Ice hockey is a team sport played on ice in which skaters use sticks to shoot a hard rubber hockey puck into their opponent's net to score points. In Canada and the United States, it is known as "hockey"; the name "ice hockey" is used in most other countries where "hockey" generally refers to field hockey.
A team usually consists of four lines of three forwards, three pairs of defensemen, and two goalies. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take the puck and score a goal against the opposing team. Each team has a goaltender who tries to stop the puck from going into the goal.
A fast-paced physical sport, hockey is most popular in areas of North America (particularly Canada and northern parts of the United States) and Europe. In North America, the National Hockey League (NHL) is the highest level for men ice hockey and the most popular. It is the official national winter sport of Canada, where the game enjoys immense popularity. The first organized game was played on March 3, 1875, in Montreal.
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. Of the 66 medals awarded in men's competition at the Olympics from 1920, only six medals did not go to the one of those countries. All 12 Olympic and 36 IIHF World Women's Championships medals have gone to one of these seven countries, and every gold medal in both competitions has been won by either Canada or the United States.
A winter sport is a sport which is played on snow or ice. Most such sports are variations of skiing, ice skating and sledding. Traditionally such sports were only played in cold areas during winter, but artificial snow and ice allow more flexibility. Common individual sports include cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, speed skating, figure skating, luge, skeleton, bobsleigh and snowmobiling. Common team sports include ice hockey, curling and bandy. Winter sports often have their own multi-sport tournaments, such as the Winter Olympic Games.