March 3 marks the anniversary of the first indoor hockey game, one which happened to have a surprise ending: A melee that didn’t involve just the teams on the ice.
Organized by Halifax native James G.A Creighton in Montreal, Quebec in 1875, two teams of 9 men (who all belong to that same skating club) faced off inside the rink and made history as the first group of people to do so. Back then, a goal was considered a game and shortly after 9:00 PM Creighton’s team was up 2-1. While the players were all anticipating another game, some of the other members of the club had other plans.
This is where the story takes a wacky turn.
Frustrated that this large group of people were taking up the entire ice for an extended period of time, other members of the skating club decided enough was enough. “Shins and heads were battered, benches smashed, and the lady spectators fled in confusion.” said newspapers in Ottawa and Kingston. Recreational skaters and hockey players threw hands until a head injury suffered by one of the skaters put an end to the brawl.
Another advancement to come out of the game was the use of a disc instead of a ball. With no boards to protect onlookers, they figured the hardball normally used for the outdoor version of the game would too easily fly off the ice and cause an injury. So not only did this first game set the stage for the 5-minute major, but also for the puck itself!
Even when it isn’t the two teams exchanging blows, it seems hockey and fighting are as inseparable as fish are to water even back at the first indoor hockey game.
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Back then, we doubt that had a penalty box to simmer down in either.
Featured image: ESPN via espn.com