How Old Is Atom Hockey? [Updated!]

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When Did It Begin?

Atom Hockey is the combination of two words that are often misunderstood: atom and hockey. One might expect that a play on the ice would be named after a particular element, but this is not the case.

The game itself has been around since the late 1800s, but it did not become popularized until the 1920s, when organized hockey leagues began to gain popularity. It was at this time that the names “Atom” and “Hockey” were used together for the first time.

The first reference to Atom Hockey was found in the book “Hockey for the Twenty Million” by Frank Fredericks in 1921. In this book, Fredericks described a new sport that was beginning to emerge and that he named Atom Hockey.

Where Does It Come From?

The term “Atom” was first used in the context of science in 1896, when the English scientist Ernest Rutherford used it to describe the sub-atomic particles that he was studying. Unfortunately, the term “Atom” began to have other meanings after Rutherford’s discovery, and it eventually lost its meaning in science. Nevertheless, the game of Atom Hockey has stuck around, and the name has been used to describe the game ever since.

What Is It?

Atom Hockey is a game that is similar to ice hockey, but played on an inclined plane with the ice skating surface sloping toward the middle. The objective is to score as many goals as possible by throwing the hockey puck into the opposing goal.

The puck is always in constant motion, and players are engaged in continuous follow-the-ball action. In addition, players are not allowed to use their hands to stop the puck; they must rely on their edge and speed alone. Because of this, Atom Hockey is sometimes mistaken for ice hockey, even though it is played on an inclined plane and uses a puck that is slightly smaller than the puck used in regular ice hockey.

Why Do They Call It ‘Atom Hockey’?

There is no clear definition of “why” the game is called “Atom Hockey”, but it is generally accepted that the name refers to the fact that play is derived from the scientific principles that were first described by Rutherford in 1896 as “the atom”.

Since the game is named after Rutherford’s early experiments with sub-atomic particles, one might expect that it would be played on an ice field that is similar to a football field in length and width. Interestingly, this is not the case. While the length of the ice surface is consistent with an “ice football” analogy, the width is closer to a “half-court” basketball court.

Classic Moments In Atom Hockey History

There have been many moments in the history of the game of Atom Hockey that have defined it as a truly unique and exciting game. Here are a few of the more classic ones.

The First Game

The first game of Atom Hockey was played on May 17, 1922, in the State Hockey League in Chicago. The home team, the Chicago Flyers, were facing the visiting Springfield Indians.

The game was tied at 1-1 at the end of the first period, and it was the beginning of the second period before the puck made it onto the ice for the first offensive rush. After a heavy rain began to fall and the ice was getting dangerously slippery, the umpires decided to end the game and scrap the next scheduled game.

The weather was perfect the next day, and the Indians’ request to continue the game was denied. Nevertheless, on May 21, 1922, the hockey gods finally smiled upon the Chicago Flyers, and they managed to win the very first State Hockey League championship by defeating the Springfield Indians 7-3.

A Record-Breaking Season

In the early years of the game, the State Hockey League broke all of the records for goals, assists, and points scored by a team throughout a single season. That was pretty good for a game that was only played during the winter months. However, modern scoring has made that level of achievement almost impossible.

In 2007/2008, the Colorado Avalanche set the all-time record for most goals in a single season with 242. Several other teams had previously held the record for the most goals in a season, but none of those records could now be considered valid, as the Avalanche broke them all last year.

Goal Scoring

Goaltending was not a factor in early years of the State Hockey League, and as a result, goals were freely scored. However, as the league grew in size and popularity, a goaltending rule was implemented. This rule essentially stipulated that an opponent had to be in possession of the puck in the defensive zone for at least four minutes before a score could be declared. Also, no more than three players could be on the ice at a time, and no boarding was allowed. These rules were all designed to curtail the free-wheeling tactics of the early years and make the game more athletic and exciting.

The First All-Star Game

The very first All-Star Game was held in 1934 in the form of a “best of seven” series between all-stars and touring professionals. The home team, the Springfield Whirlwinds, defeated the visiting New York Rangers 4-2 in the best of seven series.

This was the first of many All-Star Games that would be played, with some featuring just NHL teams and others featuring all professional and touring players. The NHL would eventually take control of the game and start their own All-Star Series, which now includes over 20 teams from Canada and the U.S.

The Great Depression

During the Great Depression, organized hockey leagues nearly ceased to exist. However, during those years, a lot of social and community hockey took place. It was during this time that teams from as far away as Minneapolis would travel to Chicago for the winter, and the social aspect of the game was heavily influenced by that fact. As a result, hockey during the Great Depression became more of a “working man’s game”.

The Evolution Of Hockey

As mentioned above, organized hockey leagues and teams did not emerge until the early 1920s, and even then, they were not popularized throughout the United States until the Great Depression. During those years, many modifications and adjustments had to be made to regular ice hockey, including the addition of another skater and two smaller pucks, to increase the difficulty and excitement of the game. In order to accommodate these changes, as well as those made by the growing popularity of the game, the hockey world evolved in several different ways.

Increased Player Safety

One of the most significant changes that came about as a result of the Great Depression was the increased safety of the players. Prior to that time, there were no helmets or face masks, and sticks could even be made of wood, which easily broke under the sheer force of a check from behind.

As a result of the increasing safety of the players, full-contact hockey emerged during the 1930s, with teams starting to utilize fighters and enforcers to protect their goaltenders from physical attacks. This was a major shift in hockey, and it gave birth to a new style of play that relied more on skill and strategy than on pure physicality.

In addition, since the Great Depression ended and teams began to emerge from the shadows, the competitive spirit of the game has been revived. The result is that teams are playing better hockey than they have in years, and thrilling games have become commonplace.

More Passing

Another significant change that came about as a result of the Great Depression was the increasing amount of passing that is taking place in the NHL and throughout the entire hockey world. It was during this time that teams began to realize the importance of maintaining quick and continuous passing in order to counter the strength and physicality of their opponents.

One of the major reasons why the game of hockey was so popular in the early years was because it was easy to learn. If you could skate well, you could play the game, regardless of your size or gender. However, as more sophisticated rules and modifications were added, the complexity of the game increased. As a result, only the most dedicated and skilled players could participate.

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