Ice hockey is a sport beloved by millions around the world. The high-octane, no-holds-barred action and ferocity of the game is a major draw for fans. And since the very first game of indoor ice hockey was played, over 140 years ago, the sport is still going strong. But what exactly did that first game look like, so many years in the past?
Firstly, the game was played in Montreal, and rightfully so, considering Canada’s creation of the sport. On March 3, 1875, the world’s very first organized indoor ice hockey match was played in the Victoria Skating Rink. Considered one of the world’s finest rinks, the Victoria Skating Rink was a natural choice to house what would set off more than a century of sports entertainment.
This game was special for a few reasons. Up until that point, ice hockey games were simply played outdoors on large, frozen lakes with as many people the lake could accommodate. Because of Victoria’s smaller rink size, this forced the game to be played by two teams of nine, very similar to today’s teams of six. It was also the very first game to have a set of predetermined rules. The game included two separate teams, a goaltender, a referee and a set time of 60 minutes. Because the rink had no borders, and spectators watched mere inches from the ice, instead of a lacrosse ball, players used a wooden puck.
The game proved to be a major hit with spectators, spawning multiple franchises, events, a codified set of rules for two separate ice hockey leagues and millions of adoring fans. In short, this one game created professional ice hockey.
It’s always a treat to look back at the history of such an enduring sport. When you see the way the game has changed, for better or worse, you get a better sense of pride. You feel a connection between yourself and the league. The rules, equipment, stakes, and teams have all changed in one way or another, but one constant still remains: ice hockey is the greatest sport of all time.