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The Olympic Hockey Timeline

A quick look at the history of Olympic hockey.


The Olympic Hockey Timeline

Britain and France face off at the 1928 Winter Olympics.

Updated June 03, 2014
  • 1920:
  • hockey is played in early April as part of the Olympic Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium. The tournament also serves as the first World Hockey Championship. Canada wins easily.
  • Games are played with seven players on the ice for each side. The seventh position, commonly known as the "rover," will later be dropped from all organized hockey.
  • 1924:
  • The first Olympic Winter Games are held in Chamonix, France. The Canadian hockey team wins all five of its games, outscoring opponents 110-3.
  • 1932:
  • Needing a win or a tie to secure another gold medal, Canada plays the United States to a draw in a marathon final game. The match is called after three scoreless overtime periods.
  • 1936:
  • After four consecutive gold medals and a 20 straight victories, Canada loses to Great Britain and finishes second. Ten of the 12 British players live in Canada, including goaltender Jimmy Foster, who allows three goals in eight games.
  • Rudi Ball, the star of the German hockey team, is the only Jew allowed to compete for Germany at the Games.
  • 1948:
  • Canada and Czechoslovakia finish with identical 7-0-1 records, with Canada winning the gold medal on total goals scored: 64-62.
  • Jaroslav Drobny, a member of the Czech hockey team, will go on to win a Wimbledon tennis championship in 1954.
  • 1952:
  • For the last time in the 20th Century, Canada wins the gold medal in hockey.
  • Bandy, an older version of ice hockey played with a ball and a larger ice surface, makes its only appearance as a demonstration sport.
  • 1956:
  • The Soviet Union enters its first Winter Olympics, winning more medals than any other country, including the gold medal in hockey. Canada finishes third, behind the United States.
  • 1960:
  • The original Miracle on Ice unfolds at Squaw Valley, California. An unheralded American team defeats Canada 2-1, the Soviets 3-2, and the Czechs 9-4, winning the gold medal. It is the USA's first Olympic gold in ice hockey.
  • 1964:
  • The Soviet Union wins gold, beginning an era of internationl domination that will last nearly three decades. From 1964 to 1992, the Soviet hockey team will win seven Olympic gold medals in eight tries.
  • 1972:
  • Canada refuses to send a team, having withdrawn from international hockey to protest the definition of amateur athletes. International hockey is restricted to amateur athletes, but the Canadians argue that the Soviets and other eastern bloc teams are amateur in name only.
  • After winning the gold medal, the Soviets play a team of Canadian NHL stars in an exhibition series several months later. Shocked by the excellence of the Soviet players, the Canadians win the series by the margin of a single goal in the final game.
  • 1976:
  • Sweden joins the Canadian boycott, also protesting the use of sham "amateurs' by eastern bloc countries.
  • 1980:
  • The Miracle on Ice becomes one of the defining moments in American sports history. An unheralded Team USA closes the tournament by beating the Soviets 4-3 and Finland 4-2 to win the gold medal.
  • 1988:
  • As the amateur era draws to a close in most international sports, the Olympics are opened to professional hockey players. But the top professionals remain unavailable due to a conflict with the NHL schedule.
  • 1992:
  • With the USSR having dissolved a few months before, the Soviet Olympic team competes under the banner of the "Commonwealth of Independent States." The hockey team wins its eighth gold medal since 1956, a final victory in one of the greatest championship runs in any sport. In future Olympics, former Soviets republics will compete seperately.
  • 1994:
  • In one of the all-time great gold medal games, Sweden defeats Canada in a shootout to become Olympic champions for the first time ever. In celebration, Sweden issues a postage stamp bearing the image of Peter Forsberg's winning goal.
  • 1998:
  • Women's ice hockey debuts at the Olympics. The United States wins the inaugural gold medal by defeating Canada.
  • For the first time ever, the NHL takes an Olympic break, allowng its players to join their national teams. The Czech Republic wins a thrilling playoff round, defeating Canada in a shootout and shutting out Russia 1-0 in the gold medal game. Canada and the United States both finish out of the medals.
  • 2002:
  • Canada sweeps gold in the men's and women's tournaments, with the United States winning both silver medals. The Canadian men's victory comes 50 years to the day after its last ice hockey gold at the 1952 Winter Games in Oslo, Norway.
  • The NHL continues its agreement to shut down for the Olympics, allowing national teams to use players from NHL rosters.
  • 2006:
  • In an historic upset, Sweden defeats the USA in a women's semifinal match, and go on to take the silver medal.
  • Sweden defeats arch-rival Finland in the men's gold medal game. The victorious Swedes are welcomed as heroes in Stockholm, where thousands gather for a massive and memorable celebration.
  • 2010:
  • One of the most dramatic final games in Olympic hockey history sees Canada beat the USA 3-2 in overtime to win gold on home ice in Vancouver. The USA mounts a spirited comeback to erase a 2-0 Canada lead, before Sidney Crosby's overtime goal clinches the gold medal.

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