Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ice hockey


Ice hockey (frequently simply called hockey in countries where it is the most popular form of hockey) is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use sticks to direct a puck into the opposing team's goal. It is a fast-paced and physical sport. Ice hockey is most popular in areas that are sufficiently cold for natural reliable seasonal ice cover, such as Canada, the northern United States, the Nordic countries (especially Sweden and Finland), Russia, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. With the advent of indoor artificial ice rinks it has become a year-round pastime in these areas. Ice hockey is one of the four major North American professional sports. Worldwide the National Hockey League (NHL) is the highest level for men and the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) and the Western Women's Hockey League (WWHL) are the highest level for women. It is the official national winter sport of Canada, where the game enjoys immense popularity. While only six of the thirty NHL franchises are based in Canada, Canadians make up a majority of the league's players.

While there are 66 total members of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), 162 of 177 medals at the IIHF World Championships have been taken by seven nations: Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia,
Slovakia, Sweden and the United States[1][2]. Of the 63 medals awarded in men's competition at the Olympic level from 1920 on, only six did not go to the one of those countries. All nine Olympic and 27 IIHF World Women Championships medals have gone to one of those seven countries. [3]


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