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ice hockey:see hockey, icehockey, ice,
team sport in which players use sticks to propel a hard, round disk into a net-backed goal. Rules and Equipment
Ice hockey is played on a rectangular rink with curved corners whose length may vary from 184 to 200 ft (56–61 m), its width from 85
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hockey, ice,team sport in which players use sticks to propel a hard, round disk into a net-backed goal.
Rules and Equipment
Ice hockey is played on a rectangular rink with curved corners whose length may vary from 184 to 200 ft (56–61 m), its width from 85 to 98 ft (26–30 m). Six players—a goalie, a center, two defensemen, and two forwards—all of whom are on ice skates, make up a team. The rink is surrounded on all sides by walls 3 1-2 to 4 ft (1.06–1.22 m) high. The goal mouths are 4 ft (1.22 m) high and 6 ft (1.83 m) wide and are set 10 ft (3.05 m) out from each end of the rink, which is divided by colored lines in the ice into three zones (attacking, neutral, and defending) that are each 60 ft (18.29 m) long. A puck, once made of rubber but now of composite material, 1 in. (2.54 cm) thick and 3 in. (7.62 cm) in diameter, and frozen to reduce resiliency, is the object used in play. The weight, size, and shape of the sticks used to hit the puck are standardized. After a face-off (the dropping of the puck between two opposing players by an official), the team in possession of the puck seeks to maneuver it past the other team and into its net. Each goal counts one point. The game is divided into three 20-min periods; overtime periods in case of ties are used in certain professional games. In this fast and body-bruising sport, players use heavy protective equipment, and there is unlimited substitution. A player detected by the referee in roughing, tripping, high-sticking, or other violations must spend two minutes (a minor penalty) or more (major penalties) off the ice in the penalty box, and his team must continue play shorthanded. Linesmen, goal judges, a timekeeper, and a scorer also officiate.
The National Hockey League
The modern game originated in Canada in the 1800s, and the first modern indoor hockey game was played in Montreal in 1875. By the 1890s it had become extremely popular and had spread to the United States. Since 1917 the National Hockey League (NHL), with teams in both countries, has been the primary professional association. The rival World Hockey Association (WHA), launched in 1972, ceased operation in 1979; several of its 12 teams gained entry to the NHL. The NHL's current 31 teams play in two conferences, the Eastern and Western, each with two divisions. Though most NHL players have always been Canadian, an increasing number of players from the United States and Europe have appeared since the 1980s. Teams vie for the Stanley Cup—originally donated to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (1893) by Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley—the NHL's championship trophy and the symbol of world professional supremacy. In recent years the NHL has been marked by contentious labor relations, leading to a strike in 1992 and lockouts in 1994–95, 2004–5, and 2012–13; the 2004–5 lockout was so prolonged as to cancel the season.
International, Amateur, and Women's Play
The NHL long regarded itself as the world's elite, but the overwhelming superiority of the Soviet Union in international amateur play in the 1960s led to a dramatic 1972 summit series between Team Canada (Canadian NHL players) and the Soviet national team. With their reputation on the line, the NHL stars narrowly won the series 4–3–1. Two years later the Soviets crushed a WHA All-Star team. In 1976–91 six of the world's major hockey powers competed in the periodic Canada Cup, a tournament the NHL and its player association organized. The Canadians won four times (1976, 1984, 1987, 1991) and the Soviets once (1981). The first World Cup, an eight-team expansion introduced in 1996, was won by the United States. The Kontinental Hockey League (founded 2008) is the primary Eurasian professional league. Largely based in Russia, it also has clubs in Belarus, China, Croatia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Slovakia. The International Ice Hockey Federation (founded 1908) is the governing body for Olympic competition (begun in 1920) and world tournaments held annually since 1930 (but no longer contested in Olympic years). From the early 1960s through 1990 the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia dominated both. Although Canada has an elaborate system of amateur hockey leagues, the country did not excel in international amateur hockey from 1950s to 1980s, mainly because the best Canadian players quickly turned professional. The distinction between amateur and professional, however, now has largely disappeared in international competition. In 1998 professionals played in the Olympics for the first time. Hockey at U.S. colleges has also been gaining in popularity; the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships, held since 1948, are now widely followed. Women's ice hockey dates to at least the early 20th cent., but was not formally organized, on an amateur basis in Canada, until the 1920s. The first official women's world championship was held in 1990, and Olympic competition began in 1998. Since 1995 several professional or semiprofessional women's leagues have been formed in Eurasia and North America.
See R. Beddoes et al., Hockey! The Story of the World's Fastest Sport (rev. ed. 1973), and S. and S. Fischler, Everybody's Hockey Book (1983).