Hockey world championship
In May 2018 was staged in Denmark
A perfect demonstation that the European teams are riding high with Sweden winning the gold medal, and Switzerland the silver
A brief history of the fastest and most exciting of all pugilistic sports in the world.
It’s best not to think about it too much. The recognisable game of ice hockey however is easier to pinpoint. The stipulation of a puck and first set of rules were written by some university clever clogs from Montreal Canada in the 1870s
The exact origins of ice hockey will probably remain unknown because just about everyone and his dog has staked a claim to its invention and subsequent evolution.
The heritage of ice hockey is most likely down to some lunatics playing on the ice with a stone and sticks.
Most of the circumstantial evidence seems to implicate the English – nothing new there.
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The first recorded indoor game was on the 3rd of March 1875 and was reported in the Montreal Gazette. Rather amusingly, the Gazette’s report inadvertently highlighted how dangerous it was to be a spectator that night:
Completely safe! They forgot to mention the punch-up afterwards.
Europe’s first attempts at ice hockey games were played, unsurprisingly, at the prince’s skating club in Knightsbridge, London, England in 1902. This happened 27 years after the teams of Captain Creighton’s McGill and Fred Terrence’s Victorians were battering a lump of wood as a puck in Montreal. Four years later in 1908, the IIHF – International Ice Hockey Federation – was founded in Paris. The IIHF officiates at the Olympic Games and world championships across the board, which includes women’s and youth games.
Naturally, as ice hockey is a particularly invigorating and fast-flowing contact sport, it rapidly grew in popularity. Consequently, governance became a consideration. Once the game had spread into the United States and Europe, several authorities emerged, most notably, the NHL – National Hockey League – covering Canada and the USA, and the KHL – Kontinental Hockey League and formerly the Russian Super League – covering Russia, Asia and Europe. Predictably, the game developed quickly in Europe, especially with countries that actually had some ice to play on, which gave rise to the ice rink.
Thankfully, that kind of horror doesn’t happen that often. However, a serious disease was replaced by a bonkers labour dispute. The 2004-2005 lockout was disastrous for all concerned for various inconceivable reasons, and a dead loss all round.
The trophy, originally commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Cup, is named after Lord Stanley of Preston because he donated it. Seems fair enough.
The "Miracle on Ice", an Olympic story from 1980, sounds a bit like a bible story but it’s actually an event that epitomises Baron de Coubertin’s – the founder of the IOC – Olympic dream, and one of ice hockey’s defining moments in history. The Soviet Union’s amateur level dominance was undeniable. Nobody could hold a candle to them. Herb Brooks coached a bunch of college players, and defeated the best players on the planet, and so, as it happens, it’s a bible story after all. "David and Goliath" – everybody loves that one.
Champions Hockey League – as we know it now – was formed from an alliance of six European leagues and the IIHF – a sort of hockey glasnost. This amalgamation gave Europe some bargaining power and the ability to spread their wings a little. The simple objectives were to forge relationships with its founding members and compete with the NHL and KHL on the world stage.
In 2008, the IIHF celebrated its centenary year, and as part of the celebration, featured their top 100 stories. Now, it does sound like a bit of an IIHF trumpet blowing ego trip is about to happen, but hold your horses. This media brainwave was a fantastic idea for anyone interested in the history of the sport, and if you’re a fan, you will be. There are some incredibly inspiring ice hockey stories that deserve to be remembered, and they’re free to read on the IIHF website.
"Great Britain wins gold medal" was the headline in February 1936 after the Olympic games in Germany. Hitler was in vogue, war was on the horizon, and the big story was about an Olympic monumental cock-up. Little old Britain beat the favourites Canada – how could that happen? The irony in this story is that Canada complained about the British team fielding illegal players prior to the games. Yep, you’ve got it, those players were instrumental in the win. However, the story didn’t end there. Due to some officiating kerfuffle over the preliminary rounds, Canada found themselves up the losing creek without a paddle.
Whilst nothing can replace the exhilaration of a live game, television channels are airing a lot more live games. The mainstream coverage of ice hockey in Central Europe is lagging a little behind other less dynamic sports like golf, which is a sort of solo hockey played peacefully on neatly cut grass with a pipe and slippers appeal. However, the recent Ice Hockey World Championship was streamed live, and televised all over Europe. All in all, the future for ice hockey fans in Europe is very bright indeed.
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The EIHL – Elite Ice Hockey League – in the UK has just signed a three-year deal with an online gambling platform provider as a title sponsor. Interestingly, part of the agreement between the two requires a percentage – it could be tiny – of all bets placed to be fed back to ice hockey, which is better than a kick up the backside.
Every year, the EHL – European Hockey league – brings together 24 of the best field hockey teams from Eurasia. However, it would seem that the truly inspirational stories are to be found at the thin end of the wedge. Holcombe HC was a last-minute entrant to the 2017/18 competition because of Surbiton’s decision to pull out.
The league has 12 British teams that have a sizeable Canadian contingent spread amongst them. A wholesome total of 16 nationalities are currently represented throughout the league teams. Whilst it’s great that ice hockey is doing its bit for cultural harmony in the world, the real benefit is the action on the ice.
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