Early history of ice hockey

The game of ice hockey as we know it today has developed form other ball and stick games, which are almost as old as civilization itself. Archeological evidence shows that these kinds of games have been played even in ancient Greece. Later something similar has been found also in China and Egypt. Of course, these ball and stick game were quite different from the modern hockey.

The biggest step in development of the game had been taken only around 1500s, when people started to play these games on the ice. But again, these games were just slightly similar to a modern ice hockey. In Holland people used to play a game on ice that was more similar to golf. In Ireland, there was a game similar to hurling. Also in other Nordic countries there was found some evidences of different games on ice, so it is hard to tell from which game exactly hockey has developed.

When Europeans discovered America, they found out that Native Americans also have their own games on ice. Very popular game there was lacrosse and it was played also on ice. So combining the ideas from Europe and America, the ice hockey was created. It was a lot more primitive then now and it was played only outside. Usually only in small towns and villages this game was popular.

The biggest gratitude on making ice hockey popular goes to Canadian named James Creighton. He introduced many people from bigger cities with this game and organized a group of people willing to play this game. They started to practice hockey indoors. After some months of practice and further development of the game, Creighton introduced society to ice hockey by special exhibition. Society had different opinions about ice hockey as a sport. Some believed it’s a good and interesting game, but others however thought it was violent and traumatic.

The game developed gradually, but at the 1877 the main rules were set. That was the time when ice hockey turned into a game we all knows today. The rules included the count of players in the team and on the field, the standards of the rink, the behavior of the players etc. After that, the game became a lot popular.

Many university students played ice hockey. In 1878 the McGill University established the first official hockey team and next few years there was many other teams established. Later also the first hockey league formed. In 1889 Governor General of Canada Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley watched leagues’ game and become a supporter of the game. Stanley created the concept of a regional competition and gave a cup to the winners. It was named the Stanley Hockey Championship Cup. Nowadays, we now it as Stanley Cup and it is still awarded to the champion of the National Hockey League.

At the end of 1800s and the 1900s the game of hockey spread all over the world. There were more and more teams and leagues established and this game became an object of interest not only for the players, but also fans.