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The Origins of Ice Hockey

Mark W Schwartz

An executive in the biotechnology industry, Mark W. Schwartz, PhD, serves as the director of Targazyme, a biopharmaceutical company in San Diego. In his free time, Dr. Mark W. Schwartz enjoys reading, wakeboarding, and playing ice hockey.

While the exact origins of ice hockey are largely unknown, most historians agree that it is derived from lacrosse and other early field games that used a stick and a ball. Historical evidence suggests that some versions of these types of games date back as far as the Middle Ages.
Even though it may have European origins, the modern sport of ice hockey is entirely Canadian. The first hockey games were played in the country in the mid-19th century, and in the 1870s, James Creighton, a student at Montreal's McGill University, developed the rules for the modern game. Together with several other McGill University students, Creighton also helped form the first recognized hockey team, the McGill University Hockey Club.
From McGill, hockey's popularity spread throughout Canada and quickly became the national sport. Soon, the game migrated south to the United States, and it eventually caught on in other countries around the globe. After growing in popularity as a professional sport, ice hockey made its Olympic debut in 1920.
Today, ice hockey remains popular in Canada, the United States, and many other countries worldwide. Although the NHL is the most well-known, top-rated hockey leagues also operate in Sweden, Russia, Finland, Slovakia, and Switzerland.

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