image permission: Press Eye)