Little more than a year ago, I posted a very brief history of Ice Hockey. That post which focused more so on the skills we can acquire with this sport can be read when you click here. But for today, let’s take a deeper dive on the beginnings of Hockey. Who was the first person to take a long stick and small, round object out on a frozen pond or lake wearing thin strips of metal fastened to the bottom of their feet? Well, the answer isn’t quite so simple as just one person, though a man named James Creighton is often credited for the development of modern Ice Hockey.
We’ll get back to him in a few moments.
It’s believed by some scholars that hockey originated as a sport played on an unfrozen surface some 4000 years ago called Hurley. Archeological evidence points scholars to believe that minor variations of this game were played among the Ancient Aztecs, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Greeks, and Romans.
These early games continued on into the Medieval Period and spread across Europe where northern climates provided frozen ponds. Scotland called it Shinty. England called it Bandie Ball. And Ireland went with the name Hurly. They were all a little different but, essentially, the same game.
These precursors to hockey made their way to North America by means of immigrants who journeyed to the Canadian land of Nova Scotia in the early 1800s. This game was loved in the area, but didn’t spread much until 1872 when our hero James Creighton moved from his hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia and brought skates, sticks, and a basic set of rules to the much more populated mainland of Canada where it was finally dubbed Hockey.
It didn’t take long for Creighton to organize indoor hockey practices at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal. After roughly a month of practice, the first indoor game of hockey was played on March 3, 1875. The game featured nine players from each team, including Creighton and his fellow class mates from McGill University. Folks typically played with a ball or often the stopper from a whiskey barrel.
To bring officiality to this spreading sport, Creighton presented the teams with a flat, circular piece of wood that he’d cut. It was the very first hockey puck. They’re made of vulcanized rubber nowadays, but the right cut of wood made for a great and unique component to the game of hockey.
Get out on the ice if you’re a hockey fanatic and enjoy getting some great shots past a goalie. As always, thanks for reading!