Hockey has millions of devoted fans in all parts of the globe. They watch the games played by the best hockey teams with great interest. Famous sportsmen are the real idols for many men and young boys. Bright emotions, incredible combinations and spectacular goals have long become an indispensible element of ice hockey.
This game is the official winter sport in Canada and is one of the strongest and most prestigious leagues in the USA. This kind of sport is popular in every state of the U.S. and hockey games are broadcast on all cable TV channels.
Hockey is considered to have originated in Canada where sports competitions on ice were extremely popular. The elder relative of ice hockey is field hockey which was popular among the British military that stayed in Canada after the war with the French. Because of long winters and harsh Canadian climate the game was adjusted to new weather conditions. Hockey competitions were held on the frozen lakes and rivers. The contemporary game of hockey with players using the puck was first played on a small skating rink in Montreal in 1875.
Originally each team consisted of 9 players who used the wooden discus as the puck and stones as the goal. At first teams played without substitutes and a team member could be replaced only because of the injury. Beginner sportsmen didn’t use any protective gear and wore just light baseball outfit.
The game rules could vary depending on the situation. Some university students from Montreal managed to put down 7 basic rules that served as the basis for developing a complete set of game rules. Some years later several teams formed a sports association, the rules gradually became more complex and regulated and the first code of ice hockey rules was printed in 1886.
The following players were allowed to be on the field at a time:
• 3 forwards
• 2 backs
• 1 goalkeeper
• 1 rover (a strong athlete who moved around the ice rink and scored most goals).
As a rule, first games were held in the open area, usually on a skating rink where the ice was natural and not always perfectly smooth. Later hockey competitions were held in specially constructed buildings with holes in them to ensure the high temperature didn’t hamper the competition.
The first arena with the artificial cooling system was constructed in Canada, the birthplace of ice hockey. Large arenas appeared only in the 1930-s. But Canada is not the only country with the developed sports infrastructure. With the construction of artificial skating rinks hockey becomes not only the winter kind of sports. Many U.S. towns started to create facilities for this kind of sports too. In 1938 the huge sports arena that could accommodate 15 thousand people was built in Chicago. Various international competitions were regularly held there. The Europeans also got interested in ice hockey. International hockey federation was established in May 1908.
By the end of the 19th century more and more men had got interested in a new trendy game. New professional and amateur teams appeared and it was evident that the new kind of sports is going to be popular all over the world soon. The Governor General of Canada Frederick Stanley initiated the practice of awarding a big cup to the winners of competitions now known the Stanley Cup. This became a turning point in ice hockey as the game entered the new level and professional leagues began to appear.
The first international competition was organized only in 1920. A Canadian team easily defeated the British. Currently the best hockey teams from 16 countries compete each year to obtain the title of the best hockey players on the globe.
There is a special uniform designed for a game of ice hockey. Hockey equipment for beginners should consist of:
• a hockey stick made of aluminum or wood
• elbow pads
• a helmet
• a chest pad
• a girdle
• special pants and a jersey
• gloves and leg pads.
In addition, a goalkeeper should have a special face mask and a cage. Purchasing quality hockey equipment is essential for the safety of the sportsman as it protects the player from injuries.
The National Hockey League is the most prestigious hockey competition in which the leading teams from the USA and Canada compete. All beginner sportsmen dream to play on the NHL field for the Stanley Cup one day. The major competitor of this great sports event is KHL with the leading sports club from Russia, Europe and even China participating. Russian hockey players have always been the leaders in the world’s sports ratings. Currently Canada and the USA are included in the so called Big Six of the strongest national hockey teams according to IIHF World Ranking.
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