The origins of ice hockey are unclear, but it is widely accepted that the British are responsible for bringing ice hockey to North America. Soldiers stationed in Nova Scotia (Canada), played the earliest games. In 1879, a group of college students at McGill University in Montreal organized competitions and developed the first known set of ice hockey rules.
Ice Hockey tournaments have been staged at the Olympic Games since the 1920 Summer Olympics.
A women's Ice Hockey tournament was added to the Olympic program for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.
Ice Hockey in Russia
Ice hockey is considered to have first appeared in Russia on December 22 1946, when the first games of the first Soviet ice hockey championship were played in the cities of Moscow, Leningrad, Riga, Kaunas and Arkhangelsk.
In 1954, the Soviet hockey players made their debut at the World Championships and immediately became leaders in world ice hockey. The first game played against team Canada ended in 7-2 Soviet' victory.
Ice hockey is played on a large flat area of ice, using a three inch (76.2 mm) diameter vulcanized rubber disc called a puck. This puck is likely to be frozen for high-level matches to decrease the amount of bouncing and friction on the ice surface. The game is contested between two teams of skaters.
A team must have no more than six players on the ice while the game is in progress. As a rule, these players are: one goalkeeper, two defensemen, three forwards (two wings and one centre). There can be fewer players on the ice as a result of penalties incurred. Also, a goalkeeper can be replaced by a skater during a penalty or at any other time of the game. A regular ice hockey game consists of three periods of 20-minutes each, with a 15-minute intermission after the first and second period.
There are Olympic competitions for men and women.
- Equipment includes: a helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, mouth guard, protective gloves, heavily padded shorts, athletic cup/jock strap, shin pads and a neck protector.
- Goalkeepers’ equipment includes: a helmet, catcher and blocker gloves, neck guard, chest protector, athletic cup/jock strap, heavily padded shorts and leg pads.
- The puck is made of vulcanized rubber, must be approved by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IHF) and must be primarily black in color.
- Sticks are made of wood or other material, such as aluminium or plastic.
Ice Hockey in Sochi
Ice hockey competitions will be held at “Bolshoy” Ice Dome and “Shayba” Arena. The ice venues are located within 300 m of one another.
The “Bolshoy” Ice Dome resembles the famous Easter Faberge Egg, a well-known Russian cultural symbol.
After the Games, the facility will become an ultra-modern multifunctional sport, concert and entertainment center. The “Bolshoy” Ice Dome is scheduled to open in 2012 for test competitions.
The “Shayba” Arena is able to accommodate 7,000 spectators. This facility is scheduled to open in August 2012 for test competitions. After the Games, the facility will be dismounted and transferred to another city in Russia.