Shoulder pads Jockstrap Hockey stick Puck or ball
Ice hockey is played on a large flat area of ice, using a three-inch-diameter (76.2 mm) vulcanized rubber disc called a puck. This puck is often frozen before high-level games to decrease the amount of bouncing and friction on the ice. The game is contested between two teams of skaters. The game is played all over North America, Europe and in many other countries around the world to varying extent. It is the most popular sport in Canada, Finland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The governing body of international play is the 72-member International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Men's ice hockey has been played at the Winter Olympics since 1924, and was in the 1920 Summer Olympics. Women's ice hockey was added to the Winter Olympics in 1998. North America's National Hockey League (NHL) is the strongest professional ice hockey league, drawing top ice hockey players from around the globe. The NHL rules are slightly different from those used in Olympic ice hockey over many categories. Ice hockey sticks are long L-shaped sticks made of wood, graphite, or composites with a blade at the bottom that can lie flat on the playing surface when the stick is held upright and can curve either way, legally, as to help a left- or right-handed player gain an advantage. Various stick and ball games similar to field hockey, bandy and other games where two teams push a ball or object back and forth with sticks were played on ice under the name "hockey" in England throughout the 19th century, and even earlier under various other names. In Canada, there are 24 reports of hockey-like games in the 19th century before 1875 (five of them using the name "hockey"). The first organized indoor game of ice hockey was played in Montreal, Canada on March 3, 1875 and featured several McGill University students. The contemporary sport developed in Canada from these and other influences. International ice hockey rules were adopted from Canadian rules in the early 1900s. Ice hockey is the national sport of Latvia and the national winter sport of Canada. Ice hockey is played at a number of levels, by all ages.
The name "hockey" has no clear origin. Its first known mention is from the 1773 book Juvenile Sports and Pastimes, to Which Are Prefixed, Memoirs of the Author: Including a New Mode of Infant Education, by Richard Johnson (Pseud. Master Michel Angelo), whose chapter XI was titled "New Improvements on the Game of Hockey". The belief that hockey was mentioned in a 1363 proclamation by King Edward III of England is based on modern translations of the proclamation, which was originally in Latin and explicitly forbade the games "Pilam Manualem, Pedivam, & Bacularem: & ad Canibucam & Gallorum Pugnam". The English historian and biographer John Strype did not use the word "hockey" when he translated the proclamation in 1720.