Violence has always been an integral part of ice hockey culture. Two fatal incidents in 1905 and 1907 show that ice hockey players died as a result of ice fights.
Although no player has died from brawls since taking over as NHL in 1917, violence is still a feature of the sport. An unofficial role of the execution team, or goon – hilariously depicted in a 2011 film of the same name – is responsible for responding to dirty or violent play by the opposition.
Now, ice hockey is a fundamental aspect of Canadian national identity that permeates all levels of society, from books like Canadian Hockey Interpretation and Disney’s 1992 movie The Mighty Ducks. , to Saskatchewan University’s ‘Hockey in Canadian Literature’ course.
Take the 2002 Winter Olympics, when six million Canadians adjusted to see the women’s team win gold and 10 million, nearly one-third of the population, followed the men’s group after three days later.
How to play
NHL ice hockey matches are played on a rounded rectangular soccer field that is 100 feet (61m) long and 85 feet (26m) wide. The teams consist of six players – three foul players and three defensive players, including the goalkeeper. The matches last for three 20-minute intervals, with a break of between 15 minutes.
Replacements can take place ‘on the go’ (while the puck is playing) so transitions usually only slide for 90 seconds at a time. Offending players receive two, five or 10 minutes in the penalty box, depending on the severity of an offense but the penalty incurred by a goaltender is served by a teammate. Although all the players wear protective pads, the players are extremely heavy with a weight of 40 kg (18kg) of equipment.
The goal counts for a point but points are also given for support, up to a maximum of three points for a goal and provided the opposition did not handle the puck between the three players in the team to score. NHL game cannot end in a tie so if the score is at the level of 60 minutes, a five minute sudden death overtime, before firing, if a winner did not emerge during overtime.