Typically when someone says "hockey," we think of North American and European guys duking it out Original Six style on a 85 x 200 ft. sheet of ice. On a broader spectrum, however, "hockey" is an umbrella term for a diverse collection of sports in which two competing teams try to score goals by shooting a ball or puck into the opposition's net, by using a hockey stick.
Historically, there have been games based on the same premise as hockey (ball and stick), dating back to 4,000-year-old drawings in Egypt. An ancient Celtic game known as "hurling," which has both distinct similarities and differences to hockey, has been dominant in Ireland for the better part of two millenniums.
In China, the predecessor to field hockey called "Beikou" has been played for over 1,000 years. However, the first known game to be played on a sheet of ice using curved sticks and a ball, was played in the Netherlands during the Middle Ages.
Ice hockey as we have come to know it, is said to have its roots in Canada. It was being played by British soldiers and showed influences from these earlier forms of the sport (Shinty, Kolven) and used sticks made by the natives of the region (Mi'kmaq). The first organized games were played by students at McGill University in Montreal in 1875. It was these same students who codified the rules just two years later.
Most people have heard about the more popular forms of hockey (ice hockey, field hockey, roller hockey, Shinny), so this article takes a look at some of the lesser known, but equally interesting variations of the sport we all love. Enjoy!