By Angela Tempest
Whether you are an avid hockey fan or someone new to the game, there are lots of facts to know about the sport.
From the roots of the game through to the traditions and superstitions involved with it and even some unbelievable little snippets of information – here are 10 fun hockey facts to get you started!
Basics of the game
For newcomers to the game, here’s the basics – hockey has two teams whose aim to get the ball, known as a puck, into the opposing side’s goal with the use of a hockey stick. You can play hockey on other surfaces but the kind of hockey we are talking about here is played on ice – hence it is sometimes known as ice hockey. Teams have six players each – one goal tender or goalie and five outfield players.
1. Hockey pucks are frozen before the game to stop them bouncing around during the play. Pucks are made from rubber so if they weren’t frozen, they would behave a bit more like a golf ball – no good hitting one of those with a stick and expecting it to go into the opposing team’s goal!
2. Back when hockey first started, rubber wasn’t always used for the puck. Instead a patty of frozen cow manure was used – let’s hope they got the game played before the puck melted or the smell would have been terrible
3. At the start of the game, the referee used to put the puck down between the players sticks but there were so many injuries with cuts and bruises as the players scrambled for it, they changed the rules in 1914 to allow the ref to drop the puck instead
Funny facts about the game
Like every sport, there are lots of funny facts about it, those weird little rules that probably made perfect sense when they were written but now just seem a bit quirky. An example is the rule that is the team has two goalies, one in place and one reverse but they both get injured, the team can draft in anyone – including someone from the crowd.
Other funny facts:
4. The goalie is not allowed to cross the centre red line into the opponent’s half for any reason during the game – so there’s no soccer style chance of the opposing goalie scoring a goal
5. The Stanley Cup is the trophy awarded to the winner of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the tradition is that every player in that winning team gets to spend a day with the trophy. It is often used to eat food and has hosted everything from chicken wings to cereal and ice cream!
6. There are also three versions of the Stanley Cup (with all that eating, it isn’t a bad idea) with the original one being kept in the Hockey Hall of Fame. There is also the Presentation Cup and the Replica Cup
7. The Stanley Cup even has its own Twitter account. Well, the guy who keeps and chaperones it does, by the name of Philip Pritchard. He regularly shares images from the Cup’s trips around the world
Where would hockey be without the players? These are the guys who make the game what it is and in more ways than one. For example, there are their superstitions and funny habits:
8. Former player Joe Nieuwendyk always had the same meal before a game – two pieces of toast with peanut butter.
9. Other players have routine superstitions – Sidney Crosby, for example, never spoke to his mum before a game. The three times he broken the rule, he was injured during the game
10. The iconic goalie mask that players now wear to protect their faces was actually created by a player. Back in 1959, Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante wore a goalie mask for the first time and players have continued to use a variation of it since