The fastest of all team sports, ice hockey has been described as a combination of “blood, sweat, and beauty.” Stiffer penalties have not discouraged the players from using their basic equipment of sticks and skates as weapons, and this brutality has diminished the abstract beauty of the sport.

Even though the game consists of a lot of fighting it is still the greatest sport ever made. Even without the violence, ice hockey is a rugged game that demands strong conditioned athletes. More than any other team sport, ice hockey is a game of motion: even when the action is whistled to a stop, the momentum keeps flowing.

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The basic plays of the game are repeated, but the players are never able to skate in quite the same patterns and the sequences of their moves keep changing. The sport of ice hockey came from the games played on makeshift ice skates in Northern Europe during the Middle Ages, similar to field hockey, it involves hitting an object with sticks between two goalposts. Probably the first ice hockey players were North American Indians who used field tools that were curved at the lower end.

The French word for the similarly shaped shepherd’s crook, hoquet, was attached by French explorers who watched the Indians’ ball-and-stick games. Although the original game called for nine men on each side, the number of team players involved could vary from one community to another. Soon a committee met in Montreal to establish regulations for seven-man teams. The positions agreed upon were goalkeeper, two defensemen, three forwards, and a rover who alternated between offense and defense. The National Hockey Association, formed in 1909, eliminated the rover, which meant that east-west championship games alternated between the six- and seven-man styles for a time.

Until the mid-1920s teams were sometimes forced to play with fewer than three skaters on the ice because of penalties. The rules and equipment were improvised gradually whenever problems cropped up and as rougher play made certain types of injuries more common. The creation in 1893 of a status symbol, the Stanley Cup–then awarded to Canada’s best amateur hockey team–gave some credibility to the sport.

Ice hockey is a low-scoring game in which the team that hits the most pucks into its opponent’s goal wins. The goals are located at each end of the hockey rink, an enclosed rectangular ice surface with rounded corners. The standard size of the rink is 180by 60, though there may be slight variations. It is surrounded by sideboards and endboards that stand about three or four feet above the surface of the ice. Some of the roughest hockey action occurs when players are slammed into the boards. To protect the spectators, rinks usually have glass extending from the top of these boards.

The glass also keeps the skaters, as well as the pucks, within the playing area. Each goal has a cage framed by two posts four feet high and a bar six feet long across the top. Stretching from the posts to the ice level is a net that encloses the sides and back and forms the cage into which the pucks are shot. The only time a goal can be scored is when the puck crosses the goal line–a 2-inch-wide red border that extends between the goalposts. The rink is divided into three zones. Drawn 60 feet from each goal line is a zone line, or blue line, extending across the width of the rink and up the sideboards. Exactly between the two blue lines, at the middle of the rink, is the centerline, or red line.

The ice surface between the blue lines is the center, or neutral, zone. The ice surface also includes markings for face-offs. A face-off is used to start or restart play whenever it has been stopped. In all, there are nine face-off spots, each one foot in diameter. The primary tool of the hockey player is the wooden stick used to maneuver the puck about the ice. In professional hockey the length from the bottom, or heel, of the stick to the top cannot exceed 55 inches, and the length from the heel to the outward end, or toe, of its blade cannot exceed 121/2 inches.

The administration of ice hockey penalties makes the game one of the few sports in which a team is deprived of a player after a transgression. The most prevalent penalty is the two-minute minor, which is assessed for such transgressions as holding, tripping, charging, elbowing, hooking, slashing, and interference. When a referee spots such an infraction, he will whistle the offender off the ice and send him to a penalty box or bench where the player sits during the time of his infraction. Penalties made by a goalie are served by a teammate. The player’s team may not replace him on the ice, and until his time has expired he may only leave the penalty box when his club, while shorthanded, is scored against.

When a player is charged with a major penalty, he must serve the full time (five minutes), no matter how often his club is scored against. Major penalties are given for fighting with or injuring an opponent. If a player is guilty of insubordination to an official he receives a ten-minute misconduct penalty. Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe was born in 1928. He played Right wing for the Detroit Red Wings from 1946 to 1971.

With effortless style and devastating elbows he became six-time winner of Art Ross and Hart trophies. He was the First Hall of Famer to play after retirement, he joined his sons, Mark and Marty, on WHA’s Houston Aeros. He scored 1,000th goal with New England (Hartford) Whalers 1977. Another old hockey played was Georges “Chicoutimi Cucumber” Vezina who was born in 1888 and died in 1926. He was Goalie for the Montreal Canadiens from 1910 to 1925. He allowed an average of 3.

45 goals per game in the maskless era that limited goalies to standup play. He never missed a game until his 1925-26 season when he came down with tuberculosis. Now you can play hockey in a lot of places like Sports Plus and the rinks. If you are part of the team you play late at night which is not good in some cases. Also, if you are part of certain leagues you have to play early in the morning. Hockey is a great sport.

Even though you can get hurt easily everyone still has fun and they all get a great work out doing so.

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