Fun Hockey Facts

Ice hockey, also called ‘Canada's favorite sport’ is known for being fast paced and intense. So you can expect a lot of interesting information surrounding this sport that might not be common knowledge.

Below you will find not only a brief history of ice hockey but also a collection of fun facts for you to bring out during the next NHL game.

History Of Hockey

The idea of ball and stick games have been around since pre-Christian times. Field hockey is said to particularly take influence from the games found around 18th century England.

Lacrosse has also been noted as an influence. Unfortunately because of all these different styles of game, no one is 100% sure when the first ice hockey game took place.

Previous descriptions of field hockey have referenced some games taking place on ice.

A 1797 engraving was found of a person on skates with a stick and bung on a frozen Thames River in London.

Until 1875, ice hockey was a pretty chaotic game with no set rules in place. Then the first modern game played in Canada was conducted under ‘Hockey Association’ rules.

The Hockey Association however was a British field hockey association, not ice hockey one.

The first instance of ice hockey appearing in the Olympics was during the 1920 Summer games. It was later transferred to the Winter games when they were created.

The first Winter Olympics took place in Chamonix, France in 1924. The first women's tournament took place at the 1998 Winter Olympics hosted at Nagano, Japan.

In typical fashion Canada holds the most total medals in ice hockey, they also hold the most gold medals.

Interesting Facts

  • The modern version of ice hockey can be traced back to Canada. The first modern game took place in Montreal on March 3rd 1875.
  • There are typically 82 games of hockey per season. A regular season runs from early October to early April.
  • The most common shot found in ice hockey is the wrist shot.
  • Prior to 1928, forward passes were not allowed.
  • The record for the most shots in one game is 92 done in 1936.
  • Each team only gets one 30 second timeout per game.
  • Matthews Arena in Boston is the oldest ice hockey arena still in use being built in 1910.
  • Hockey is believed to come from the French word ‘hoquet’ which translates to a shepherd's staff. 
  • The ice on an rink is usually about 3 inches deep. A typical ice rink is -9 degrees celsius, about 16 degrees fahrenheit.
  • The Zamboni was created by Frank Zamboni in 1949.
  • Naps are a key part of hockey with players usually having a nap before a game.
  • 80 percent of Canada watched the men's hockey finale in the 2010 Olympic games. That is around 26.5 million Canadians.
  • The modern goaltender mask was first used during a game in 1959 by Jacques Plate of the Montreal Canadiens. After being hit in the head and needing stitches, Plate refused to go back onto the ice without the helmet.
  • The last hockey player to not wear a helmet was Craig MacTavish who retired in 1997.
  • A player can lose 5 to 10 pounds of water weight in a game. To combat this players will drink a lot of fluids.
  • Hockey sticks were not always curved, pre the 1960s they were straight.
  • If both goalie and the backup goalie are injured, per the rules, the team can literally choose any available goalie they want. This includes fans like accountant Scott Foster, who in 2018 played with the Chicago Blackhawks and saved seven shots out of seven.
  • The shortest NHL player is Roy Woters, standing at 5 feet 3 inches.
  • In comparison, the tallest NHL player is Zdeno Chara at 6 feet 9 inches. About 7 feet tall in skates.
  • In 1974, the Buffalo Sabres drafted a made-up player to mock the slow NHL drafting process. This player was called Taro Tsujimoto of the Tokyo Katanas, also a made-up team. The NHL did not realize the player was fictional until much later,, where the draft was then made invalid.
  • While ice hockey is an indoor game there has been one instance of a game being rained out. This happened in 1995 because a nearby river overflowed and flooded the arena.
  • Wearing a mouthguard is optional in the NHL.
  • Regulation hockey nets are 6 feet wide and 4 feet tall.
  • Kris Draper, also known as the ‘One Dollar Man’, was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for 1 dollar in 1993. He ended up winning 4 Stanley Cups with them being considered the most lopsided trade in NHL history.
  • The first goalie to shoot a puck into an opponent's empty net and score a goal was Ron Hextall in the 1987-88 season.
  • In 1971, Bob Orr received the first million dollar contract. It was $200,000 for 5 years signed to him by the Boston Bruins.
  • Speaking of Boston Bruin, Phil Esposito was the first player to score 100 points in one season.

The Hockey Puck

  • A traditional hockey puck is 3 inches wide and weighs 6 ounces.
  • While the word puck was known, it wasn’t written down until February 7th 1876. Due to this, February 7th is considered the hockey puck's birthday.
  • Earliest known hockey pucks were allegedly made from frozen cow dung. 
  • Later on pucks were made from lacrosse balls which were cut into thirds.
  • Pucks are pre frozen for a game so they don't bounce. Whenever they defrost they get swapped out so around 12 are used per game. The highest amount used was 22. One game in 1979 historically only used one puck.
  • According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the fastest ice hockey shot was 110.3mph by Denis Kulyash in 2011.
  • Swedish hockey player Alexander Wennberg once scored a goal by having the hockey puck accidentally shoved into his trousers and being dropped out at the opponents goal.
  • It is possible to split a puck during a game.
  • A referee will now drop the hockey puck instead of placing it. That is because when they previously placed the puck between the opposing sticks it would end in injury for the referee.
  • Nasa uses 2-ton hockey pucks when training astronauts to move large objects in microgravity.

The Stanley Cup

  • Being established in 1893, the Stanley Cup pre-dates the NHL by 24 years.
  • It was named after Lord Stanley of Preston who was appointed the Governor General of Canada by Queen Victoria in 1888.
  • The Stanley Cup is awarded every year bar two. The first being in 1919 due to the Spanish Flu outbreak and the other in 2005 because of a strike.
  • Originally the Stanley Cup was 7 inches tall but has grown in size as every year the winners' names are engraved on it. There are 12 women who have their names on it, them being team owners and executives.
  • There are 2 names on the cup which are scratched out with a series of Xs. 
  • If you’re lucky enough to get a close enough look at the Stanley Cup you will see that it is covered in misspellings. Jacques Plante in particular has his name spelt 5 different ways on the cup.
  • Once won, each player on the team is awarded 24 hours with the cup to do whatever they want. The Stanley Cup does have a keeper though which will also need to tag along.
  • Across history the Stanley Cup has seen a lot of things. It has been left on the side of the road, used as a cereal bowl, lost on a flight, and has even been to a strip club.

Animals In Hockey

  • Originally called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Anaheim Ducks are named after the Disney movie ‘The Mighty Ducks’.
  • The Anaheim Ducks are referenced in the movie ‘Space Jam’ when Daffy Duck recommends they call their team The Ducks. Bug Bunny then responded with "What kind of Mickey Mouse organization would name their team The Ducks?".
  • The Legend of the Octopus is a ritual that happens during Detroit Red Wings home playoff games where dead octopuses are thrown onto the rink. This has persisted since 1952 despite rules on what you can bring to a hockey game.
  • In 1968, the Pittsburgh Penguins had their first mascot, Pete. The difference was that Pete was a live penguin. Unfortunately, Pete passed away in November of the same year of pneumonia.
  • The only known animal death during a NHL game happened in 1974. Due to a fog filled arena, a bat was unfortunately killed by Jim Lorentz of the Buffalo Sabres.
  • A live chicken was tossed onto the ice in 1988 when a fan was upset with the way his team was playing.
  • In Russia, circus bears have been trained and forced to perform ice skating for entertainment since 1962. They have also been shown doing various acrobatics.