Ice hockey may be Canadaís national sport, but it has grown into an international game. Long played in parts of the world where ice is predominant, the fluidity of the game has caught the attention of people in such places as Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Miami. Modern ice hockey traces its roots to 1875 when the first indoor game was organized in Montreal. Within decades various professional hockey teams and leagues would sprout up, the most notable being the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1917.
Ice hockey has been an international game long before the NHL became a household name. Hockey has been an Olympic sport since 1920 and some of the most dramatic Olympic moments have been provided by the sport, including the United Statesí improbable gold medal in 1980. Ice hockey was also the first Olympic sport to open itself up to professionals in 1988. When the NHL players began participating in 1998, it boosted the gameís popularity even higher. Today even NCAA hockey is experiencing newfound popularity. The NCAA Frozen Four is a highly sought after ticket and in 2001 rivals Michigan and Michigan State set a record when almost 75,000 fans watched them play in a football stadium. Thatís 50,000 more fans than ever saw the Stanley Cup live.
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