ice Hockey

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Sweden-Latvia (men), May 2005
Game of the Eisbären Berlin against the Hannover Scorpions in the DEL

Ice hockey is a team sport that is played with five field players and one goalkeeper on an approximately 60 m long and 30 m wide ice surface . The aim of the game is to push the game device, the puck , a small hard rubber disc, into the opposing goal . The playing time is usually three times 20 minutes net. Since the clock is paused every time the game is interrupted, a game lasts around two to two and a half hours.

The sport spread particularly through the invention and construction of artificial ice rinks since the beginning of the 20th century.

Ice hockey is organized internationally by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). As of 2019, the world association has 81 member associations. The North American National Hockey League (NHL) is considered to be the best ice hockey league in the world .



Ice hockey at McGill University 1884
Page from an American mail order catalog from 1927 with ice hockey articles

Forerunners of ice hockey can be found in Friesland or the Netherlands . Artistic illustrations of similar sports date back to the 16th century. Another game from that time, which is very similar to today's ice hockey, is still known today as Bandy . Other traces refer to Denmark in 1134. The ice skates were made of bones until the industrialization .

In North America, the indigenous people of Kanattas were already familiar with various ball games in the 16th century. Due to the French colonization of Canada in the middle of the 16th century, those ball games were mixed with those of the soldiers in what is now known as lacrosse . The Camburca , a curling stick, developed into a kind of hockey or ice hockey stick . In the middle of the 18th century, the English came to Canada and the soldiers brought with them the games of hurling and shinty , also known as Shinney, known to them. Over time, the Shinney game was quickly carried over to the ice due to the prevailing conditions. Initially, only the soldiers played, but students from Montréal joined in, who developed fixed rules of the game, so that gradually a permanent league business developed. The oldest demonstrable "first indoor ice hockey game" took place on March 3, 1875 at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal and was organized by James Creighton , a student at McGill University . In 1917 the professional league National Hockey League was founded, which initially only comprised Canadian, later also American teams. In Canada, ice hockey is claimed as a national symbol; European traditions of the game are excluded here.

In Europe, which had known comparable games for a long time, the game idea and the regulations were already spreading towards the end of the 19th century, where they were initially primarily established in climatically favorable areas such as the Alpine region or Scandinavia , as well as in large cities, if they were beyond had an artificial ice rink. Johann Felix Unsöld (1852–1931), engineer and inventor of pig ice production, built Germany's first artificial indoor ice rink in 1882. The ice rink was covered by an elaborate glass roof construction between residential buildings. He wanted to use it to use the machines in his ice cream factory in winter. It was located in Munich , on Galeriestraße on the property at today's number 10 on Unsöldstraße. Soon after its completion, the ice rink was popularly nicknamed Schachterleis (Schachterl = Bavarian diminutive for tiny box ) because it was very small at 38 meters by 15 meters.

The origin of the word hockey is unclear, a derivation from the French word for stick or the English term "hook" (curved) seems possible . The German language knows Hocken ( Old High German : hocchan ), a phonetically similar word from which the word ice hock , which was previously used in Germany for the game, is derived.

After the Second World War

The games between the former Soviet Union and the USA or Canada often acquired historical significance, especially during the Cold War phase, as an expression of the rivalry between the systems. The game between the USA and the USSR at the 1980 Olympic ice hockey tournament became a kind of "showdown" between the two world powers. The USA were able to win it against the then overpowering Soviet Union, the game went down in history as the “ Miracle on Ice ”.

The importance of ice hockey in the Soviet Union increased significantly from the 1950s. The Soviet team managed to win the gold medal when they first participated in the World Cup in 1954 and when they first participated in the Olympic ice hockey tournament . Furthermore, there were important games between the USSR and the Czechoslovakia , in which the Soviet team competed with outstanding Czechoslovak players. Here too, especially after the Prague Spring 1968, different political attitudes and political sensitivities were brought into sport.

After inline skates had repeatedly been designed as a training device for ice hockey players, inline hockey was established as a sport related to ice hockey in the 1990s .

After the collapse of the Soviet Union , some of the best players went to the National Hockey League , which is made up of US and Canadian teams. The NHL is now the most important league in the world, with many of the best players from Europe and other parts of the world. The annual NHL All-Star Games show that many European players are among the most important performers in the league today. The sports landscape in North America is more pluralistic and, unlike in Europe, for example, is not dominated by a single sport. As a result, player income is higher in many sports and, as in the case of ice hockey, attracts players from Europe.

Women ice hockey

Ice hockey for women developed from men's ice hockey and differs from it in various rule adjustments. The most important of these is that women are generally prohibited from pushing against the gang or having body checks . This regulation was introduced after the first World Cup in 1990 , because there were serious injuries due to the clash of women of different robust build. In addition, like all young players, women are obliged to wear helmets with face protection.

The first women's Olympic ice hockey tournament was held in Nagano in 1998 . Just like the World Championships, these competitions are mainly dominated by the teams from North America. There is also a distinctive league system there that is similar to that of the men. Women's ice hockey is also popular in northern Europe and Russia.

At the 2006 Winter Games in Turin , Sweden, for the first time, a non-American team won the silver medal.


In ice hockey, a puck , a flat hard rubber disc, has to be pushed or shot into the opponent's goal with clubs . Ice hockey is considered a very fast team sport and also a very physical sport, in which there can also be tangible disputes between the players. As a rule, these disputes are quickly stopped and end without injuries, but there have been and continue to be incidents that have resulted in serious injuries. By means of so-called body checks it is possible to push the opponent to the side according to the rules or to get them out of the way in order to conquer the puck.

The globally applicable set of rules is published regularly in the rulebook of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The current version is valid until 2018. The rulebook is divided into twelve sections, which deal with the topics of game regulations , playing field , teams and players , player equipment , game rules / general , game rules / interruptions , game rules / player changes , game rules / goals , game rules / duration and situations , penalties , penalty shots and awarded goals and describe special rules for goalkeepers .

The NHL publishes its own rulebook, the contents of which differ in part from the regulations of the IIHF.


Ice hockey rink

The playing field according to IIHF is a rectangular ice surface 60 m long and 30 m wide with rounded corners. It is surrounded by an approx. 1.20 m high wooden or hard plastic band, over which protective glass panes or safety nets are attached for safety reasons - especially against flying pucks, and extends around the ice hockey goals. It is structured by five transverse lines:

  • The red center line bisects the playing field; in the middle of it is the allusion point (face-off point )
  • Two blue lines divide it into three equally sized zones: the attack zone , the neutral zone and the defense zone
  • Two red goal lines

The goals have a height of 1.22 m and a width of 1.83 m: the posts and lath are colored red. A semicircular goal area is marked in front of the goal. There are a total of nine face-off or face-off points: in addition to the one in the middle of the field, two in each of the defensive zones. Opposite the boxes of the players' benches there are others for timing and penalty benches.

In the North American NHL , the playing field deviates from the international requirements. At 200 feet, it is almost the same length (60.96 m), but only 85 feet (25.91 m) wide and has a different distribution of the playing field zones. This tends to make the game faster and more aggressive.

The German Ice Hockey League (DEL) stipulates the maximum dimensions of 61 m length and 30 m width and the minimum dimensions 56 m length and 26 m width. The corners must be rounded with a radius of 7 m to 8.5 m. In this respect, a playing field with approximately NHL dimensions would also be permissible in the DEL. However, so far all DEL clubs and operators have orientated themselves towards the international standard in order to be able to play international matches.

Note: Shorttrack , the 111.12 m short course variant of speed skating, is also played on an ice hockey rink.

Team, players and equipment

Players on the ice surface (rule 400)

A team usually consists of up to 22 players. A maximum of six players may be on the ice at the same time during a game. Usually these consist of five field players and one goalkeeper , but in special situations the goalkeeper is also replaced by another field player.

As a rule, the game is played in lines, rows or blocks, which means that strikers and defenders always play with the same partners. A team should have three to four lines of defense (4 times 2 players = 8 players) and four lines of attack (4 times 3 players = 12 players). With two goalkeepers you will then have 22 players per team.

A team can designate a team captain and at least one assistant captain . They wear a “C” (captain) or “A” (alternate captain) on their jerseys to identify them.

The exchange of field players is not only possible during game interruptions, but can also take place "on the fly", i.e. during the game.

Special protective equipment is required to prevent injuries . Since the goalkeepers are exposed to an increased risk from the shots fired at the goal, they have even more comprehensive protective equipment.


Referee in the AHL

The referees are among the officials. These are divided into on-ice officials and off-ice officials . The on-ice officials are composed of two main referees ( referees ) and two linesmen ( linesmen ). In the lower divisions there are also systems with one referee and two linesmen or with only two referees. The referee has general supervision of the game as well as control of the players and officials. The linesmen have control over line violations ( offside and icing ) and take over the face-offs. The main referee (s) only takes over the face-off at the beginning of the third or after goals have been scored. Referees and linesmen have a much greater influence in ice hockey than in football, for example . You can directly influence the game by pronouncing penalty times.

In addition to the stadium announcer and the game timekeeper, the off-ice officials include a point judge, a video gate judge, two penalty box attendants and two gate judges. No gate judge is used in the DEL; the stand-by referee takes on the role of video gate judge.

A distinction is also made between game officials and team officials . In addition to the referees and line judges, the game officials also include the video goal judge, the goal judge, the point judge and the stand-by referee. The team officials include the team's coaching staff, supervisors and stewards.


An ice hockey game lasts 60 minutes (three thirds with 20 minutes of effective playing time each, with a 15 to 18 minute break in between in most leagues). Since the clock is stopped every time the game is interrupted, an ice hockey game usually lasts considerably longer, roughly two to three hours.

In ice hockey there are no formal own goals, the hit is attributed to the player of the attacking team who last touched the puck.

A goal is only valid if the puck crosses the goal line in full diameter and the referee has seen the puck behind the goal line. If a statement cannot be made with certainty as to whether the puck has actually crossed the goal line in full diameter, then “no goal” must be decided. If the game is recorded, the referee may use the video evidence for assistance.

It is permissible to use the skate to move the puck, provided that it does not score a goal. If the player is hit on the skate without an active kicking movement being seen and the puck consequently crosses the goal line, a regular goal is to be decided.

Playing the puck with a high stick (stick over the shoulder or over the crossbar) is not permitted, but it is permitted to stop the puck with your hand or hit it away. In addition, you can pass the puck to your teammate within your own third of the defense. Hand passes in the neutral zone and in the attack third are prohibited. Throwing the puck when it is locked in the hand is a penalty.

If the goalkeeper loses his mask during a shot, play is interrupted. However, if there is a direct margin shot after a mask hit, which leads to the goal before the referee interrupts the game, this is a regular hit.

If there is no winner in a play-off game after regular playing time, there is extra time called overtime . If this also ends in a draw, a winner is determined with a "shootout" using a penalty shootout .


  • Bully (Face Off): Will the game after an interruption kicked off again, this with a bully (kick-off) occurs at one of the nine face-off points (two ahead of the two gates, and on the two blue lines). At the beginning of the third, the kick-off takes place in the middle of the field.
  • Offside (offside): In off is detected when a player of the attacking team exceeds the blue line between the neutral zone and attack zone prior to puck and the puck the blue line has completely crossed. Crossing the line is when both skates are over the line. An exception is when the player drives backwards into the attack zone and already had the puck under control. If an attacking player is still in the attack zone while the puck is already outside, an offside decision will also not be made if the puck is played back into the attack zone by a defending player. Otherwise all opposing players must leave the attack zone before the puck can be played into it again. If the attacking players leave the attack zone without touching the puck, the game is not interrupted.
  • Off goal area : A decision will be made if an attacker enters the goal area before the puck is there. If the player scores a hit in this situation, this is valid if he was pushed into the goal area or prevented from leaving by an opponent. Even if the goal scorer does not obviously obstruct the goalkeeper while standing in the goal area, the goal is recognized.
  • Unauthorized long-range shot ( icing ): This is the case when the puck crosses the red center line and the opponent's goal line directly or indirectly, i.e. over the boards. Then the last whistle blows at the "no-touch icing" rule, and there's Bully in the opposite end zone . In the NHL ( National Hockey League ), on the other hand, the "touch icing" rule was in effect until 2012, according to which the whistle is not blown immediately, but only when a player from the defending team touches the puck. The so-called hybrid icing rule has been used in the NHL since 2013 . The International Ice Hockey Federation adopted this rule for the 2014-2018 rulebook. This rule is now used in all international tournaments and is also used in many European leagues.
  • Power play : If a team is given a bench penalty, the punished team has one player less on the ice for the time of the penalty. During the majority then the numerically superior team tries to constrict the punished team in their defensive zone. Power play does not mean the actual majority game, but only the attempt to establish oneself in the opponent's defensive zone with quick passing and skillful positional play.
  • Box play , also penalty killing: Box play is the opposite of power play. It affects the team that is outnumbered in the event of a penalty. The team in boxing tries to prevent the numerically superior opponent from scoring a goal.
  • Shorthander : If a team succeeds in scoring a goal, this is called a shorthander or shorthanded goal.
  • Empty Net Goal : If a team scores a goal when the opposing team has exchanged their goalkeeper for an additional player, this is called an empty net goal.
  • Time out (time-out): Each team can take a break of 30 seconds per game.
  • Penalty Shot : In this case, the killing player may move from the center line on the goalkeeper and try to score a goal. Make sure that the puck is always moving forward. Additional shots after ricochets are not allowed.
  • Direct acceptance (one-timer): A pass that is shot at the goal immediately without accepting it first.
  • Slot: The area between the two face-off points and the goal.
  • Gretzky's Office: The area directly behind the gate. Named after the ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky because he scored most of his 1,963 goal assists from this position.
  • Peasant trick (wrap-around): If a player drives the puck behind the goal and pushes the puck very close to the pole into the goal while driving out with the stick, this is called a pawn trick. In Switzerland this trick is called Buebetrickli .


Penalties are given by the referee. The most common reasons are disabled (interference), tripping (tripping) High floor (high-sticking), hook (hooking), delay of game (delaying the game), slashing (slashing), strip check (boarding), Stock-Check (Cross -Check), check against the head (checking to the head), check from behind (checking from behind), elbow check (elbowing), unsportsmanlike conduct, excessive hardness (roughing), unauthorized physical attack (charging), holding ( Holding), illegal equipment (illegal equipment) Incorrect substitution (too many men), holding the stick (holding the stick), Spearing (spearing), knee check (kneeing) and check the knee (checking to the knee).

To respond to injuries, the world association IIHF has introduced new penalties to help avoid serious injuries. This includes a check against the head and neck area or a check from behind. Both fouls result in more than a normal 2-minute penalty and an additional personal misconduct penalty (2 + 10 minutes).

In order to protect the spectators and to make the game smoother, a new rule, which was initially controversial among the players and teams, was introduced: If the puck leaves the playing field over the target as a direct result of a shot from the defending zone of the shooting player, a small one becomes Punishment given to the missing player for delaying play. However, if you shoot the puck on the players bench, since the rule change in 2007, no penalty is given.

The amount of the penalty is, within a certain limit, at the discretion of the referee. If the referee sees a foul, he indicates this by raising his arm; However, the game continues until the team to be punished comes into possession of the puck. During this time, the goalkeeper of the team not penalized can leave the gate to send another man onto the field. If the fouled team scores a goal in this phase, the penalty does not apply.

Possible penalties and penalty times:

  • small penalty (2 minutes) / small bench penalty (2 minutes against the team)
  • double small penalty (2 + 2 minutes)
  • minor penalty + disciplinary penalty (2 + 10 minutes)
  • major penalty (5 minutes + game misconduct penalty)
  • Misconduct penalty (10 minutes)
  • Match penalty (5 minutes + match penalty + at least one game ban)
  • Penalty Shot

A game misconduct penalty or match penalty results in the player being immediately excluded for the remainder of the game. However, only 20 minutes (game misconduct penalty) and 25 minutes (match penalty) are entered in the match report. The second game misconduct penalty in the same game or within the same competition results in an automatic ban from one game. The responsible disciplinary body can also block the player from further games. A match penalty means that the player is automatically blocked "until further notice", that is for at least one further game. The case will be judged by the responsible disciplinary body.

If the team playing in the majority scores a goal, the player is allowed to go back onto the ice immediately, provided he has served a small penalty. A goal has no influence on major penalties or disciplinary penalties. If two players sit on the penalty bench, the one whose penalty has the shorter remaining time can go back onto the ice. An exception has been made in the DEL since the 2006/07 season . If a player from both teams receives a 2-minute penalty at the same time, the penalties are equal. If another player on a team receives a penalty later within these two minutes, the penalty set later is canceled as soon as a goal is scored.

The time penalties are served on the penalty bench. For minor penalties or the first misconduct penalty, the goalkeeper is represented by a field player who was on the ice at the time of the offense. Larger penalties can result in game bans depending on the league or competition.

If the same number of penalties is pronounced against both teams at the same time, the players concerned must serve the penalty in the penalty box, but the two teams remain in the field in the same strength as before the offense (with the exception of a small penalty each against both teams at full numbers (5 against 5), in which case 4 against 4 is played and both penalties are on the clock). A team can never be reduced to fewer than three field players by penalties. In the case of the third penalty, which would result in a man less on the ice, the player concerned has to go to the penalty bench, but he is replaced by a team-mate on the ice and the penalty time does not start until a penalty time has been penalized beforehand Player has expired (deferred penalty). In Germany, there are some deviations from these rules in the age groups of small and small school students, also known as bambini and small school students.

If a player is fouled while the goalkeeper of the defending team is not on the field of play in a manner that would otherwise result in a penalty shot, a technical goal will be assigned to the fouled player.


Tactical thinking in ice hockey didn't begin until the 1950s. The pioneers in this area were the Eastern Europeans and Soviets, who slowly established a game system. During the Cold War , a strict distinction could be made between Soviet ice hockey, which was characterized by a short passing game to scoring opportunities, and a Canadian-North American style of play with more physical effort. The differences can no longer be seen so strictly today. Before developing a tactic, there was no proper separation of positions. Everyone could play however they wanted. With good tactics, technically weaker teams have often managed to win against more talented teams.

There are various ways to launch an attack. A popular variant, especially in North America, is the dump'n'chase game, in which the move begins with a long pass to the back gate. Tech-savvy players can get a chance to score by running through the neutral zone. There are also various pass routes that the center can use to reach a winger. Furthermore, the counter or the break is a popular alternative.

There are five different types of defense behavior:

  • Forechecking (the defending team tries to get the puck back in the attack zone)
  • Backchecking (the puck should not get into your own defense zone)
  • Man coverage
  • Area coverage (especially used if there are too few people in order to have to walk as little as possible)
  • Zone pressing (both the target player and the player who is likely to receive the puck next are covered).

This behavior is not rigid either, and these defense techniques can be combined with one another.


Ice hockey is particularly widespread where, before the invention of the refrigeration machine - and the associated possibility of creating artificial ice rinks - there was and is enough ice rink for regular practice of this sport. Operating such artificial ice rinks is usually very expensive. However, cheaper alternatives made of synthetic ice are now being offered that are very close to a conventional ice rink. This means that ice sports are now becoming more widespread in warmer regions such as South Africa.

Ice hockey is widespread especially in Canada , Russia (the former Soviet Union ) and the USA , the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as the Nordic countries (especially Sweden and Finland ), and in some cases in Germany . Ice hockey is also very important in Switzerland , Latvia and Austria and is one of the most popular sports there. The total number of ice hockey spectators in one season is far higher than that of football spectators in these countries. A traditional international highlight for club teams is also the Spengler Cup , which has been held since 1923 and takes place in Davos , in the canton of Graubünden , and has a much longer history than the European Cup and its follow-up competitions.


The rules of ice hockey proved to be better than other games on the ice that had been played for centuries, so that at the end of the 19th century ice hockey quickly enjoyed great popularity in large parts of Europe, but primarily in those regions where the winters were for the time being were longer.

The championship is determined today in almost all leagues through a play-off round, for which the best teams from the regular season qualify. In the first round, the best-placed team after the regular season meets the worst-placed, the second-best against the second-worst, etc. - the winners continue to play in the next round until the two remaining teams play the final. The encounters are usually played as a series of games, with participation in the next round being regulated by the best-of mode .

The economic importance of ice hockey is not as great in Europe as it is in North America, but marketing has become increasingly important in the top leagues in Europe in recent years. In the 1960s and 1970s you needed good youth work to be successful, today you need a professional structure. For example, the Hamburg Freezers did not do any youth work until 2005 because they had a financially strong investor in the Anschutz Group who runs its teams in Europe according to the North American franchise system.


In Germany, Berlin was initially the place of origin of ice hockey, later the southern German areas in Bavaria and parts of Baden-Württemberg in particular followed as the “strongholds” of the new sport. After the two world wars, the sport experienced a renewed upswing, also due to the establishment of the single-track ice hockey league as the highest German division in 1948 , which was finally replaced by the ice hockey Bundesliga in 1958 . While there was a clear dominance of Bavarian clubs in the early years, clubs from North Rhine-Westphalia also gained in importance in later years . Today ice hockey is one of the most important team sports in large parts of the country.

The top division in Germany has been the German Ice Hockey League (DEL), which has been nicknamed “1. Bundesliga " carries. In contrast to other sports, there is no tie in the German Ice Hockey League in order to avoid purely tactical games. Up to the 2005/06 season , a preliminary round game, in which it was tied after regular time, was decided with a penalty shoot-out. Between the 2006/07 season and the 2016/17 season , five minutes were played 4 against 4. Since the 2016/17 season , extra time has been played with 3 against 3. In the play-offs , extra time is played with the full number of players, which ends immediately when one of the two teams scores a goal. There is no penalty shootout, but rather extensions of 20 minutes each time until a team scores a goal. In the event of a win within the regular playing time, the winner receives three points, the loser zero, in the event of a win through extra time or penalty shoot-out, the winner is rewarded with two points and the loser with one point.


During the time of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy , ice hockey developed primarily in Vienna; after the First World War and the collapse of the monarchy, Austrian ice hockey gained in importance through international success. After the annexation to the German Reich , the national association was dissolved, and gaming operations finally came to a standstill in World War II . The association was not re-established until 1945, and in 1947 the national team was again able to win the bronze medal at a world championship.

The top division of Austrian ice hockey has existed in its current form since the 1965/66 season . However, the Austrian champions have been played intermittently since 1923. The record champions and at the same time the oldest club in the current field of participants is the EC KAC from Klagenfurt with 30 championship titles. The division, which is now called Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, has developed into an international league over the past few years, with four of the twelve participating teams coming from neighboring countries. The rules are almost identical to those in the rest of Central Europe, with the winner receiving three points in the event of a win within regular time, in the event of a tie both teams receive one point, and the winner an additional point after extra time or penalty shootout.


In Switzerland, ice hockey developed in line with neighboring countries; the national association was founded in 1908. The National League (formerly National League A) is now the highest ice hockey league in Switzerland. It currently consists of twelve teams. In a first phase (qualification), the championship is played as a round-robin tournament. Then the best eight teams determine the Swiss champions in play-off style, with the 1st placed against the 8th placed, the 2nd placed against the 7th placed etc. The name "National League" was used in the 2007 season / 08 introduced along with many additional innovations. The changes include a new cup and the expansion of the qualification to 50 rounds: Each team plays four times against every other team plus an additional six group games. For this purpose, the twelve clubs are divided into three groups of four, the composition of which is based on their geographical location. In each group of four there is a round trip, whereby these results are included in the overall ranking of the qualification, which includes 50 games.

Nordic countries

With the spread of ice hockey in Europe, Finland and Sweden in particular found a new national sport in this game, as, among other things, the conditions in these countries were ideal for ice hockey, which was then still played in the open air. Ice hockey could be played all year round in some parts of Sweden and Finland, so the new sport was quickly established. Above all, the national teams of these two Scandinavian countries developed into international greats in a short time, the two top divisions Svenska Hockeyligan and SM-liiga are now considered two of the most important divisions in the world.

A relatively strong ice hockey base has also developed in Norway and Denmark, but the class and popularity of the two elite leagues, GET-ligaen and Metal Ligaen , are not as high as in neighboring Scandinavian countries.


As a possible country of origin of ice hockey, in addition to the most widespread theory of its development in Canada, also Russia. However, it was not until the 1940s that ice hockey really developed and spread in what was then the Soviet Union. In 1947 the first championship of the USSR was held, in 1952 the Soviet Union joined the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). While bandy was mainly played on the ice in the Soviet Union until the 1950s, Soviet ice hockey developed from then on at an enormous pace.

During the Cold War , Russian ice hockey dominance developed with international successes in series, which was also due to the unclear professional situation of the Russian players in contrast to the North American amateurs at international tournaments. Clashes between East and West teams like the Miracle on Ice represented a sporting variant of the political conflict between the two camps. The Soviet national league was long considered one of the strongest leagues in the world, but after the collapse of the USSR a large number of the best players left to the National Hockey League to play on the US and Canada NHL teams.

The top division in Russia today is the Continental Hockey League , which replaced the Super League in 2008 and is characterized by its opening to teams from all over Europe and North Asia (teams from various former SU states, but also from the Czech Republic, Croatia and Slovakia in game operations) to develop into the opposite pole to the North American NHL.

Central and Eastern Europe

In the area of ​​the former Czechoslovakia , ice hockey developed very strongly from around 1920 and many teams of the so-called " Canadian hockey " were founded during this time. The Tatra Cup has been held in Poprad since 1929, making it the second oldest European ice hockey tournament. In addition to the capital Prague , major cities such as Bratislava , Budweis or Pilsen as well as the conurbations along the High Tatras have developed into important centers of ice hockey in Czechoslovakia , which also had an influence on the development of the sport in neighboring Poland , where the majority of the professional ice hockey teams can be found in the metropolitan areas of major southern Polish cities such as Katowice , Krakow , Tichau or Opole as well as along the Beskydy Mountains .

After the Second World War, ice hockey gained popularity in Czechoslovakia and became the number one sport in the country. The Czechoslovak national team was world champion several times and was one of the dominant national teams of the 1960s and 1970s, while the army club Dukla Jihlava won the Spengler Cup five times and reached the final of the European Cup eight times . After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992, separate associations with their own top divisions emerged in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (see Extraliga ). While the Czech national team took over the right to start from Czechoslovakia and won the world championship several times in the late 1990s, the Slovak national team only had to fight its way back to the top of the world from the third division to become world champion in 2002.

Ice hockey is also played throughout the Baltic States, but the most popular sport is in Latvia . In the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, ice hockey has a similarly high status within team sports, without the respective divisions in Poland ( Ekstraliga ), Belarus ( Extraliga ), Bulgaria ( A group ), Romania ( National Ice Hockey League ), Serbia ( Serbian Ice Hockey League ), Slovenia ( Prva Liga ) or Hungary ( OB I. Bajnokság ) achieve the quality and attendance of the leagues in the Czech Republic or Slovakia.

Rest of Europe

Ice hockey is also played almost everywhere in the rest of Europe, albeit at different levels. While ice hockey is as popular as in the neighboring countries to the north in northern Italy, especially in German-speaking South Tyrol , the sport is only very weakly represented in the south of the country. The national Serie A league was founded in 1924, making it one of the oldest ice hockey leagues in Europe. In France, ice hockey is one of the fringe sports, with important cup games such as the Coupe de France final in Paris being attended by more than 12,000 spectators.

In the UK and Ireland also Hockey is played, but merely as a fringe sport that is emerging especially in viewership and quality in international comparisons, which is partially in parallel were several professional leagues in the UK and there. The highest divisions are the Elite Ice Hockey League in Great Britain and the Irish Ice Hockey League in Ireland.

Although the southern European countries have mountainous regions with long winters, all metropolitan areas are in warmer regions. This is why ice hockey came up relatively late, but has also established itself there, for example with the Super League in Spain and the Portuguese Ice Hockey League . Ice hockey came to Greece via the North American diaspora, there is the Greek ice hockey league, in the north-west of the country ice hockey is played on natural ice in the mountains in the winter, the lake Drakolimni ("Dragonlake") is known for.

North America

In Canadian and American English, ice hockey is generally referred to as hockey . North American ice hockey focuses on Canada, where the sport is a national sport, and the northern areas of the USA. In the USA, hockey ranks behind baseball , American football and basketball because of its regional strength , but together with these sports it forms "the big four of US sport".

The National Hockey League (NHL), founded in 1917, is considered the best league in the world and the Stanley Cup is the most coveted ice hockey trophy.

Since the 1940s, the NHL league base has also been steadily professionalized and expanded. Today there is the American Hockey League (AHL), an elite minor league in which the top farm teams of the NHL franchises play. These include the ECHL (formerly East Coast Hockey League), Central Hockey League (CHL), West Coast Hockey League (WCHL) and International Hockey League (IHL). There are also professional youth leagues in Canada: the Western Hockey League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Ligue de hockey junior majeur du Québec (LHJMQ). The Minor Leagues assume, among other youth work for the NHL franchises.

In the 1990s, the economic importance of hockey in North America increased radically. The NHL franchises paid excessively high salaries, so some are still in heavy debt today. This was also evident in the negotiation of a new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement for the 2004/05 season , which ended in a player strike and lockout , so that the season was canceled. After more than a year of negotiations, a salary cap was decided to make the league more balanced and exciting.

A specialty in North American professional sport is the entry draft , which is also carried out in ice hockey ( NHL Entry Draft ). In the draft, the NHL teams secure the rights to talented junior players. A curiosity: Wayne Gretzky , considered by many to be the best player of all time, is one of the few of his generation who was not drafted. Most "draft picks" only play in the AHL or a junior league until they are "promoted" by their NHL team.

South America

Ice hockey is an absolute fringe sport in Latin America. There is only regular play in Mexico , whose national team is currently participating in official tournaments of the international ice hockey association IIHF . There are also ice hockey associations in Argentina , Brazil , Chile and Ecuador , but most of them are only dedicated to inline hockey and only have the term "ice hockey" in their name. Nevertheless, there are some hobby players in the south of Argentina and Chile, where in the winter of the southern hemisphere (approx. May to August) you can occasionally play on frozen rivers or lakes. However, this remains the exception - on the one hand, because the equipment necessary for ice hockey is relatively expensive (and difficult to obtain in South America ), on the other hand, because this sport is relatively unknown in the countries concerned.

The first professional hockey game on Latin American soil took place on September 23, 2006 in Puerto Rico : For the season opening of the North American professional league NHL , the teams of the Florida Panthers and the New York Rangers met at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan .

rest of the world

Ice hockey gradually spread in other parts of the world as well. The Asia League Ice Hockey is considered the most popular ice hockey league outside of North America and Europe and is home to teams from Japan , China and South Korea . In Australia ( Australian Ice Hockey League ) and New Zealand ( New Zealand Ice Hockey League ) as well as in South Africa , ice hockey has also been played in some cases for many decades, albeit in the form of an absolutely marginal sport. Nonetheless, several former NHL professionals have played in Australia at times.

In addition to the regular league operations, some African and Asian countries take part in the official IIHF game operations. In Africa these are Algeria and Morocco , as well as in Asia the United Arab Emirates , Kuwait , Macao and Thailand, among others .

International tournaments

There are various important international tournaments for the national ice hockey teams. The official ranking of the International Ice Hockey Federation ( International Ice Hockey Federation - IIHF ) is in accordance with this, the Olympic ice hockey tournament , which since 1924 takes place at the Winter Games, the most important tournament for national teams. In addition, find since 1920 official World Championships the IIHF instead, which are of great importance especially for the European teams.

Game scene from the Spengler Cup 2006 (Mora IK vs. Khimik)

Since the North American National Hockey League does not normally interrupt its season for the men's world championships and has only taken a break from the Olympic Games in 1998 , 2002 , 2006 , 2010 and 2014 , the prestige of these tournaments in Canada and the USA is relatively low . Above all, the world championships are accused of not having the best players in the world playing and therefore not being able to choose a real world champion. In addition, until 1976 only amateurs were allowed to take part in the world championships, so that Canada, for example, sent its amateur champions to the world championships for a long time. For this reason, the master of the Canadian and North American professional league has long been dubbed "World Champion".

In addition to the Olympic ice hockey tournament , the World Cup of Hockey has therefore become the most important tournament in ice hockey today. It is organized by the NHL in cooperation with the IIHF and has taken place so far in 1996 , 2004 and 2016 . Since the tournament takes place before the start of the NHL season, the best players of all nations can take part here, which significantly increases its importance, especially in North America.

Probably the best known and most traditional club tournament is the Spengler Cup , which has been held annually in Davos , Switzerland since 1923 . The record winner is the host HC Davos . The second oldest cup competition in Europe, the Tatranský pohár , has been held in Poprad , Slovakia , since 1929 .

Another important club competition in Europe was the IIHF European Champions Cup . The national champions of the six best European ice hockey associations according to the IIHF world rankings met annually between 2005 and 2008 . The first Cup was held in January 2005 at the Russian St. Petersburg instead. The winner was the Russian champion HK Awangard Omsk . The European Champions Cup was the successor to the European Hockey League , the most important club competition in Europe from 1996 to 2000. This in turn was the successor to the European Cup , which was held annually for over 30 years from 1965 to 1996. The initiation of a new continental competition, the Champions Hockey League , is the European Cup competition for ice hockey clubs held for the first time by the IIHF in the 2008/09 season.

Famous ice hockey players

Mario Lemieux

Various players have achieved worldwide fame and have been inducted into the international or national Hockey Hall of Fame . Famous players of the NHL were Wayne Gretzky ( "The Great One" ), Ron Hextall , Mario Lemieux ( "Super Mario" ), Bobby Orr , Gordie Howe , Bobby Hull , his son Brett Hull , Mark Messier , Patrick Roy , Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman (all Canada); as well as Mike Modano (USA), Jari Kurri (Finland), Nicklas Lidström and Peter Forsberg (Sweden), Jaromír Jágr (Czech Republic), and Pawel Bure (Russia). Exceptional Soviet players included Boris Mikhailov , Vladimir Petrov , Valeri Kharlamov , Wladislaw Tretyak , Vladimir Krutov , Igor Larionov , Sergei Makarov (the latter three together made up the famous KLM series ) as well as Vyacheslav Fetissov and Alexei Kassatonov .

Players such as Canadians Sidney Crosby , Connor McDavid , Auston Matthews and Steven Stamkos and Russians Alexander Ovechkin , Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Dazjuk enjoy great popularity among the active players .

Among the women, the Canadians Manon Rhéaume and Hayley Wickenheiser have achieved worldwide fame.

In Germany, Erich Kühnhackl was voted “Ice Hockey Player of the Century”, and the former national coach Hans Zach and Gerd Truntschka , Dieter “Didi” Hegen and Udo Kießling , who is also a German national record player , are well known.

With Uwe Krupp , who was the first German to Stanley Cup won and was from 2005 to 2011 national coach, and the current NHL pros Dennis Seidenberg , Tobias Rieder , leon draisaitl , Thomas Greiss , Tom Kühnhackl , Philipp Grubauer and Korbinian Holzer also enjoy German ice hockey player of international popularity. Other German ice hockey players in the NHL were Marco Sturm , Christoph Schubert , Jochen Hecht , Alexander Sulzer and Christian Ehrhoff .

Well-known players from Switzerland are the former or active NHL goalkeepers, Martin Gerber , Reto Berra , Jonas Hiller and David Aebischer , who was the first Swiss to win the Stanley Cup in the 2000/01 season. With Mark Streit , a Swiss field player was able to gain a foothold in the NHL for the first time at the beginning of the 2005/06 season . There are also players like Luca Sbisa , Raphael Diaz , Roman Josi , Nino Niederreiter and Damien Brunner , who are currently (as of 2014) active in the NHL. Other well-known players with a Swiss background can be seen in the list of Swiss players in the NHL .

A well-known Austrian ice hockey player from the seventies is Franz Voves , who has meanwhile switched to politics and played a total of 75 games for the Austrian national ice hockey team . Nowadays, active and former NHL players such as Thomas Pöck , Thomas Vanek , Michael Grabner , Michael and Thomas Raffl and Andreas Nödl are very well known in Austria.

Well-known ice hockey clubs

The clubs from the National Hockey League are among the most famous clubs worldwide . The " Original Six " ( Boston Bruins , Chicago Blackhawks , Detroit Red Wings , Canadiens de Montréal , New York Rangers , Toronto Maple Leafs ) - who are founding members or were included in the league in the early years - have the greatest tradition . The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim , which only made their NHL debut in the early 1990s, first received a certain boost in popularity through the sports film The Mighty Ducks , to which they ultimately owe their name. The team is now called “Anaheim Ducks”.

In addition to the North American ice hockey clubs, the multiple Soviet champions CSKA Moscow is one of the most famous ice hockey clubs. This most successful participant in the European Cup with 20 titles had one of the strongest teams in the world in the 1970s and 1980s. In several games against various NHL clubs ( Super Series ), all of which were played on North American soil, the CSKA had a positive result without exception.

In Germany, the Rhenish rivals Düsseldorfer EG (from 2000 to 2012 DEG Metro Stars ) and Kölner Haie (formerly Kölner EC ) are known, who fought several exciting duels for the German championship title in the 1990s . Clubs like the Krefeld Pinguine (champions 1952, 2003), Frankfurt Lions (champions 2004), Adler Mannheim (champions 1980, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007 and 2015) and DEL record champions Eisbären Berlin (champions 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013) great popularity. Teams as the EV feet (16-fold German master), EC Bad Nauheim , EC Bad Tölz , SB Rosenheim , the EV Landshut the SC Riessersee (10-fold German master) or the BSC Prussia , more specifically, the Berliner Schlittschuhclub , who is the record champion to this day, play a rather subordinate role in sport these days, but are still a certain amount of popularity due to their long-ago successes.

In the GDR , the "eternal duel" between SC Dynamo Berlin and SG Dynamo Weißwasser won the championship 25 times and Dynamo Berlin 15 times.

The best-known Swiss ice hockey clubs include the record champions HC Davos , SC Bern with the highest number of European visitors for years between 15 and 16 thousand spectators per game, the ZSC Lions from Zurich, the Kloten Flyers and HC Lugano . There are also smaller clubs that are very important in the respective regions, such as the SCL Tigers from Langnau, the EV Zug , the EHC Biel , Friborg-Gottéron or the HC Ambrì-Piotta .

The most famous Austrian ice hockey clubs are the record champions EC KAC as well as the EC VSV , the EHC Liwest Black Wings Linz , the EC Red Bull Salzburg and the Vienna Capitals .

Related sports

Inline hockey has almost the same equipment as ice hockey

A forerunner of ice hockey is bandy , an ice sport that is more similar to field hockey and soccer in several respects and is particularly practiced in Northern and Eastern Europe and North America .

From the sport of ice hockey, a number of independent sports have developed today: On the one hand, sledge ice hockey , also known as sled ice hockey , which enables ice hockey for physically impaired athletes, in whom the mobility of the lower limbs is restricted, and today as a sport in the fixed program of the Winter Paralympics is on. There is also the Chneblen, where you can do small tournaments on the ice rink for fun and without equipment. On the other hand, there are several "summer ice hockey" sports, such as floorball / floorball, inline hockey , inline skater hockey or street hockey , of which floorball, inline hockey and street hockey have their own world championships, the latter two also being carried out by the International Ice Hockey Federation or be supported. Floorball / floorball is a very popular variant, especially in Scandinavia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, which is played in normal sports halls and which can also be played as a mixed game. Street hockey is becoming more and more popular with young people because it can be played outside and just like floorball without a lot of equipment.

Another related sport, but not yet very well known in Germany, is broomball . The biggest differences compared to ice hockey are that you play the sport with special shoes on the ice and instead of ice hockey sticks and puck you use a "broom" and a ball.

A special variant is underwater ice hockey .


See also

Portal: Ice Hockey  - Overview of Wikipedia content on ice hockey

Web links

Wiktionary: Ice hockey  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Ice Hockey  Album with Pictures, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Stadtchronik 1960 , Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  2. ^ IIHF Official Rulebook. (PDF; 3 MB) with additions / changes for the DEB / DEL leagues. IIHF / DEB / DEL , June 2018, accessed on July 28, 2019 ( original English version from
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on July 9, 2005 .