Ice hockey is played between two teams of skaters on a large flat area of ice, using a three-inch-diameter (76.2 mm) vulcanized rubber disc called a puck. This puck is often frozen before high-level games to decrease the amount of bouncing and friction on the ice. The game is played all over North America, Europe and to varying extents in many other countries around the world. It is the most popular sport in Canada, Finland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Ice hockey is the national sport of Latvia and the national winter sport of Canada. Ice hockey is played at a number of levels, by all ages.
Further information: Minor hockey
The governing body of international play is the 77-member International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Men’s ice hockey has been played at the Winter Olympics since 1924, and was in the 1920 Summer Olympics. Women’s ice hockey was added to the Winter Olympics in 1998. North America’s National Hockey League (NHL) is the strongest professional ice hockey league, drawing top ice hockey players from around the globe. The NHL rules are slightly different from those used in Olympic ice hockey over many categories. International ice hockey rules were adopted from Canadian rules in the early 1900s.
The contemporary sport developed in Canada from European and native influences. These included various stick and ball games similar to field hockey, bandy and other games where two teams push a ball or object back and forth with sticks. These were played outdoors on ice under the name “hockey” in England throughout the 19th century, and even earlier under various other names. In Canada, there are 24 reports of hockey-like games in the 19th century before 1875 (five of them using the name “hockey”). The first organized and recorded game of ice hockey was played indoors in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on March 3, 1875, and featured several McGill University students.
Ice hockey sticks are long L-shaped sticks made of wood, graphite, or composites with a blade at the bottom that can lie flat on the playing surface when the stick is held upright and can legally curve either way, for left- or right-handed players.
Hockey is a sport in which two teams play against each other by trying to maneuver a ball or a puck into the opponent’s goal using a hockey stick. There are many types of hockey such as bandy, field hockey and ice hockey.
Often one variation of the sport, such as field hockey or ice hockey, will predominate in a certain area and be known simply as “hockey”.
The first recorded use of the word hockey is in the 1773 book Juvenile Sports and Pastimes, to Which Are Prefixed, Memoirs of the Author: Including a New Mode of Infant Education by Richard Johnson (Pseud. Master Michel Angelo), whose chapter XI was titled “New Improvements on the Game of Hockey”. The belief that hockey was mentioned in a 1363 proclamation by King Edward III of England is based on modern translations of the proclamation, which was originally in Latin and explicitly forbade the games “Pilam Manualem, Pedivam, & Bacularem: & ad Canibucam & Gallorum Pugnam”. The English historian and biographer John Strype did not use the word “hockey” when he translated the proclamation in 1720.
The word hockey itself is of unknown origin. One supposition is that it is a derivative of hoquet, a Middle French word for a shepherd’s stave.The curved, or “hooked” ends of the sticks used for hockey would indeed have resembled these staves. Another supposition derives from the known use of cork bungs, (stoppers) in place of wooden balls to play the game. The stoppers came from barrels containing “hock” ale, also called “hocky”.