Happy birthday ice hockey!

First organized game was played 140 years ago in Montreal

03.03.2015
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The Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal was the place where the first organized ice hockey game was played on 3rd March 1875. Photo: IIHF Archive

Exactly 140 years ago, on 3rd March 1875, the first organized ice hockey game was played in Montreal at the Victoria Skating Rink.

McGill defeated Victoria 2-1 in that game that the IIHF in 2002 formally recognized as the first organized ice hockey game played between two teams with a set of rules and a referee, although earlier references to forms of the game exist but not in form of an organized game.

A flat piece of wood served as what we now call a hockey puck for that game 140 years ago played with nine players per side and over a predetermined length of 60 minutes.

The rules, also called McGill rules, were set by James George Aylwin Creighton, who was instrumental in the early development of the game in the 1870s and often referred to as the “father of hockey”.

The site of the Victoria Skating Rink is only 150 metres away from the Montreal Canadiens’ Bell Centre but the rink became less profitable when the Montreal Forum opened in 1924. It was sold in 1925, torn down and used as a parking garage ever since.

The indoor ice rink was 200 feet long – one block between Stanley and Drummond Streets – and 80 feet wide located just north of Dorchester Boulevard (now Rene Levesque Boulevard). With dimensions virtually the same like a modern NHL ice sheet, the 1862-built rink did not only define the game but also how big an ice rink is supposed to be in North America.

The Victoria Skating Rink used to be one of the finest natural ice rinks also in the beginning of the 20th century and was the location of the first Stanley Cup playoff games in 1894 just at the street that, same as the Cup, was named after its donor, Lord Stanley of Preston.

MARTIN MERK

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