Ice Hockey (as opposed to field hockey and street hockey), is a team sport played on an ice rink. The object of the game is to get a puck into the opposing team's goal (a small net). The game consists of three periods of twenty minutes each. In case of tie, there is a "sudden death" overtime period or a series of "shootouts". Each team consists of six players; three "forwards," (left wing, right wing, center) two "defensemen" (left defenseman, right defenseman) and a "goalie."
The sport is popular in Canada, some Northern and Eastern European Countries (notably Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia and Finland) and many parts of the United States (notably the northern midwest and the East Coast region).
The top professional league in North America is the National Hockey League (NHL), and the league championship trophy is called the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. The Montréal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup 23 times, the most of any team in the league.
Stick and ball games on ice had been played for decades before 1875 especially in the Maritimes and at military garrisons. In its modern form hockey was standardizes by McGill students in 1875 under rules brought to Montreal by Haligonian J.G.A. Creighton. The game rapidly spread nationwide. The Stanley Cup was created in 1893 by Lord Stanley, Canada's governor general. Almost exclusively a Canadian sport, ice hockey was seasonal, without uniform rules, played outdoors informally whenever and wherever there was available a large enough piece of ice; with its severely cold setting, the sport attracted virtually no spectators. Professional teams emerged after 1900. Five cities in the U.S. and Ontario formed the International Hockey League (IHL) in 1904. The American-based league marked the beginning of the professionalization of ice hockey. The IHL attracted high-caliber players from Canada, thus depleting that country's stock. Although many Canadian amateur teams secretly paid their players, most Canadian hockey associations still embraced the principles of amateurism. The IHL existed for only three years, but that was long enough to spark the creation of a Canadian-based professional league, the Ontario Professional Hockey League, in 1908. Though some have attributed the IHL's short life to a lack of spectators, the primary reason the league failed was a loss of good players back to Canadian teams that by 1906 played in hockey associations, such as the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association, that allowed professionals to play alongside amateurs. The National Hockey League was formed in (1917).
The extremes of masculinity and violence ignited the Ottawa Silver Seven and Montreal Wanderers rivalry of 1907. Newspapers depicted the game as a combination of "brutal butchery" and "strenuous spectacle," speaking to public perceptions and different ways of experiencing the game. Ideals of respectable, middle-class masculinity and rough, working-class masculinity co-existed within accounts of fast, skilled, rugged, hard-hitting hockey.
Facing severe economic pressures during the Great Depression, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association was forced to reevaluate its purist position on amateurism in ice hockey and to rethink its relation to the amateur sports infrastructure in Canada, which was headed by the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada. The poor performance of the defending champion Canadian hockey team at the 1936 Olympics, in a context of international dispute over player eligibility and the authority of national bodies to determine that eligibility, crystallized the problems Canadian hockey faced and led to substantial changes in policies and procedures.
Despite being excluded from Winnipeg's senior hockey league for the 1919-20 season, the Winnipeg Falcons, made up of the children of Icelandic immigrants, became Canadian national champions and won the 1920 Olympic gold medal in Antwerp. Combined with their willingness to serve Canada in World War I, their success made this team a symbol of Canadian manhood, unaffected by the ethnic stereotyping and discrimination that affected some other sports teams during the 1920s.
Maurice "Rocket" Richard, (1921–2000) is one of the nation's most important sports icons, especially in Quebec. Playing for the Montreal Canadiens (1942–60) he scored 544 regular season goals and 82 more in playoffs. Famed for his dashing style of play, his intensity, determination, and scoring prowess, Richard the first 50-goal scorer in NHL history in 1944-45, with a 50-game schedule. Richard was named to the All Star team 14 times, won two Hart trophies as league MVP, and led the Canadiens to eight Stanley Cups.
In September 1972, Canada's best hockey players from the National Hockey League (NHL) played the elite amateurs from the Soviet Union in a friendly series. When Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau met his Soviet counterpart, Aleksei Kosygin, in 1971, their discussions included increasing the hockey competitions between the two countries. Soon after, hockey hierarchies of both nations decided on a series of eight games, four to be played across Canada and four in Moscow. For Canadians, the Summit Series was intended to be a celebration of their global supremacy in ice hockey. The architects of Soviet hockey, on the other hand, had designs on surprising Canada and the world with their skill and claiming the Canadian game as their own. Over the course of the month, the games captured the imagination of both nations. Far beyond any hockey match, the series pitted East against West - communism against capitalism - and many of the players were swept away with the sense of history in the making that the games engendered. What was to be a friendly contest became instead a politically charged event with extensive cultural repercussions - quite literally, a Cold War.
See also Canadian sports
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