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Ice hockey
Ice hockey is a team sport played on ice in which two teams of skaters use sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net to score points. In some countries such as Canada, the United States, and some European countries such as Latvia and Sweden, it is often known simply as "hockey"; the name "ice hockey" is more used in countries where "hockey" generally refers to field hockey or both sports are almost as popular (such as South America, Asia, Africa, Australasia, and some European countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom). Ice hockey teams usually consist of four lines of three forwards, three pairs of defencemen, and two goaltenders. 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 (leading to the nickname "The Fastest Game on Earth"), 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's hockey and the most popular. Ice hockey is the official national winter sport of Canada, where the game enjoys immense popularity. Worldwide, there are ice hockey federations in 73 countries.

The sport is believed to be an off-shoot of stick and ball games invented elsewhere, particularly the games of the 1700s and 1800s in the United Kingdom. These games were brought to Canada and the United States and several similar winter games using informal rules developed, such as "shinney" and "ice polo". The first indoor hockey game was played on March 3, 1875, in Montreal, and some characteristics of that game such as the length of the ice rink and the use of a puck have been retained to this day. Amateur ice hockey leagues began in the 1880s, and professional ice hockey originated around 1900. The Stanley Cup, emblematic of ice hockey club supremacy, was first awarded in 1893 to recognize the Canadian amateur champion and later became the championship trophy of the NHL. In the early 1900s, the Canadian rules were adopted by the Ligue International de Hockey sur Glace, the precursor of today's International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the sport was played for the first time in the Olympics in the Olympic Games of 1920.

In international competitions, the national teams of seven countries predominate: Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United States. Of the 66 medals awarded all-time in men's competition at the Olympics, only six medals were not awarded to one of those countries. In the annual Ice Hockey World Championships, 162 of 177 medals have been awarded to the seven nations: All 12 Olympic and 36 IIHF World Women's Championships medals have been awarded to one of these seven countries, and every gold medal in both competitions has been won by either Canada or the United States.

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