Talk to any Canadian and they’ll tell you that hockey is Canada’s game. Ice hockey is in Canada’s blood, literally. They invented it and proudly defend it. So why is this game so popular and why is the rest of the world getting in on the action?

The origin’s of Ice Hockey were believed to have been based from common European stick and ball games played in the early 18th and 19th centuries. Recent evidence was discovered however that ice hockey actually evolved from the Irish game of Hurling, which was introduced to King’s College in Nova Scotia in the early 1800s. The game involved using a hurley, or wooden stick, to hit a square wooden block instead of a ball. Loosely based on the rules of field hockey, the game started to spread throughout Canada, with Scottish and Irish immigrants alongside soldiers from the British army regularly playing. The name ‘hockey’ is believed to be derived from the French word ‘hoquet’, or shepherd’s stick. The game became immensely popular across many of Canada’s provinces, where players would head outdoors in the winter and play matches on curling rinks.

The first recorded public indoor hockey match took place in 1875 at Montreal’s Victoria Skating Rink. Two teams of students from McGill University came together for the match, which was played based largely on rules borrowed from field hockey. Due to the intensity of the matches, the game quickly garnered a reputation for violence and aggression. The university later established the first organized team, the McGill University Hockey Club which was formed in 1877, and created a more formal set of rules which included limiting the number of players on each side to 9.

Canadian’s fell in love with the sport, which quickly soared in popularity across the country. By the late 1800s, Ice Hockey had become the most popular sport in Canada, competing neck and neck with lacrosse. This led to the establishment of the first national hockey organization, the AHA or Amateur Hockey Association which proceeded to limit the players on each side to 7. The first league was formed in 1885 with Queen’s university winning 3-1 against Athletics in the first championship game.

Lord Stanley of Preston was the sixth Governer General of Canada from 1888 to 1893, and was known as an avid sportsman. He is also famous in North America for providing Canada with the Stanley Cup, a championship trophy which is awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoff winner. It’s also the oldest trophy awarded to a professional sports franchise in North America. First awarded in 1893 to the Montreal Hockey Club, the trophy is by far the most prestigious award available in professional hockey today.

The National Hockey League was established in 1917, and today is recognized as the world’s premier hockey league. Initially, the league only included Canadian teams however by 1926, six of the 10 teams were from the United States. The league currently has 31 franchises, 7 in Canada and 24 in the United States.

One of the reason’s the sport is so popular is that unlike other sports that are slow and not that captivating, hockey is fast-paced and action packed. Players glide across the ice at breakneck speeds, chasing the puck down while slamming into the arena’s walls and each other. Fan’s as so deeply connected with their teams and players and there are plenty of moments that keep everyone on the edge of their seats. Like most sports, it’s very challenging to become a professional player, with only around 0.5% of players making it into the top feeder leagues of the NHL. Pros need to combine size and strength, with exceptional skills and skating ability to attract the scouts, and that’s only the start of the journey. It’s then about learning to synchronize personal skill and technique while developing tactics and strategies with your team.

Integrating video analysis tools into your practice is one of the best ways to stay at the top of the league. They allow you to not examine your personal technique, but also analyze the tactics used by your competitors. There is a goldmine of data and insights available to hockey teams and coaches for those who take the time to analyze the information.

One of the challenge parts of video analysis is the time it takes to process the footage, with the user having to manually draw lines and map angles frame-by-frame. No more! We’re pleased to announce the release of SIVA, Sprongo’s intelligent video analysis software, which combines artificial intelligence and machine learning together into a revolutionary video analysis tool that takes all the manual work out of the process.

In moments SIVA will process a segment of footage, automatically creating a skeleton of the subject and providing an array of useful data and insights that can be immediately reviewed. You can now gather data and insights in minutes that would have previously taken you hours to collect. Additionally, SIVA provides all the standard video analysis tools you’d expect like slow motion, side-by-side comparison and team sharing to name a few. This powerful software tool is already being used by professional athletes around the world and is a game changing product for professional ice hockey teams.

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