Ice hockey was born in Canada. It is believed British garrisons, stationed here in the 1700s, adapted the rules of a variety of sports so they could be played on snow or ice. The first set of rules specifying a puck and a flat piece of wood was written in 1837. The cities of Halifax, Montreal, Kingston and Windsor were all sites of some of the first games played with rules resembling the modern ones.
Men’s ice hockey made its Olympic debut at the Summer Games of 1920, moving to the inaugural Olympic Winter Games in 1924. Women’s ice hockey debuted 74 years later.
The object of the game of ice hockey is to get the puck into the goal defended by the opposing team. The ice surface is divided in half by a centre red line and into thirds by two blue lines. A 1.22 m x 2.53 m area in front of the goal, called the “goal crease”, is off limits to an attacking player unless the puck is already in the crease. All typical rules apply to Olympic ice hockey.
A regular game consists of three 20-minute periods, with a 15-minute intermission after the first and second periods. If a tie occurs in a game in which a winner must be determined, a sudden-victory overtime period is played. During the gold medal game, a 20-minute, sudden-victory period is played. In the event of a tie after a sudden-victory period, a game-winning shoot-out determines the winner.
At the Olympic Winter Games, eight women’s teams and 12 men’s teams compete in round-robin tournaments. Top-seeded teams advance. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games ice hockey tournaments are played on a North American ice surface which is four metres narrower than international rinks.