Ice hockey was first played in Eastern Canada in the mid 1800s. Exactly where in Eastern Canada it was invented has been the subject of numerous arguments, body checks and fistfights. Some say it was Windsor, Ontario, while others claim it was Kingston, Ontario, or Nova Scotia. Still others insist it was Montreal, Quebec. What is known is that the first rule book was published in 1877 in Montreal and the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada was formed in 1888. Here are more tidbits about Canada's favorite sport.
Equipment. Technically, all that is needed to play ice hockey are a pair of ice skates, an adequately sized ice surface, a stick, a puck and a net. One would be wise, however, to include with his or her hockey equipment shin pads, thigh pads, a helmet, a face mask, shoulder pads, a chest protector, hockey pants, gloves and elbow pads. Mouth guards and groin protection are also highly recommended. Goalies, because they're having vulcanized rubber discs shot at them at high rates of speed, need better equipment.
Basic rules. Think soccer on skates with sticks and a puck instead of a ball. An official hockey game consists of five players and one goalie per team at a time. The game begins with a face-off, which is when the referee drops the puck in the middle of two opposing players, who try to control the puck to a teammate. The object of the game is to hit the puck into the opposing team's net with a stick, as long as the stick that makes contact is not above shoulder level. Contact in hockey is legal as long as it falls into the realm of fairness. Those players not conducting themselves in an appropriate manner are given a penalty and have to sit out for a certain period of time, usually two minutes. When a player is penalized, his or her team must play short-handed, creating a power play for the opposing team.
When a player completely crosses into the offensive zone before the puck, the player is considered offsides. An offsides results in a face-off at an advantageous spot for the other team. If the defending team knocks the puck out of the defensive zone past the opposing team's goal (not in the goal), he or she is guilty of icing. Icing results in a face-off deep in the defensive zone of the guilty team.
Ice hockey participants. Because ice hockey is played on ice, it is most popular where it's cold. These places include Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany and other places you would never go to in winter without a pair of gloves and a hat. The most prestigious international competition occurs every four years at the Olympics.