Ice Hockey: Interesting Facts and History

Most of the people have heard about the famous Canadian game, ice hockey. But many of them do not realize that this particular sport holds a great history with it. It is not something that people just made, but it took a long process for ice hockey to become what it is today. What is its history and how this game got so famous, let’s discuss.

History of Hockey

The games involving ball and sticks date back to the start of human civilization. Numerous pieces of evidence suggest that this style of sport has been around for a long time.

However, the hockey we know is entirely different. This game has evolved throughout the decades. And now, it has developed into a sport that every year, millions of players register for.

If you do a little research, you will find out that Canada is considered as the hub of ice hockey even though they adopted this game from other sources. Looking back in history, you will see that the roots of hockey arose from a combination of styles; one Irish and one British. Therefore, it is possible that Canadians learned this sport from their Irish ancestors and then modified it after the involvement of the British army in the country.

Due to multiple roots, the game was given several names like bandy, shinty, and Hurley. Later on, these games evolved into separate sports. For example, Hurley is now our traditional aerial hockey game. On the other hand, bandy and shinty merged into one single sport, which we now call Ice Hockey.

Introduction to Ice Hockey

History suggests that ice hockey was first introduced in 1608 during the great winter in Scotland. This opened up a new dimension of sports for the general public. And due to its popular demand, it became a separate entity, pretty quickly. Soon the British took this new talent to their homeland and started their leagues. This is how the game of ice hockey officially became a separate sport.

But here’s the thing, at that period, there was no such thing as hockey. People arranged their games of shinty or bandy depending on their area of origin and just conducted the sport on ice.

Hence, it was more of a wintertime special rather than an official game. One might say that the ideology behind the game was established, although no roof was there to combine all the aspects.

How was the Name Hockey Decided?

The term hockey is quite a recent one. Back in the days, it was a slang word used to represent a drunk person. Other times, it was a name given to alcohol and other beverages. But how did it become the name of such a popular sport? Let’s learn!

Most people believe that the term hockey is derived from the French word “hoquet,” which means shepherd’s staff. And due to its heavy resemblance with the hockey stick, the sport was named after it.

However, in reality, this name had nothing to do with the stick or its shape. It originated from the puck or the ball that is yet another essential for the game.

In the early days, a wooden ball was used to play hockey. And due to its heavyweight, many players would get hurt and injured. Therefore, they came up with an easy solution that simplified this problem. They replaced the ball with a barrel plug, which reduced the injury rate and also provided some ease in the game process. And since the plug was taken out of a beer barrel, the game was named hockey.

For the longest time, bandy and hockey were used interchangeably. But the name hockey received more popularity and became the official name of the sport.

Rules for Ice Hockey and Canadian Dominance

In the initial times of ice hockey, people used to follow the same rules as field hockey. Because this game first received popularity in England, they published a book containing all the rules and methods to conduct hockey leagues and matches. But unfortunately, the warm weather of England with little to no snow, made it almost impossible to arrange the matches. There was no surety of the weather situations, so they had to stick with the idea of field hockey for a long time.

But in the year 1875, England’s Hockey Association realized the potential of ice hockey and issued its set of rules for the game. This started a new era of ice hockey in the UK and received massive appreciation from the youth. Finally, in the year 1883, the National Skating Association took over the system. They released a new and more refined set of rules that majorly defined the scope of ice hockey in England.

As already mentioned above, England could not offer the required environment of ice hockey due to its weather. But on the other hand, Canada had the best suitable conditions. It was very early on that Canada adopted the rules of the British Hockey Association and arranged their league. But since it was inspired by field hockey, Canadians brought some changes and restructured the game as they found best.

The first and foremost change they made was to replace the rubber ball with an ancient puck. They believed that since it was the inspiration behind the name of the game, it deserved to stay. Also, British rules suggested that every team should contain nine members. But Canada changed this number and decided to put seven members in each team.

While Canadian rules were heavily inspired by the British ones, they still managed to gain popularity. People preferred their style and found it easy to follow. For a short time, there was an overlap between the two organizations, and the hockey players were conflicted everywhere.

But then, the Canadian system took over and became the official capital of the game. The government played a significant role in developing this sport on the national level. And in the year 1920, Canada became the official home of ice hockey.

The Establishment of Stanley Cup

In 1892, governor-general of Canada, Sir Arthur Stanley, decided to arrange a tournament league for ice hockey. He ordered a special bowl as a prize for the winning team. People called it the Stanley Cup, and as the game got more famous, its popularity started to spread worldwide. Therefore, the tournament that was meant to be a fun Canadian activity soon became popular in the entire region of North America.

Since the tournament started, it has been arranged almost every year. The only times it got canceled was either due to some strike or health problems like smallpox and influenza pandemics. Other than that, people religiously celebrate their favorite sport every year with great enthusiasm.

Some Facts about Ice Hockey

  • The All-time Famous Name “Shinty”

As funny as this name sounds, a quite interesting story is attached to it. In the wooden ball days of hockey, players would get hurt in the shin area mostly. This produced the concept of the word shinty, and people informally started to call hockey as the game of shinty.

  • The Original Stanley Cup

The current Stanley Cup is the replica of the original design that was selected by Sir Stanley. When the tournament was limited to Canada only, every winning team would add a plate and engrave their name on it. But eventually, it got so big that it seemed pointless to continue the original trophy, and to get a new one became an absolute necessity.

Right now, the original Stanley cup is displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

  • The Ancient Tradition of Puck Drop

Before 1906, it was a popular tradition for the referee to drop the puck between the opposing teams. Obviously, it was created to follow the concept of other ball games. But as the puck was smaller and heavier, a lot of players got injured because of this tradition. As a result, it was discontinued.


Ice hockey is one of the most popular games worldwide, especially in colder regions. It has a distinct importance, especially in the region of North America. This sport dates back to ancient times and has been loved by people always.

Canada is the main center of this particular sport and is known as the capital of ice hockey. Every year, the Annual Champion’s Tournament of the Stanley Cup is arranged in Canada in order to celebrate this great game of all time.