Ice Hockey Facts
Ice hockey is a sport that involves two teams of skaters competing on ice to fire pucks into the net guarded by the opposing team. A team consists of six players in total: five regular players and one goaltender. How many of these fun ice hockey facts did you know?
- Ice Hockey is played primarily in Europe and North America: It is known as Canada’s most popular winter sport, and also holds the same distinction in Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland and many other European nations.
- The first game of the sport recognised as ice hockey was played in Montreal, Canada in 1875: Two teams of nine players took part in the game, which was held at the Victoria Skating Rink. Instead of a puck, a round piece of wood was used.
- At its peak, the Victoria Skating Rink was famed for being one of the best rinks in the world: It was first opened in 1862, but by 1925 it was sold and demolished. In modern times it is being used as a car park.
- In terms of absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population playing the sport, ice hockey is most popular in Canada: A total of 631,000 Canadians are registered ice hockey players, which is approximately 1.7% of the total population. Finland (1.3%) and the Czech Republic (1.1%) are other nations where ice hockey is particularly popular.
- The world record attendance for an ice hockey game was set in 2010, when the Michigan Wolverines soundly defeated the Michigan State Spartans 5-0: The match was played at an outdoor rink setup at Michigan Stadium. Over 104,000 spectators crowded in to watch the game, in an event that would become known as “The Big Chill at the Big House“.
- While it sounds unlikely do to the distinctly warmer climate, ice hockey in Africa does exist and is a growing sport: Several nations across Africa competed in a tournament in 2009 in South Africa, and attempts have been made over the years to setup an ongoing regional league.
- Ice hockey was first contested at the 1924 Winter Olympics and has been held at each event since: Canada’s team initially dominated, but from 1956 to 1988 the Soviet Union won all the gold medals (with the exception of the US in 1960).
- Fighting is so prevalent in ice hockey that it merits its own Wikipedia page! Fights are quite common in professional league games, despite the penalties on offer for misconduct. There is actually etiquette regarding fighting written into the rules of the NHL: players engaging in a fight must drop their sticks and remove their gloves before fighting can commence.