Early Names

The Name of the Game – Ice Hockey had Several Names

The game of ‘Ice Hockey’ came from several games. Australians refer to their brand of “Field Hockey” as “Hockey”, while we Canadians refer to our “Ice Hockey”, as “Hockey”. Obviously, we all should be calling the two games by their proper names, but there’s no accounting for custom in this world. Actually, for many years in Newfoundland, where custom for naming places, people and things is notoriously interesting, folks used to refer to Ice Hockey as “Pucks”, as they played “Pucks on the Pond”.

Although the King’s College School boys were playing Ireland’s field game of “Hurley”, when they decided to try it on ice, the new game was soon influenced by other games already known to the players. These influences were reflected in the names used to describe the game as it evolved.

The terms “Wicket” (Halifax 1831) and “Ricket” (Dartmouth 1842) were both used to denote the game in the early years and were terms derived from the English game of Cricket for which King’s College students were also noted. The “Ricket” was a name applied to the goal posts while “Wicket” was used to describe a score, a hit, and the place of hitting the ball in the game of Cricket as well as in another field game, Croquet. As the boys were used to these terms as they applied to their several games, it was natural for them to use them in whatever game they were playing. Also appearing in Nova Scotia newspapers of the time, the name of “Break Shins” (Pictou 1829), describes the injurious characteristic of the game, eventually leading to the creation of protective equipment for participants.

The Scottish field game of Shinty is similar to Hurley and uses somewhat similar sticks and ball. It’s effect on the development of Ice Hockey was a natural happening considering the many Scottish settlers in Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada. A common term used to describe recreational Ice Hockey played on outdoor ponds, frozen fields and streets, for many years was “Shinny” which was obviously derived from the Scottish version of the field game.