Ice Hockey as such most probably originated in Canada between 1840 and 1875, where the indigenous people knew ball games already at the time of the colonisation of the Europeans, first of the French and then the British. While the term hockey originates from French and means “crooked stick”, it were the British soldiers who brought the game played with a stick and a ball from their Celtic home called Shindy to Canada in the middle of the 19th century. Due to the weather conditions, the game was played on ice and snow.
While only soldiers played the game at the beginning, students from Montreal, the most important city in Canada back then, started to join very soon and developed a fixed rulebook for the new sports on ice. A more or less fixed league schedule developed shortly after and the first ice hockey game in a hall with fixed rules was staged in 1875 in the Victoria Skating Ring in Montreal. Starting from the east of Canada/Quebec, the new game spread in many countries, but especially within Canada, where it became the unquestioned national sport during the next couple of decades. Ice hockey or more the idea behind the game already reached Europe at the end of the 19th century and got established in those countries, especially in Scandinavia and the Alpine region, where the climate conditions were suitable as the game was played outside on ice.
Accordingly a distinct culture of Ice Hockey developed especially in Sweden, Norway and Finland as well as in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and a little bit later in the countries of the former Eastern bloc, with Czechoslovakia leading the way. The just mentioned countries plus the country of origin Canada, the United States of America as well as Russia and the successor states of the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia are also the ice hockey hotspots with the strongest leagues and national teams on this planet.
What started in the middle of the 19th century in Canada has become, at least on the northern hemisphere, one of the most popular team sports that attracts tens of thousands fans yearly and has a turnover of multi-million dollar amounts. Consequently, the international ice hockey organisation, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), founded in 1908 in Paris and now situated in Zurich, has 72 members from all continents in 2015: 56 full members and 14 associated members, which do not have their own national ice hockey organisations and include the only African member Morocco, as well as Chile and Namibia, who, however, only participate in the Inline-Hockey competitions organized by the IIHF. Besides the rather insignificant Inline-Hockey competitions, the IIHF also organises important competitions such as the ice hockey world championships for women and men and releases the rankings for all ice hockey nations.
While the Ice Hockey World Championships in the men’s category, organised by the IIHF, has been staged yearly since 1920, the first world championship in the women’s category was first staged in 1990. Although no ice hockey world championship were held during the second world war due to understandable reasons, the number of ice hockey nations grew steadily from the early 1950ies onwards, with the result that it was impossible for all signed-in nations to participate in the same world championship tournament at once at the end of the 1950ies. Therefore, the IIHF decided to introduce the categorization of the ice hockey nations – A-, B-, or C- group or A-, B- or C-championships, in 1987 the D-group or D-championship was added – based on their strength in 1961 with relegations and promotions within the groups. At the beginning of the 21st century this mode was further adjusted to the different occurrences. Since then, the ice hockey world champion is played off in the so-called top-division, which includes the 16 strongest ice hockey nations. The league below is called Division I, where two series with six teams each play against each other and the top two teams are promoted to the Top-Division. The best two teams of the Division II are then promoted to the Division I. Division III, where all new or returning teams have to start, only consists of one series with six or possibly more teams. The division allocation in the women’s and youth category works analogously to the men’s category.
While the Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament is only held once every four years, the men’s world championship in the Top-Division represents the season highlight on an international level. At Rivalo you can therefore find a comprehensive betting offer with the usual attractive odds for the Ice Hockey World Championships, which is normally staged in May (due to considerations for the NHL). No matter if long-term, diverse special- or our exciting live bets, ice hockey fans should get their money’s worth beforehand on www.rivalo.com. The next ice hockey world championships of the Top-Division will be hold between May 1 and May 17 in the Czech Republic and the bookmakers at Rivalo will already start with the preparations in the coming days.
The most successful nations at the ice hockey world championships in the men’s category are Russia including Soviet Union with 27 titles, followed by Canada with 24, the Czech Republic or/and Czechoslovakia with 12 triumphs and Sweden, who has won the world championship nine times so far. Moreover, Finland as well as the USA won the world championship twice and the United Kingdom as well as Slovakia once. At the 15 ice hockey world championships in the women’s category, only two nations have won so far: Canada won ten titles in total and the United States of America won five times.
In terms of importance, especially in North America, the Olympic ice hockey tournaments are leading the way in the ice hockey category. This is especially due to the fact that the big ice hockey nations usually do not participate with their strongest players at the world championships. This is again due to the fact that the play-offs in the North American National Hockey League, the best and most prestigious ice hockey league, are hold in May and the most ice hockey superstars are still playing at their clubs in the NHL or in the NHL play-offs during this time. This is mostly true for players from the United States as well as Canada. Therefore these two nations usually participate with better College teams, including some, but not all the best, NHL players at the world championship. As most European ice hockey superstars earn their money in the NHL, European nations such as Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia as well Russia face the just discussed problem as well, however, not as much as the previously mentioned countries.
The most successful nations at the Olympic ice hockey tournaments, for which the NHL is interrupted in order for the strongest ice hockey nations to participate with their strongest possible team, is the nine times gold medallist Canada, closely followed by Russia and the Soviet Union with eight gold medals each. The two-times winner USA and Sweden as well as the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia) and the UK with one Olympic gold medal each follow further behind. Although the next Olympic ice hockey tournament will be staged in three years, we already guarantee an extensive ice hockey betting offer with the usual attractive odds for this event. As previously mentioned, the North American National Hockey League or short NHL is the strongest and most prestigious ice hockey league. The professional league, which was founded in 1917, consists of 30 ice hockey teams, 23 teams from the United States of America and 7 Canadian teams, which play in two conferences and four divisions to win the Stanley Cup, the ne plus ultra in ice hockey on club level.
The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), the highest ice hockey league in Russia that also includes Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Finland, Belarus, Latvia and Croatian, has gained in importance in the past few years. During the season 2014/2015, 27 teams played in two conferences and four divisions to win the Gagarin-Cup (named after the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin) in the KHL. The KHL has become the second strongest ice hockey league after the NHL since its foundation in 2008. Especially players from Russia and countries from the former Soviet Union earn their money in the KHL instead of the NHL. Besides the NHL and KHL, the German DEL, the Swiss National league A, the Swedish Svenska Hockeyligan, the Finish SM-liiga and the Czech extra league count as the strong ice hockey leagues (with respectable distance) that attract thousands of ice hockey fans.
Most important Ice Hockey Leagues worldwide:
- NHL (USA & Canada)
- KHL (Russia)
- DEL (Germany)
- Svenska Hockeyligan (Sweden)
For all just mentioned ice hockey leagues you can find an extensive betting offer with attractive odds at www.rivalo.com. No matter if long-term bets on the Stanley-up winner or the winner of the Gagarin-cup; double chance-, handicap-, over/under-, period-, Head-to-head or goal bets before the games or a wide live betting offer during the ice hockey games, friends of ice hockey and sports betting get their money’s worth at Rivalo.