Part two of the origins of Hockey kicks off at the start of the 20th Century, when things that were connected with the fledgling game of Hockey were getting serious. The specialized hockey equipment was being manufactured starting with the first mass produced sticks. Equipment for protecting parts of the body was largely borrowed from other sports, the goalie borrowed a chest protector from baseball, and shin pads were also not an original invention. This was the era of the first purpose-built arenas for the sport, and they were popping up all over eastern Canada.
The Stanley Cup
A cup donated by the governor general of Canada, Lord Stanley of Preston, brought national attention to hockey, and it rewarded to the best hockey team in Canada each year. The Stanley Cup is one of the most prestigious awards in hockey to this very day, the first winners back in 1892 were the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association team. Montreal also retained the cup the following year which was more of a challenge series as Lord Preston had envisaged for the competition when he first donated the trophy. Ever since 1926 the Stanley Cup has been awarded to the winners of the National Hockey League play-offs.
Canadian Hockey League
The Canadian Hockey League was formed in 1899, up to then the sport had been amateur in Canada. The first professional team was actually from the USA, the Portage Lakers, but most of the players were actually Canadian. Then, in 1904, the world’s first professional hockey league was formed: The International Pro Hockey League. Four years later Canada had their own professional league the Ontario Professional Hockey League, it cemented Canada’s role as the epicenter of world hockey.
In 1908 the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) was formed in Europe, with the member nations being France, Britain, Belgium, Switzerland and Bohemia. The first championship that took place in Europe was in 1910 in Switzerland, with Great Britain running out as champions.
The first Olympic Games that featured hockey was in 1920, with Canada becoming the first Olympic champions. They also won the very first Winter Olympic Games in 1924 and went on to dominate it for four more decades. Then in the early part of the 1960’s a new power house of world hockey took to the stage, the USSR. The USSR dominated the sport until the ultimate dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990’s. In 1995 professional players were allowed to play hockey in the Olympics, and teams from Canada, USA, Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic could finally select players from the respective national leagues and the competition grew fierce.
You cannot argue that hockey is considered to be a male dominated sport, but that does not alter the fact that hockey has been played by women for over a century. The first all-female match is recorded to have been in Ontario in 1892. The Olympic Committee recognized this in 1998 and added women’s hockey to its Winter Olympic Games schedule. The sport made its grand debut appearance in Nagano and was well received by teams and supporters alike. Today hockey is played all over the world by men and women and has never been more popular.