Month: October 2016

Alpha Launch of Our Website

Welcome to IceHockeyLeagues.com. We are in Alpha state as there are some exciting new statistics we will eventually incorporate into the site as resources become available.

The purpose of this site is to appreciate the story of hockey by writing about its historical roots and track how it has grown into a billion dollar business empire and worldwide sport.

Hockey started as a recreational activity that existed only during the winter months in Canada. Now it is world-wide sport where for the first time in the history of the National Hockey League, the number of Canadians has dropped below 50.0% of all active players. Some will be saddened by this. I see it as an exciting new chapter in the evolution of Hockey as a sport and cultural phenomenon.

So welcome to the site. If you wish to participate in the site through comments or to become a guest writer, you can register for an account.

Chris

Carnivals, Challenges, and Cups – Beginnings of Ice Hockey League Play

Ice Hockey’s origins is up for wide debate. As a raw concept, playing a game where an object is being knocked around with sticks are known to date back to pre-Christian times and in non-Christian lands.

The indigenous people of North America played lacrosse while in Europe, these games included the Irish game of hurling, the Scottish game of shinty , the Welsh game of bando, the English game of bandie, and other versions of field hockey. In Russia, they took the concept and translated it to winter play in what is known in English as bandy. In England, evidence of games of “hockey on ice” (the name replaced “bandie ball”), played with a “bung” (a plug of cork or oak used as a stopper on a barrel) date back to the 1700s. The first organized game of ice field hockey was played in 1875 in London.

Hockey as a term has been used for about 500 years. In 1573, the town of Galway in Ireland banned a sport called “‘hokie’—the hurling of a little ball with sticks or staves”.

Yet, Ice Hockey is a distinct creation that comes from the New World.

British soldiers and immigrants to Canada and the United States brought their stick-and-ball games with them and played them on the ice and snow of winter. In 1825, John Franklin wrote “The game of hockey played on the ice was the morning sport” on Great Bear Lake during one of his Arctic expeditions. A mid-1830s watercolour portrays New Brunswick lieutenant governor Archibald Campbell and his family with British soldiers on skates playing a stick-on-ice sport.

1830 - A 19th-century watercolour of group of skaters gliding serenely on a frozen river, bundled ladies in sleighs amid the striding military men.
A 1830s watercolour of group of skaters gliding serenely on a frozen river, bundled ladies in sleighs amid the striding military men.

Ice Hockey got its organized start in Canada, at the city of Montreal in the francophone province of Quebec. There is evidence that ice hockey’s heritage in league play begins as far back as 1883 when the first organized tournament took place at the Montreal Winter Carnival.

The first chapter in the story of Ice Hockey Leagues begins in Montreal, at a Winter Carnival. The structure of play was through a series of teams challenging each other in a game to determine a winner, and then the winner of said challenges won the first trophy of Ice Hockey – the Carnival Cup!

Montreal Winter Carnival, 1883

In 1883, the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA) and McGill University were both asked to participate in the Carnival by organizing for the first time ever an ice hockey tournament. MAAA did not field a team, but McGill University fielded its own team, and two more teams were invited to play in a three-team tournament.  They played partly outdoors on the Saint Lawrence River.

The first carnival tournament was held from January 26 to January 27. The Montreal Victorias, McGill University, and Quebec Hockey Club contested for a Tournament trophy called the Carnival Cup. McGill University was the winner of the challenge Tournament.

 

Cumulative Championships to 1883 Montreal Winter Carnival Tournament
Team # of Premier Championships Premier Championship Points
McGill University 1 (1883) 2 (+2)

 

The first MWC Tournament was a very modest affair, lasting only two days with each of the three teams playing one single game, but it became the beginning of the hockey league lineage that stretches to the modern day!

Starting in 1883 with only three teams playing three games over two days, the humble beginnings of the MWC Hockey Tournament lead to the creation of the first persistent league. Four Montreal-based teams plus one team from Ottawa played in the MWC and also formed the AHAC in 1887. It is because of this direct linkage the MWC Hockey Tournament is considered to be the direct predecessor to the AHAC for historical and statistical purposes.

Montreal Winter Carnival, 1884

In 1884, the first ever hockey tournament that debuted at the 1883 Montreal Winter Carnival returned for a second year. MAAA again did not field a team, but McGill University, Montreal Victorias, Ottawa Hockey Club, Montreal Crystals, and Montreal Wanderers were invited to play in a five-team tournament at the McGill University hockey rink.

The 1884 tournament (played from February 4 to February 11) saw several games lost due to rain. The outdoor rink was unplayable on February 6 and the Crystals and Wanderers had issues with forfeiting their games. The Montreal Victorias was the winner of the challenge Tournament.

 

Cumulative Championships to 1884 Montreal Winter Carnival Tournament
Team # of Premier Championships Premier Championship Points
Montreal Victorias 1 (1884) 4 (+4)
McGill University 1 (1883) 2

 

Starting in 1883 with only three teams playing three games over two days, the humble beginnings of the MWC Hockey Tournament lead to the creation of the first persistent league. Four Montreal-based teams plus one team from Ottawa played in the MWC and also formed the AHAC in 1887. It is because of this direct linkage the MWC Hockey Tournament is considered to be the direct predecessor to the AHAC for historical and statistical purposes.