Sport played on ice where two teams consisting of 5 players and one "goaltender" each are using "sticks" to put a "puck" into the other team's "goal".

The playing field and the equipment
Historically a winter sport, now an all year round sport, played indoors in sports arenas with ice making capabilities. The playing field is called a rink, and is rectangular with rounded corners, and enclosed by a board and sometimes Plexiglas to protect the audience from stray pucks and players, occasionally. The international size - sometimes referred to as "Olympic size" - of the rink is 61 by 30 meters (200 by 98 feet). In North American professional ice hockey a narrower rink - 25 meters (85 feet) - is used. The boards are either wooden or or fiberglass and about 1,05 meter (42 inches) high. 

The rink is divided in three zones, one neutral middle zone and two defensive zones belonging to either team. The defensive zones are 18 m (61 ft) and indicated by red a blue line toward the neutral zone. The neutral zone has a red line bisecting it, indicating the center of the rink On either side of the rink, some 2 m (6 ft) from the end boards, is a netted goal 1,2 m high and 1,8 m wide (4x6 ft). 

The players have wooden or composite sticks with a blade attached to it. This is used to pass, dribble or shoot the puck. The puck is a rubber cylinder of 2,5 cm height and 7,6 cm diameter (1'' by 3'') weighing about 160 grams (6 ounces). The players have skates on their feet. Players also have a lot of protective equipment, such as helmets, knee pads, gloves, shoulder pads, elbow pads etc. The goalkeeper ("goalie") has specially designed equipment to protect him/her from hard shots. He also has large knee pads to stop the puck, a glove for catching of the puck, and a larger stick. Goalies also wear face masks, which is sometimes mandatory but usually elective for the other players. 

The game
The goal of the game is to put the puck in the other team's goal. A game is limited by time, usually three periods of 20 minutes of effective play. Sometimes overtime with or without sudden death, and penalty shootout is used to decide games that are equal after a full game. 

Players can use all their body and equipment to move the puck, except for the head or with a club over shoulder level. They cannot close their hand around the puck. They cannot pass the puck with an open hand. They can only score a goal with the stick, unless the puck accidentally bounces on another part of their body. Thus they cannot kick the puck into a goal, but if the puck hits the skate and bounces into the goal, it is ok. 

Players may check and tackle other players anywhere on the ice in order to take the puck from them, except for the goalie. The tackle must be done using the shoulder, the breast or the side of the body, and at least one skate must remain on the ice. A player may not hold, grab, trip another player, nor is any use of the stick against another player allowed. Only players with the puck can be tackled. 

Ice hockey uses offside, meaning that the puck must enter the other team's defensive zone before any player of the attacking team. If the puck goes out of the zone, so must all the offensive players. Another rule is icing, meaning that a puck that goes from the defensive zone of one teams to behind the goal of the other team. If no player from the defensive team touches the puck, the puck will go back to the defensive zone. 

A ice hockey team consists of  2 goalies and 20 field players. Players can substitute anytime during play, as long as no more than one goalie and 5 other players are on the ice at the same time. The game is very fast and physical, so players usually do shifts of 90 seconds a piece. 

There are one referee and two linesmen officiating the games. The linesmen watch for offsides and icing while the referee watches for penalties. Penalties are given for any breach of the rules mentioned above, plus other forms of aggressive and violent play. Examples of penalties are roughing, tripping, cross-checking, high sticking, charging, interference and elbowing. A player called for a penalty has to serve 2 minutes - if it's minor, 5 minutes if it's major - in the penalty box. During this time, the team cannot replace this player, and must thus play shorthanded. If the other team scores, a player doing time for a minor penalty - but not a major one - can return to the game. There are also different forms of personal penalties for misconduct that can render 10 minutes or the rest of the game in the penalty box .

The name hockey comes from the French "hocquet", meaning a shepard's stick. The game itself has origins in the early 19th century in Nova Scotia and later spread to the British army. It also has origins in the Irish hurling. The game was spread in Canada and Scotland in the late 19th century, which is also when one started playing on ice and with a puck. 

The first ice hockey organization was the Amateur Hockey Association (AHA) of Canada, from 1885. The first league was also formed in Canada and since 1893 teams in North America have been competing over the Stanley Cup, which now is owned by NHL, the National Hockey League

A world championship for national teams is held every year, except when Olympic tournaments are played. These are arranged by the International Ice Hockey Federation, IIHF. There have also been various other hockey tournaments for national teams, such as Canada Cup and World Cup

Ice hockey has from the beginning been dominated by Canada. They won most world championships from the first one in 1920 until 1963. The few exceptions were by Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, USA and Sweden. Between 1963 and 1993, the Soviet Union won 23 times, only allowing Czechoslovakia and Sweden a few titles each. After the fall of the Soviet Union, several countries have won the world championship. The dominating countries in ice hockey today are Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, Czech republic and Finland and Slovakia

The Olympic tournaments has pretty much followed the same patterns, with respect to what countries have been dominating thorough the years.

The best players in the world play professionally in the NHL, which consists of teams from Canada and the USA.


reference:,, britannica