Updated: 23/07/2013 10:28 | By pa.press.net

Sochi 2014: Ice hockey



Protective equipment is vital in ice hockey (© Copyright [c] Press Association Ltd. 2013, All Rights Reserved.)

Protective equipment is vital in ice hockey

History

Ice hockey's origins began in Canada in the mid-19th century. The famous Stanley Cup was first presented in 1892 and the sport quickly spread through the United States and then to Europe.

Men's ice hockey was first contested at the 1920 Summer Games in Antwerp before becoming part of the 1924 Winter programme.

Due to issues concerning professionalism, NHL stars were not permitted to compete until 1998 - the same year in which women's ice hockey made its debut on the Olympic programme.

Disciplines

Both men's and women's ice hockey competitions at Sochi 2014 begin with a group stage. In the men's event, the top nine teams are seeded across three groups, with the group winners and the best-placed runners-up advancing to the quarter-finals. The remaining eight teams play a further qualification game for the chance to join them.

The women's format differs in that the top four seeds start in the same preliminary group. The top two qualify directly for the semi-finals, whereas the third and fourth-placed teams play off against the top two teams in Group B. Equipment With a rubberised puck that can travel at speeds of over 120mph, players wear shoulder, shin, elbow and knee covers. Goalkeepers wear a blocking glove and a catching glove, as well as a full face mask and leg guards.

Helmets with secured chin-straps are essential, as are skates with safety heel guards to minimise the risk of injury.

Stars

Numerous NHL superstars have graced the Olympic stage since the row between professional and amateurism was finally ended in 1998, and the Games have made global stars of men such as Sidney Crosby, who scored the winning goal in overtime to clinch gold for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Russia's challenge is led by Evgeni Malkin, who has missed out on a medal in the last two Games.

The undoubted star of the women's game is Hayley Wickenheiser, who has led Canada to three consecutive Olympic titles, as well as seven world crowns.

Venue

The ice hockey events at Sochi 2014 take place at the Bolshoy Ice Dome and the Shayba Arena.

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