Modern ice hockey has changed little from the original rules established in the 1870s. The biggest changes have been in the number of players and the development of equipment. Now hockey is played with six players on the ice for each team. Also, netting was first added to hockey goals in the early 1900s to stop the puck and show that the puck had actually passed between the goal posts.

Even though modern hockey started in North America, it is not just a North American Sport. In the early 1900s, leagues were playing hockey in Britain and parts of Europe. In 1910, Britain won the first European Ice Hockey Championships.

The 1920 Olympics in Antwerp Belgium became the first to include and ice hockey competition. Canada won the first four Olympic gold medals in the sport. In 1930, the first ice hockey world championships were played. The championships are now played every year except when the Olympics are held.

After World War II hockey took hold in the Soviet Union and the Russians became a force to reckon with on the ice. The Russians won their first Olympic ice hockey gold in 1956, just a decade after the game became an organized sport in their country.

Today, there are junior hockey leagues all around the world. The sport has even moved into placed like Florida, Texas and California. With advances in technology, keeping rinks cold enough for competitive play has become easier and easier, allowing more and more people to experience the sport.

Basic Rules
Ice Hockey is a fast-paced game played on a frozen surface by two teams, comprised of six players each. The object of the game is to place a round, black disc made of vulcanized rubber, the puck, into the opponent’s net using L-shaped hockey sticks. Each team attempts to score more goals than the opposing team. Goaltenders and defensemen are assigned to keep the other team from scoring a goal, while forwards are primarily concerned with scoring goals. For a goal to be scored the puck must entirely cross the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar of the goal frame. The team with the most goals at the completion of play is proclaimed the winner.

Key Terms:
Blue line: The lines separating the attacking/defending zones from the neutral zone

Boards: A wall that surrounds the playing surface

Cross-checking: The act of checking an opponent with the shaft of the stick held in both hands, a penalty

Deke: When a player handles the puck or himself in such a manner to fool the opponent into moving out of position, allowing the player to get past, originated from the word decoy

Faceoff: The method used to begin play at the beginning of a period or after a stoppage of play. The two teams line up in opposition to each other. One player from each team attempts to gain control of the puck after it is dropped by an official between their sticks onto a face-off spot on the ice

Five-hole: The gap between a goaltender’s legs

Forechecking: Checking in the offensive zone in order to gain control of the puck and set up a scoring opportunity

Goal: A goal is scored when the puck crosses completely over the goal line within the goal frame

Hat-trick: When one player scores three goals in one game

High sticking: (1) The act of hitting a player in the head or shoulders with a stick, a penalty (2) Contacting the puck with a stick that is raised above the shoulders. If the puck is subsequently contacted again by the offending player or a teammate before an opponent touches it, the play is blown dead. A goal scored as a result of a puck being contacted by an offensive player’s stick raised above the crossbar shall be disallowed

Hooking: The act of impeding an opponent by placing the blade of a stick into their body, a penalty

Icing: Occurs when a player shoots the puck across both the center red line and the opposing team’s goal line without the puck going into the net or being touched by an opposing player in their neutral or defensive zones

Neutral zone: Area of the ice between the blue lines

Penalty box: The area where a player sits to serve the time of a given penalty

Powerplay: Occurs when one team has more players on the ice than the other team as a result of penalties assessed to the shorthanded team

Slapshot: A hard shot, usually with a big wind up, where the player bends his stick on the ice and allows the energy stored in bending the stick to launch the puck forward

Wrist shot: A type of shot that looks as if the player is “flicking” the puck toward the goal with his wrists

I hope that you have had some fun learning about ice hockey. It is a great sport that combines strength, coordination and endurance. It is also something that anyone can play. Most major cities (and a lot of smaller ones in the northern US) have skating rinks that are used for recreational and league hockey games. Find one in your area, get out there, lace up the skates and give it a try!

Until next time,

Coach Michael

Today’s Fun Fact: The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds.

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