Ice hockey in the United Kingdom

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Ice hockey in the United Kingdom
Team GB 1936.png
Great Britain won gold at the 1936 Winter Olympics, but have generally struggled since the Second World War.
Country United Kingdom
Governing body Ice Hockey UK
National team Men's national team;
Women's national team
First played 1893
National competitions

Ice hockey has been played in the United Kingdom since the beginning of the twentieth century, and it was a game between Englishmen that is generally accepted to have started the modern era of the sport.[2] The Great Britain men's national ice hockey team enjoyed worldwide success through the 1920s and 1930s, achieving bronze at the 1924 Olympics, and gold twelve years later.[3] They also won medals at the World Championships in 1935, 1937 and 1938, though never won the tournament. The national team has struggled since the Second World War, and has not finished better than twelfth in the World Championships since 1962. Ice hockey is played professionally in the United Kingdom in the Elite Ice Hockey League, a ten-team league which was founded in 2003.[4]


Ice hockey was first played in Canada during the early nineteenth century, based on similar sports such as field hockey that were played in Europe.[5] The sport was originally played with a stick and ball, but in 1860 a group of English veterans from the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment played a game in Kingston, Ontario, utilising a puck for what is believed to be the first time. This match, played on the frozen harbour by the city, is sometimes considered to be the birth of modern ice hockey.[6] The game developed quickly in Canada, and in the late nineteenth century, Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby purchased a decorative punch bowl from a London silversmith to award to the leading amateur side in the country: this became known as the Stanley Cup.[7]

In the United Kingdom, a five-team league was in operation in England in 1903;[6] the first in Europe. The league was contested at two rinks in London: the Prince's Skating Club in Knightsbridge and Hengler's Ice Rink in the City of Westminster. It was won by the London Canadians.[8] The first game to be played in Scotland occurred five years later in Crossmyloof, Glasgow. The same year saw the creation of the International Ice Hockey Federation, of which Great Britain was a founding member. The British Ice Hockey Association was set up in 1914, and continued until 1999, when it was replaced by Ice Hockey UK.[6]


  1. ^ Crawford, Garry; Gosling, Victoria K. (1 July 2004). "The Myth of the ‘Puck Bunny’ Female Fans and Men’s Ice Hockey". Sociology. 38 (3): 477–493. doi:10.1177/0038038504043214. Retrieved 28 November 2016 – via 
  2. ^ Gittings, Paul (2013-02-13). "Ice hockey's David faces Goliathan challenge -". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  3. ^ Steve Pinder. "Ice Hockey: Britain complete 58-year circle: Today the British ice hockey team face Russia in their first appearance in a world championship since the 1936 Olympics. Steve Pinder reports". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-10-28. 
  4. ^ Sports Around the World: History, Culture, and Practice. p. 123. Retrieved 2016-10-28. 
  5. ^ "Ice Hockey Equipment and History". The Olympic Movement. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "About Ice Hockey". Ice Hockey UK. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  7. ^ Gregory, Sean (2 June 2009). "A Brief History Of The Stanley Cup". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Facts". Ice Hockey Journalists UK. Retrieved 7 January 2012.