|National federation||USA Hockey|
|Top league||National Hockey League|
|Current champion||Chicago Blackhawks|
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to its east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait, and the state of Hawaii is in the mid-Pacific. The United States also possesses several territories, or insular areas, that are scattered around the Caribbean and Pacific.
History of hockey in the USA
The first documented ice hockey games in the United States were played in 1886. Since the Montreal Winter Carnival was not held that year, the city of Burlington, Vermont decided to stage a similar event, and invited several Canadian hockey teams for a tournament. The Montreal Crystals and the Montreal Hockey Club accepted, as did the Ottawa Hockey Club, which later withdrew due to scheduling conflicts. A local team was quickly assembled from the employees of the Van Ness House, a hotel in Burlington. Montreal HC won the gold medal, and the Crystal won the silver. Originally scheduled for February 15–19, the organizers were forced to move the events one week earlier due to unseasonable weather.
The Burlington Winter Carnival was held on February 22–26. The hockey games were played on Lake Champlain in heavy wind. The first game was played on the morning of February 26, with two 20-minute halves. There was no score through 40 minutes, and Montreal's R. Smith scored in overtime. The second game was between Montreal HC and Van Ness House, and it was the first ever international ice hockey game. The players representing Van Ness House did not have any hockey experience, having only gone through a few practices prior to the carnival. The two teams played two 15-minute periods, with Montreal winning 3–0 and thus claiming the gold medal. The final game was played in two 10-minute periods, with Joseph McGoldrick of the Crystals scoring the only goal to capture the silver medal.
The first recorded game involving two American teams was played between Yale University and Johns Hopkins University in 1893. In 1894, the first artificial ice rink was built in Maryland. The rink was called the North Avenue Ice Palace, which was located in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Western Pennsylvania Hockey League was founded in 1896, and operated until 1909. The American Amateur Hockey League was also founded in 1896, and at first consisted of teams solely in New York City. In 1914, a team from Boston joined the league. The AAHL ceased operations after the 1917-18 season. The International Professional Hockey League became the first professional hockey league in the United States when it was founded in 1904. The league lasted for three seasons, and it folded after the 1906-07 season.
The Portland Rosebuds joined the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in the 1914-15 season. After that, the trustees of the Stanley Cup made a statement that the trophy was no longer for the best team in Canada, but now the best team in the whole world (in reality, just the US and Canada). The Rosebuds became the first American team to compete in the Stanley Cup Finals two years later. In the year 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to win the Stanley Cup.
The United States Amateur Hockey Association was founded in 1920, and the country joined the IIHF the same year. Prior to 1920, amateur hockey in the US had been controlled by the International Skating Union.
Leagues and Competitions
In 1924, the Boston Bruins were the first American team to join the National Hockey League. During that season, the first NHL game was played in the United States where the Bruins defeated the Montreal Maroons 2-1. That same season, the NHL increased the season schedule from 24 games to 30 games. Three more American teams the New York Rangers, Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Cougars, joined the NHL in the year 1926. That same year, the Western Hockey League fell apart and sold most of its players to the new NHL teams. In 1942, the Brooklyn Americans withdrew from the NHL. This left the Canadians, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Bruins, Rangers, and Black hawks as the only teams left in the NHL for the next 25 years. Those six teams are now called "the Original Six." Presently, the 23 out of the NHL's 30 teams are based in the United States, and American teams have won the Stanley Cup every year since the 1994-95 season.
Between 1931 and 1953, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) organized the United States National Senior Hockey Championship.
There have been numerous semi-professional and minor professional leagues in the United States over the years. Minor pro leagues currently operating are the American Hockey League, ECHL, Federal Hockey League, and the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association organized the first college ice hockey championship in 1948, which was won by Michigan. Michigan has won nine NCAA titles, North Dakota eight, and Denver seven. A Division II tournament existed from 1978 to 1999, and a Division III tournament has been contested since 1984.
Junior hockey in the United States is subdivided into several levels. Currently, there are eight American teams in the Canadian Hockey League: four teams in Washington and one in Oregon in the Western Hockey League; and two teams in Michigan and one in Pennsylvania within the Ontario Hockey League.
The United States has one Tier I junior league, the United States Hockey League, which has existed since 1947. The North American Hockey League, which was founded in 1975, is currently the only Tier II junior league in the USA. The United States currently has six Tier III leagues: the Eastern Hockey League, North American 3 Atlantic Hockey League, North American 3 Hockey League, Northern Pacific Hockey League, Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League, and the United States Premier Hockey League. There is also the AAU-sanctioned Western States Hockey League
National Team History
The men's national team made its international debut in 1920, winning the silver medal at the Olympics, losing to Canada in the gold medal game. Hall of Fame member Francis "Moose" Goheen was the best player on the team.
The USAHA disbanded after the 1925-26 season and, leaving amateur hockey in the United States without a governing body until 1930 when the Amateur Athletic Union assumed this role. The U.S. missed the 1928 Olympics and 1930 World Championships due to the lack of a governing body in place.
They returned to the international scene in 1931, and were represented at the World Championships by the Boston Olympics, finishing second. On home ice in Lake Placid at the 1932 Winter Olympics, the hosts claimed silver. A year later, the Massachusetts Rangers won the country's only gold medal to date at the World Championships.
Hockey grew slowly during the Depression Era of the early 1930s. Canadian imports took most of the college hockey scholarships and there was no clear policy to develop young American players. Another governing body, the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States (AHAUS; today USA Hockey), was formed in New York City on October 29, 1937 and placed more emphasis on developing home-grown talent.
Squabbles soon arose between the AHAUS and AAU, which were not fully resolved until after the debacle at the 1948 Winter Olympics, when the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States took full control of hockey governance in the country. The American national team was made up of college and semi-professional players until 1987, when NHL players were allowed to participate for the first time.
Their greatest success was the "Miracle on Ice" at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York when they defeated the heavily favored Soviet Union on the way to a gold medal. Though hockey is not a universally popular sport in the United States, the "Miracle" is often listed as one of the greatest achievements in the history of American sports. The U.S. also won the gold medal in the 1960 Games at Squaw Valley, California, defeating the Soviet Union, Canada, Czechoslovakia, and Sweden along the way. However, since this victory is not as well known as the 1980 win, it has come to be known as the "Forgotten Miracle."
U.S. hockey experienced a spike in talent in the 1980s and 1990s, with future National Hockey League (NHL) stars including Tony Amonte, Tom Barrasso, Chris Chelios, Brett Hull, Pat LaFontaine, John LeClair, Brian Leetch, Mike Modano, Mike Richter, Jeremy Roenick, Kevin Stevens, Keith Tkachuk, and Doug Weight. Although the United States finished no higher than fourth in any World or Olympic event from 1981 through 1994, the Americans did win the 1996 World Cup of Hockey with a squad of NHL players. Six years later, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and NHL arranged to allow NHL players to participate in the Olympic Games, the United States earned a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics with a roster that included NHL stars Adam Deadmarsh, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Brian Rafalski. But by 2006, many of these NHL All-Stars had retired or lost their skill with age. Though the 2006 Olympic team finished a disappointing 8th, it was more of a transitional team, featuring young NHL players like Rick DiPietro, John-Michael Liles, and Jordan Leopold.
The 2010 U.S. Olympic team was composed of much younger and faster players than teams of previous years, including David Backes, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, Bobby Ryan, Paul Stastny, and Ryan Suter. The team also had a solid group of veterans that included top NHL goalie Ryan Miller top defenseman Brian Rafalski and U.S. Olympic Team Captain Jamie Langenbrunner. The U.S. team upset team Canada 5–3 in the round-robin phase of the tournament and went into the single elimination phase of the tournament as the number-one seeded team. After beating Finland 6–1 the United States advanced to the gold medal game, where they lost in overtime 3–2 to Canada to claim the silver medal. The gold medal game between Canada and the United States was watched by an estimated 27.6 million U.S. households. This was the most watched hockey game in America since the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" game, including any Stanley Cup Final or NHL Winter Classic broadcast.
However, several months later at the IIHF World Championship, the U.S. team posted the worst record in its history by losing all three of its games in the preliminary round. The losses eliminated the United States from medal contention and dropped them below 12th place. Only three wins in the relegation round, including a shootout win over Italy, prevented the United States from being relegated to Division I and gave Team USA a chance to play for the IIHF World Championship in 2011.
The women's national team made its international debut in 1987, finishing in third place at the World Women's Hockey Tournament, held in North York, Canada. The United States has been one of the most dominant women's hockey teams in international play – second only to Canada – having won gold or silver in every major tournament with the exception of the 2006 Winter Olympics, where they captured bronze. They won gold at the first-ever Women's Olympic tournament in 1998 and have claimed seven IIHF World Women's Championships since 2005.
The junior national team first played in the IIHF World U20 Championships in 1974. They have won the gold medal at the world juniors on three occasions, in 2004, 2010, and 2013. They have also won the silver medal once, and the bronze medal five times.
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