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Sports Then and Now



A History of Outdoor Hockey 1

Posted on December 09, 2013 by Martin Banks

The sport of Hockey has its roots on the frozen ponds and lakes of North America, and many of today’s top players grew up learning the sport on local canals and other outdoor rinks. Invented by Canadians in the late 1700’s, and first referenced in print in 1799, the game had always been an outdoor sport. It wasn’t for almost another hundred years that Ice Hockey would first move inside, where it has largely remained ever since.

The first indoor game was held on March 3rd, 1875 in Montreal, Quebec at Victoria Skating Center, and was viewed as a novelty event. However, the indoor version of the game took off, and by 1920, Olympic Hockey was inside, although the 1924 Games were once again outdoors. International Championships would range between indoor and outdoor until the mid 1950’s, including an outdoor Gold Medal game in 1957 between Sweden and the Soviet Union, which boasted 55,000 people in attendance, a record that stood for 40 years.

The NHL has always been a strictly indoor league, but there have been a few notable exceptions. The first such game is probably the most curious, as the 1954 Detroit Red Wings accepted an invitation to play the inmates of the Marquette State Prison in a friendly scrimmage on a rink built by Warden’s mate Oakie Brumm. The Wings defeated the Marquette Prison Pirates soundly. So soundly no one remembers the final score, although it was 18-0 after the 1st period. The Wings even swapped a few players with the inmates to even it up a bit.

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