Hockey History For more than a century, hockey historians have found that precisely tracing the sports origin is not only a difficult task but, a virtual impossibility. Therefore I can only try to deduce for myself, from the records, claims, and accounts, which are available to me, when, where, and by whom the first ice hockey was played. Ill also discuss the early problems and obstacles that the NHL encountered. Plus I will also tell a little bit about early equipment, along with early game play and ice conditions that players encountered. Lastly, the Stanley Cup, which is the most prized and oldest sports award of the NHL.
It has been won many times, by many different teams. Ice hockey is traceable to games played on fields as far back as nearly 2500 years ago. In 478 BC, a Greek soldier, Hemostocoles, built a wall in Athens which contained a sculpture scene portraying two athletes in a faceoff-like stance holding sticks similar to those later used in field hockey. (Hubbard & Fischler, page17) Perhaps native Americans were the first to play hockey like games. The Indians of Canada invented the field game lacrosse, which is known by the legislative act as Canadas and national sport. The Alogonquins who inhabited the shores the St. Lawrence River played an ice game that was similar to lacrosse called “baggataway,” played without skates and with an unlimited number of participants.
French explorers who visited the St. Lawrence River area and northern areas of United States in the 1700s witnessed these matches. (Hubbard & Fischler, page17) According to the dictionary of language of Micmacs Indians, published in 1888, the Micmacs of eastern Canada played an ice game called “oochamkunutk,” which was played with a bat or stick. Another ice game played by the Micmacs was “alchamadijik,” which was referred to in legends of the Micmacs, issued in 1894. (Hubbard & Fischler, page18-19) Early hockey-like games that came from across the Atlantic include the Field game Hurley from Ireland, field hockey from England, and the ice games English bandy and Kolven from Holland. Hurley is a ground game that is still popular in Ireland. It was originally played by an unlimited number of players representing one parish against another. A flat field hockey-like stick and a large ball were used.
Irish immigrants, who came to work on the Shubenacadie Canal near Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, in 1831, brought Hurley to Canada. Some believe that oochamkunutk is Hurley on ice. (Dolan page 21-26) Field hockey was played in 1870 in England, as well as Egypt and India. Although the rules for field hockey play a major role in the early evolution of ice hockey in Canada. But most students of the game doubt that field hockey was the forerunner of ice hockey, for the reason that both sports started around the same time. Despite its overwhelming popularity as primarily a woman’s sport in North America, field hockey didn’t arrive in America until 1901, (when Miss Constance Applebee of England arrived at Harvard summer school and organized a game with the group of students and teachers. (Dolan page 29-31) The English played a game called Bandy, which is a hockey-like game, who have been playing it as far back as the late 18th century and it is still played today in Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the United States (Minnesota). Many of the stars of the early Soviet hockey teams had been Bandy players.
It is played on a large sheet of ice with short sticks, a ball and large goals. The Dutch, long known for their ice skating ability, have played the game Kolven since the 1600’s. It is played with a golf-like stick, a ball, and posts stuck in the ice for goals. Evidence of this game can be seen it in 17th century Dutch paintings. Emigrants from Holland who settled in New York City played the game in their new locale. Another hockey-like game played on both sides of the Atlantic was shinny.
It was played on the frozen pans of North American and northern Europe (Scotland in particular). A block of wood or of ball served as a puck and a couple of a large rocks board chunks of wood were used to mark-off the goals. For the faceoff players had to “shinny on their own side,” which meant they had to take it right handed. Ever since the advent of organized ice hockey, the name shinny has been used to describe on organized will or sandlot (if you will) hockey. There is an ongoing debate among hockey historians as to whether or not some of the “first hockey ever played” claims where actually ice hockey or instead, one of hockey-like games like shinny.
The committee appointed of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association Concluded that the first hockey was played in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1855, by the royal Canadian rifles, an imperial army unit stationed at Kingston. Some believe the game they were playing was probably shinny. An English historian once claimed that the royal family created the game in the early 1850’s, on the lake behind Windsor Castle. But most likely the British royalty was playing either shinny or a bandy-like game instead. Apart from shinny, the precursor to ice hockey in the United States was ice polo, a purely American creation that was derived from the indoor sport of roller polo. (Hubbard & Fischler, page 22-37) Ice polo was played on outdoor ice by the early to mid-1880s in New England, Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
It was most likely played at first at St. Paul’s school in Concord, New Hampshire, in the early 1880’s. In 1883, a four-team ice polo league was formed in St. Paul, Minnesota. The formation of this league lead to the organization of ice polo tournament held annually in conjunction with the famous of St.
Paul winter carnival. By the turn of the century, ice hockey had replaced ice polo in the U.S. (Fischler page 47) The first organized indoor ice hockey game supposedly took place in Canada on March 30, 1875. Montreal’s Victoria Skating Rink was the site of the game, which was organized by James Creighton, an ice Hurley player from Halifax. After a local exhibition of ice lacrosse drew little, if any public interest. Creighton of or post ice hockey to instead and ordered sticks to be shipped from Halifax to Montreal for the event.
The game was played with nine-man sides on a surface that measured 80 ft by 204 ft. the contest ended in at 2-1 in victory for Creightons teem and, believe it or not – the game included a fight! “Shins and heads were battered, benches smashed, and the lady spectators fled in confusion,” reported the wire dispatch Kingstons Daily British Whig from Montreal. A terrible seen indeed, but there is a silver lining: we may not know when outdoor ice hockey began but we do know that fighting in hockey is at least as old as its first indoor game. What I can determine, despite my inability to pinpoint where and by whom the first outdoor game was played, is that ice hockey is primarily on Canadian creation. What I can also assume is that since humans have inhabited the Earth, they have invented, along with other recreational forms of entertainment and amusement, games, which have required, or better yet served, to fulfill man’s need for exercise.
Whether there have been meadows, fields, parks and of back yards, games have been played. The same is true for ice, whether it be frozen ponds, lakes, rivers, or even puddles. In the years following that first indoor game, Canadians began to shape and hone the new sports to their liking. In 1876, the object being struck with sticks was referred to as the “puck” for the first time, and 1877 saw the first publicized set of ice hockey rules, all seven of which were taken directly from field hockey. Further ideas and rule decisions were adapted and made respectively by …