Hockey Historical Firsts

From frozen ponds to the present indoor game, hockey has really been an evolution and tapestry of different elements which can’t be traced to one specific time or period. Even so, through out it’s history are some interesting accounts of information and dates which have helped develop the game to what it is today.

1800 – Hockey’s Birthplace

The birthplace of early hockey games began on long pond Windsor, Nova Scotia around 1800. There, students from Kings college began playing an ice version of the Irish game Hurley. From there different stick-ball games were developing including ice bandy, wicket, break shins ice lacrosse, shinny, rugby, etc. (1)

1838 – First Hockey Stick

The first hockey stick was created in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. Made by a Mikmaq native Indian. (2)

1848 – First Hockey Skates

The modern skates were invented by EV Bushnell of Philadelphia in 1848. (3)

1851 – First Natural Indoor Ice Rink

First natural indoor ice rink was the Quebec Skating Rink 1851, 1852.First indoor rink in the US was the Great Chicago Skating Rink in 1860. (4)

Ice lacrosse game, St. Peters River South Dakota in 1848 – Image supplied by James Laverance

1856 – Arrival of Hockey to USA

Earliest known arrival of game in the USA was 1856. It shows that St. Pauls high school in Concord New Hampshire opened that year. They were playing shinny to ice field hockey to ice polo. (5)

1860 – First Hockey Puck

While playing in the Windsor-Halifax-Dartmouth area a native Indian tribe called Mic Macs provided wooden pucks cut from tree branches in 1860. (6)

1870 – The First Artificial Indoor Skating Rink

The first artificial indoor skating rink was built by William Newton in New York City using Matthew Bujac’s method of ice-making built in 1870. (7)

1875 – First Indoor Game or Hockey

The first indoor and semi-organized game was played with 9 plaers per side in the Victoria skating rink Montreal on march 3rd, 1875. Organized by James Creighton using previous Halifax rules. (8)

The number of players were reduced to 7 in 1883 at the Montreal Winter Carnival. Positions were now named; Goalkeeper, Point, Cover point, Rover, Left wing, Right wing and Centre. (9)

1880 – Sticks, Pucks and Rules are Imported to USA

James Conover a schoolmaster there visited Montreal in 1880 discovered the modern rules and brought back sticks, pucks,and rules. (10)

1886 – First International Hockey Match

In 1886 Burlington Vermont held a winter carnival and Montreal sent 2 teams to form a 3 team tournament. A local team called the Van Ness House Club from Vermont played The Montreal HC in first ever match between to countries. Montreal won 3-0. (11)

Other sorts of leagues and scheduled games were being organized around that time. Later in 1886 the Amateur Hockey Association was formed in Montreal, making it the first organized hockey league in Canada. (12)

1890 – The First Hockey Net

1890-91 first goal nets were invented from ice polo at Storrs Agricultural School which is now known as Uconn. Early goalie like pads were worn same time there. (13)

1896 – Hockey Pants Worn

Early hockey pants were worn in 1896-97 at Detroit Medical College. (14)

1903 – Modern Goalie Pads Worn

Modern goalie pads worn at Duluth Central High School in 1903-04. (15)

1904 – First Professional Hockey League

The first professional league was organized in Portage, Michigan in 1904 and it was called the International Professional Hockey League. Local business man James Dee and Canadian dentist Doc Gibson formed a four team league. (16)

Early 6 on 6 version of game was played at Washington Park Brooklyn in 1908. The Brooklyn Crescents beat Yale 4-1. (17)

1920 – The First Helmet

A helmet was first worn by Frank Goheen from Minnesota in the late 1910’s early 1920’s. (18)

1920s – Blocker Invented

Blocker invention Lorne Chabot from Canada 1920’s. (19)

1930s – Goalie Trapper Invented

The goalie trapper was invented out of a baseball mitt by Mike Karakas from Minnesota in the late 1930’s. (20)

1959 Jacques Plante invents full face mask. (21)

Harvard’s Part in the Development of Hockey

Harvard has had a rich history to the development of the game. In 1911-12 coach Alfred Winsor would change the defense positions. Instead of having one in front of the other, he switched to a parallel formation which was called the Winsor System. (22)

In 1923 coach William Claflin and George Owen invents the full 3 man line change. (23)

Research and Documentation Provided by Mr. James Laverance