Even before the appearance of hockey in the 16th centurygames with a ball and putter were played on ice in Holland. Then similar games appeared in England and Scandinavia, where they were subsequently transformed into ice hockey in the 19th century.
Modern ice hockey as a sports game originated in Canada. It is a country whose climate and nature (with numerous ponds that freeze in wintertime, and long winters) created good conditions for the game to become popular. Initially the game was played not with a puck but with a heavy ball, and there were up to 50 players or more on each team.
In 1879 U. F.Robertson, a Canadian, formulated the rules of hockey, and then a rubber puck was proposed to be used in the game. In 1885, the Amateur Hockey Association was founded in Montreal. The first official rules of the game of ice hockey were published in 1886, and most of them remained unchanged to this day. The changes included reducing the number of players from nine to seven, the conditions of the number of players on the ice was also changed.The team now included a goalkeeper, front and back defenders, a central forward and two wingers.The area in front of the gates was reserved for the strongest player, the rover.
In 1899, the world's first indoor stadium for ice hockey was built in Montreal, designed for an unprecedented number of spectators — 10,000 people. The Canadian Amateur Hockey League was founded in the same year.
The first professional ice hockey team was organized in Canada in 1904. In four seasons the game was finally split into professional and amateur versions. In the late 19th century, Canadian hockey came to Europe.
In 1914, professional ice hockey clubs got united into the National Hockey League (NHL). In 1908 Great Britain, Bohemia, Switzerland, France and Belgium founded the International Ice Hockey Federation (LIH, after 1979 — IIHF).
The rules of the game were constantly changed: for example, in 1900, a net was placed on the goal, making it possible to determine precisely if the goal was indeed scored. Later, the size of the hockey rink was established, and the time of the game was made standard (with three periods of 20 minutes), the number of players on the field was reduced to 6, and substitutions not related to health reasons were allowed. The Patrick brothers suggested other innovations: they proposed assigning numbers to players, created a new system for calculating points, and the rink was divided into a number of zones.
In 1929, goalkeeper Clint Benedict became the first player to put on a mask, and in 1945,multi-colored lights for more accurate counting of goals were set up behind the gate, with the red light for the goal, and the green light for a miss.
In recent years, women's teams started appearing and in 1998 women's hockey tournaments were included in the program of the Olympic Games.