11 things you probably didn’t know about ice hockey


1. Plexiglass was first put around the ice rink after a 1979 brawl between the players and fans.

(See original video on YouTube HERE)

The brawl broke out at the end of a Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers game when a spectator grabbed a player’s stick and cut his face with a game program. Three Bruins players were fined $500 and suspended for multiple games because they climbed the wall and beat up the spectator. Mike Millbury, a Bruin defenseman, created a name for himself when he removed a spectator’s shoe and beat him with it. The spectator was also fined $500 and sentenced to six months in jail. Since the incident, all NHL hockey rinks were given higher plexiglass barriers so that players and fans could not brawl.


2. The original Stanley Cup was only seven inches tall.

(See original video on YouTube HERE)

The now-massive trophy was named after the Canadian Governor Frederick Stanley in 1888. Stanley and his family took great interest in hockey and bought a seven-inch-tall decorative punch bowl to be passed around the hockey league to the winners of tournaments. Stanley did give permission for teams to engrave their names on it when they won the league championships. Since then, the Stanley Cup has been replaced by the current cup and new rules allow for the name of every member of the winning hockey team’s staff, team, and management to be engraved on the trophy. Because of this, layers were added to the cup to make it possible to fit all the names on it. It now stands at almost 35 inches tall. When a new layer is needed, they remove the oldest and store it in the NHL hall of fame. In 1924, after the Montreal Canadiens won the cup, they accidentally forgot it on the side of the road after their bus stopped to fix a flat tire. Luckily for them, they returned to find the cup sitting right where they had left it on the side of the road.


 3. Fighting in hockey is much more than throwing the gloves off.

(See original YouTube video HERE)

Fighting in hockey has dated back to its origins. While it can be considered a controversial topic among critics, many players see it as a way of protecting each other. There are a number of highly skilled players on each team and because of the physical nature of the game, these players need protecting. Teams have unofficial “enforcers” that are placed on the ice just to warn the other team not to mess with them. Some fights are pre-planned, while others are completely spontaneous. In the 2012-2013 NHL season, there were 469 fights.


4. Players have to serve more penalty time if blood is spilt.

(See original YouTube video HERE)

According to the hockey rules, a high-sticking penalty is issued when a player raises his stick above the shoulders of another player. If a player is hit with a stick by an opponent above the shoulders, a minor penalty is issued for two minutes in the penalty box. If there is an injury, or blood spilt, a double-minor penalty is issued for a total of four minutes in the penalty box. This idea is unique to North American sports as the injury result of a penalty effects the gravity of how a player is punished.


5. Before each game, hockey pucks are chilled so that they do not bounce.

(See original YouTube video HERE)

Hockey pucks are made of dense vulcanized rubber. They measure at one inch thick and three inches wide. Because of the rubbery material, pucks are kept chilled in an ice box during games to make them bounce less and slide more. The sides of hockey pucks has grooves so as to grip against hockey stick tape making it easier for players to add speed to their shots. It is rumored that the earliest form of hockey pucks were frozen cow pies.


6. An average Zamboni travels 2,000 miles per year.

(See original YouTube video HERE)

The Zamboni machine is what resurfaces the ice in between each hockey period. The machine scrapes away the loose ice on the rink, then applies a cold liquid solution that freezes over, creating a smooth surface. In the NHL, because the rink needs frequent resurfacing, each Zamboni machine is predicted to travel over 2000 miles per year. Over 10,000 Zamboni machines have been sold worldwide and twenty machines were used for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics alone.


7. Until 1914, referees would place the puck down on the ice instead of dropping it.

(See original YouTube video HERE)

In an ice hockey face-off, the players of opposing teams wait for the referee to drop the puck into the middle of the group. Up until 1914, however, instead of dropping pucks, referees were required to place the puck onto the ice. This practice proved to be too dangerous as referees were injured frequently with cuts, bruises and even broken hands.


8. The last time a goaltender played without a mask was just in 1974.

(See original YouTube video HERE)

Andy Brown was the last goaltender in NHL history to play without a face mask. The fact that it took all the way until 1974 before all goaltenders were protected is surprising, considering the great danger they face in front of the net. The fastest ever recorded shot in NHL history was clocked at 108.8 miles per hour by Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins. This speed gives an idea of how dangerous the position of a goaltender could be, especially without a mask.


9. Bears used to play hockey.

(See original YouTube video HERE)

Okay, so they don’t really play competitively. But since 1962, bears were trained to play hockey for the Moscow Circus. The act continued at least until 1999 when the traveling circus faced great opposition by animal rights activists in Canada. Since then, the Moscow Circus has omitted animal acts from their performances.


10. The Detroit Red Wings fans throw octopi onto the ice during home playoff games.

(See original YouTube video HERE)

The Legend of the Octopus dates back to 1952 when the die hard Detroit Red Wings fans threw octopi onto the ice rink. Their team went on to win eight straight games to win the championship, making the symbolic correlation with the eight tentacles of an octopus. Ever since, fans have continued the tradition. In 1995, fans thew a record 38 octopi onto the ice with one of them weighing 38 pounds.

11. The Florida Panthers fans threw rats on the ice with each home game goal.

(See original YouTube video HERE)

This tradition started in 1995 when Florida Panthers wing John Mellanby killed a rat in the locker room just before the season home opener game. He went on to score two goals in that game with the same stick for the win. Fans found out and started showering the ice with plastic rats after each home goal to the point where thousands were falling each game. With the rat becoming a tradition for the Panthers, home tickets started selling out and the team became the best team in their conference. They entered the playoffs for the first time in their club’s history. After the season ended, NHL officials made a rule banning the throwing of objects onto the ice and the tradition of throwing rats after each goal was brought to a halt. Since 2012, however, there has been a revival of the tradition and rats are thrown after home victories.

BYU Hockey

While you won’t find many of these things at a BYU hockey game, you will find some. You’ll find hard hits, close competition and even the occasional brawl. BYU’s home games are played at Seven Peaks Ice Arena in Provo. For more information, please visit byuhockey.org.

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