International hockey timeline

1873 – James Creighton devises informal rules for a new winter game in Montreal, a game which later became known as ice hockey.  


1875 – The first pre-announced game between two named teams, officiated by a referee, with a recorded score is played at Montreal’s Victoria Skating Rink on March 3. James Creighton’s McGill team defeats Captain Torrence’s Victoria team 2-1.


1877 – McGill University in Montreal forms the first organized hockey team on January 31. On February 27, the Montreal Gazette publishes the first rules – seven in all – for hockey. The rules are based on field hockey rules.


1881 – The McGill University team poses at Montreal’s Crystal Palace Rink for what would be the world’s first photograph of a hockey team.


1893 – The first Stanley Cup games are played with Montreal Amateur Athletic Association Winged Wheelers being the first winners.


1897 – Canadian champion skater George Meagher travels to Paris, France and brings hockey equipment with him. He oversees a series of friendly games between Paris’ Palais de Glace Club and bandy clubs from London and Glasgow.


1902 – The first real ice hockey games in Europe are played at the Princes’ Skating Club in Knightsbridge, England.


1905 – Two international games between Belgium and France are played in Brussels on March 4, Belgium winning both, 3-0 and 4-2. Ice hockey games, with no unified set of rules, are also played in Switzerland that year.


1908 – The International Ice Hockey Federation, initially named Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (LIHG), is founded in Paris, France on May 15. France, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain and Bohemia are the founding members. The first LIHG-organized games are played in Berlin, Germany on November 3-5. Four club teams participate in games which feature two periods of 20 minutes each. Germany becomes the sixth member nation of the LIHG.  


1910 – The first LIHG European Championships take place in the Swiss winter resort of Les Avants on January 10-12. Great Britain is the first country to claim an international ice hockey championship.


1911 – The LIHG adopts “Canadian rules” for all levels of play on March 14.


1917—The National Hockey League is formed consisting of four teams—Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Arenas, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Wanderers.


1920 – The Olympic Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium host the first international ice hockey tournament with North American participation. The games are played on a very small rink, 56 x 18 meters. Canada (Winnipeg Falcons) wins gold. Teams play seven-men a side (the “extra” skater is the “rover”).


1921 – The first LIHG European Championships after World War I is contested. Only Sweden and Czechoslovakia take part in the Stockholm event, won by the Swedes, 7-4.


1923 – The LIHG adopts a new set of rules. The game is now played with five skaters and a goalie and the games consist of three, 15-minute periods. The rink size is 80 x 40 meters, considerably bigger than the eventual standard size of 60 x 30.


1930 – The first IIHF World Championship outside the Olympics take place in Chamonix, Berlin, and Vienna.


1933 – USA becomes the first country other than Canada to win the IIHF World Championship.


1936 – The three zones of the hockey rink are introduced. Players must carry the puck to another zone, not pass it. Body-checking is allowed only in the defensive zone. Rink size is changed to 60 x 30 meters. Great Britain stops Canada’s Olympic domination by winning gold in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.


1939-47—There is no World Championship or Olympic play during World War II.


1946 – The red line at centre ice and the modern offside rule is introduced in the new rule book. Body-checking is allowed only in the defensive half of the ice. All games now consist of three, 20-minute periods.


1947 – Czechoslovakia becomes the first non-North American team to win the IIHF World Championship.


1948 – Canada wins its fifth Olympic gold, but only on goal difference. The world is closing in.


1952 – Canada (Edmonton Mercurys) wins its sixth Olympic gold. It would be Canada’s last Olympic hockey gold medal for 50 years.


1953 – Sweden wins the IIHF World Championship for the first time, but only three teams finish the event held in Zurich, Switzerland.


1954 – The Soviet Union enters the IIHF World Championship and strikes gold in Stockholm, Sweden.


1956 – The Soviet Union wins their first Olympic gold, in Cortina, Italy.


1957 – The largest hockey crowd ever, more then 50.000 spectators at Moscow’s Lenin Stadium, watch Sweden win world championship gold after a 4-4-tie against the Soviet Union.


1960 – USA wins its first Olympic gold at Squaw Valley, California.


1961 – The Trail Smoke Eaters’ world championship gold in Geneva, Switzerland is the last of an era as the Soviet Union takes over. Canada’s world championship drought lasted 33 years.


1963 – The Soviet Union begins its streak of nine consecutive IIHF World Championship gold medals.


1964 – Canada gives up sending club teams to the World Championships and Olympics as Father David Bauer’s national team starts representing the country.


1968 – The Soviet Union wins its third Olympic gold, in Grenoble, France. Canada’s bronze was the country’s last international medal for ten years. 


1969 – Body-checking is allowed in all three zones in international hockey, a rule change that paves way for future confrontations between “amateurs” and “professionals.”


1970 – Canada leaves international hockey after a disagreement with the IIHF over the amateur rule. Sweden hosts the World Championship, initially allocated to Canada (Montreal and Winnipeg).  Canada does not participate again in either the World Championship or Olympics until 1977. The World Championship in Stockholm is the first where helmets are mandatory for skaters.


1971 – Czechoslovakia’s Marcel Sakac, Sweden’s Leif Holmqvist and Christer Abrahamsson and USA’s Carl Wetzel are the last goaltenders to play without a face mask in the World Championships, in Switzerland.


1972 – Czechoslovakia wins its first world championship gold in 23 years and ends the Soviet Union’s streak of nine consecutive world titles. This is the first year where there is both an Olympics and World Championship tournament. Hockey history is written in September as the Soviet Union takes on a fully professional Team Canada in the eight-game “Summit Series.” Canada’s Paul Henderson wins the series for Canada with just 34 seconds remaining in Game 8 in Moscow. Team USA becomes the first national squad to wear name bars on their sweaters at the Olympics in Sapporo. Swedish defenseman Thommie Bergman becomes the first European-trained player to occupy a regular roster spot and play a full season in the NHL, for Detroit. Goaltender’s face masks become mandatory in Olympics and World Championships.  


1973—Borje Salming, a Swedish defenseman, becomes the first European-trained player to achieve star status in the NHL, playing for Toronto.


1975—CSKA Moscow and the Montreal Canadiens play to an historic 3-3 tie at the Montreal Forum on New Year’s Eve, one of the finest exhibitions of pure hockey ever played.


1976 – The inaugural “open” international hockey tournament – Canada Cup -- is staged for the first time. Darryl Sittler’s overtime goal in game two of the best-of-three finals against Czechoslovakia in Montreal wins the cup for Canada. It is the first international tournament officiated by one referee and two linesmen as opposed to the two-referee system.


1977 – Canada re-enters the World Championship with a professional squad in Vienna, Austria after a seven-year absence but fails to win a medal. Czechoslovakia becomes the first country other than Canada and the Soviet Union to win two consecutive World Championship gold medals. It is the first World Championship which is officiated by one referee and two linesmen. The IIHF introduces the World Junior (U20) Championship as a formal, annual event which for the previous three years had been an invitational tournament only and not sanctioned by the governing body.


1979 – The Soviet Union shocks the NHL All-Star Team in the Challenge Cup by winning the third and decisive game 6-0 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

1980 – The biggest upset in international hockey history: A collegian Team USA defeats the Soviet Union 4-3 at Lake Placid en route to a gold medal. The Soviet’s silver breaks what would have been a streak of eight consecutive Olympic gold medals by Soviet Union/Russia.

1981 – The Soviet Union beats Sweden 13-1 in the most lopsided World Championship decider and goes on to defeat Team Canada 8-1 in the one-game Canada Cup final in Montreal, arguably the most crushing defeat in Canada’s international hockey history.  

1983 — Legendary Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak is selected by Montreal in the NHL’s Entry Draft, though he is never allowed to join the team. Tretiak retires following the next season as the most successful player in the history of international hockey with ten World Championship gold medals, two silver and one bronze, including three Olympic golds and one silver.

1984 – The Soviet Union does not lose a game for over four years and sweeps through the Sarajevo Olympics undefeated, claiming its sixth Olympic gold. Canada makes up for its 1981 defeat by winning this year’s Canada Cup. Mike Bossy’s dramatic overtime goal in the semifinal inflicts the Soviets their first loss since Lake Placid 1980. 

1987 – Sweden wins its first World Championship gold in 25 years, in Vienna, Austria. Canada wins the fourth Canada Cup after a three-game series against the Soviet Union where all games end with the same score, 6-5. Canada’s Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky dominate the series.

1988 – The Soviet Union wins its seventh and last Olympic hockey gold, in Calgary, Canada.

1989 – Alexander Mogilny becomes the first Soviet hockey defector as he leaves the team immediately following the World Championship in Stockholm.

1990 – The Eastern Bloc starts to collapse and many players from former socialist countries can be freely signed by NHL-clubs. The first IIHF-sanctioned World Women’s Championship takes place in Ottawa, Canada.

1992 – Sweden wins consecutive World Championship gold medals for the first time. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – the former Soviet Union and the future Russia – wins Olympic gold in Albertville, France. The IIHF abandons round-robin playoffs as means of determining the medalists and introduces the cup-system with quarterfinals, semifinals and final.

1993 – Russia wins its first World Championship gold, but it also marks the end of the Soviet Union/Russian dominance after 39 years.

1994 – Sweden wins its first Olympic gold, in Lillehammer, Norway, after Peter Forsberg’s daring shootout goal against Canada, a goal so famous that it eventually became a postage stamp in Sweden.

1994 – Canada wins its first world championship gold in 33 years, in Milan, Italy, becoming the first team to win the IIHF World Championship in a shootout. Luc Robitaille is the shootout hero in the final against Finland.

1995 – Finland becomes the seventh nation to win the IIHF World Championship gold as they defeat archrival Sweden on their home ice in Stockholm.

1996 – USA wins the inaugural World Cup of Hockey, which replaced the Canada Cup. It’s the USA’s biggest international success since the 1980 Olympic “Miracle on Ice”.

1997 – IIHF Congress decides to take away the red line for the purpose of allowing the two-line pass, the most important rule change in international hockey since 1969. The new rule is implemented for the first time at the 1999 World Championship in Norway. The IIHF Hall of Fame is established.

1998 – For the first time since its founding in 1917, the National Hockey League takes a break to allow its players to participate in the Olympic Winter Games. Surprisingly, the Czech Republic wins its first Olympic gold in Nagano, Japan. Women’s hockey makes its debut on the Olympic program and USA wins the historic gold medal, defeating arch-rival Canada.

1999 – Jan Hlavac becomes the first player to decide a World Championship gold medal game in overtime as Czechs defeat Finland in Lillehammer, Norway.

2001 – The Czech Republic becomes the first nation other than Canada and the Soviet Union to win three consecutive World Championships.

2002 – Canada ends a 50-year drought by winning Olympic gold in Salt Lake City, USA. The country strikes a double as Canada’s women also win. Slovakia becomes the eighth nation to win the World Championship, in Gothenburg, Sweden, two months after finishing 13th in the Olympics.

2004 – Canada wins consecutive World Championship titles for the first time since 1959. The Canadians defeat Sweden in both 2003 and 2004.

2006 – Sweden becomes the first country in international hockey history to win Olympic gold and the World Championship in the same year, capturing the titles in Turin and Riga, respectively.  The Swedish women also make history by defeating USA in a shootout in the semi-finals, earning a silver medal and marking the first time a women’s final featured a matchup other than Canada-USA.

2007 – IIHF introduces the three-point system. The World Championship in Moscow is the first IIHF’s flagship event where a regulation-time win is awarded with three points.    

2008 — Canada hosts its first World Championship to mark the centenary of the IIHF. Quebec City (celebrating its 400th anniversary) and Halifax host the 56 games and 16 countries.



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