It is thought that ice hockey evolved from simple stick and ball games played in the 1700s and 1800s in the UK. That’s right: ice hockey evolved from the UK!
The games were brought over to North America where winter games like ice polo were created. The first known ice hockey game was played in Montréal, Canada in 1875.
The Stanley Cup was first awarded in 1893 and it is the oldest professional sports trophy in America. Nowadays, it is awarded to the playoff winner of the National Hockey League.
The first amateur leagues were founded in the 1880s before becoming professional in 1900. The NHL was founded at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal in 1917 and is now considered the world’s premier hockey league.
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) was created in 1908. Its original five members being Great Britain, Bohemia, Switzerland, France and Belgium. Canada won the first Olympic title in 1920 before winning the first IIHF world championship.
In 1980, the British Hockey League was founded and remained the top-flight ice hockey league in the UK until 1996 when it was replaced with the Ice Hockey Superleague and the British National League.
The Ice Hockey Superleague was disbanded in 2003 and was replaced by the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) which remains the highest level ice hockey league in the UK today. The British National League folded in 2005 leaving the teams to either join the EIHL or the EPIHL (English Premier Ice Hockey League).
The EPIHL ceased in 2017 and teams either moved to the EIHL or the National Ice Hockey League operated by the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA).
There are over 100 years of ice hockey history. Much of it is preserved in the NHL’s Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada. This is where the display Stanley Cup is kept for visitors.