Ice hockey made its debut at the Olympic Games in 1920 as a summer sport, but permanently became a part of the Winter Olympics during the 1924 Games in Chamonix.
The sport was played in a round-robin format with medals awarded based on a team’s win-loss record.
8 Feb1924: The Winter Olympics, Chamonix. The Canadian ice hockey team, the Toronto Granites, scoring during the final in which they beat the United States in the final 6-1 to take the gold medal. Mandatory Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive
After early domination by Canada, the Soviet Union came on strong during the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo. They won the gold medal thanks to an undefeated record. This was a sign of things to come, because history repeated itself during the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. The Soviets earned another perfect record and stood atop the podium.
INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - FEBRUARY 8: Members of the Soviet Union hockey team celebrate following the Gold Medal clinching 3-2 win over Team Canada during the 1964 Winter Olympics on February 8, 1964 in Innsbruck, Austria. (Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images)
Ice hockey excellence continued for the Soviet Union in the years that followed. The country captured gold in 1968, 1972 and 1976. They were backstopped by the superb work of Hall of Fame goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. By the end of his career, Tretiak earned three gold medals and one silver, making him one of the most prolific players in Olympic history.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JANUARY 1: Soviet Union's national ice hockey team goalkeeper Vladislav Tretiak poses in January 1972 in Moscow. Tretiak and his teammates won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in February in Sapporo (Japan) and repeated four years later in Innsbruck (Austria). (Photo by UN DA-SIN/AFP/Getty Images)
The 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid are best remembered for the “Miracle on Ice”. They featured the home American side facing off against the defending champion Soviets. The US came out on top in a thrilling 4-3 victory, thanks to superb goaltending from Jim Craig and an unforgettable game-winning goal by Mike Eruzione.
LAKE PLACID, NY - FEB 22: Team USA celebrates their 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union in the semi-final Men's Ice Hockey event at the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York on February 22, 1980. The game was dubbed 'the Miracle on Ice'. The USA went on to win the gold medal by defeating Finland 4-2 in the gold medal game. (Photo by Steve Powell /Getty Images)
The face of ice hockey changed during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. This marked the first time professional players were allowed to suit up for their respective countries. That meant players like Canada’s Wayne Gretzky took part in the Olympics for the first time.
JAPAN - FEBRUARY 13: NAGANO 1998, CAN - BLR 5:0; Wayne GRETZKY/CAN Olympische Winterspiele (Photo by Mark Sandten/Bongarts/Getty Images)
1998 also brought the first women’s ice hockey tournament at the Olympics. The inaugural gold medal was won by the USA, when they defeated Canada 3-1 in the final.
Canada's Therese Brisson (6) falling after getting caught on US player Shelley Looney's (15) stick during the Women's Hockey finals in the 1998 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Norbert Schmidt//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
The Winter Olympics returned to North American soil in 2002. Salt Lake City hosted the Games that saw a Canadian sweep in both men’s and women’s ice hockey. In both gold medal finals, Canada defeated the homeside Americans to earn the top honor. The men’s victory was especially notable because it marked the first time in 50 years Canada won gold in the sport.
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12: Hockey: 2002 Winter Olympics, Canada goalie Martin Brodeur (30) and Simon Gagne (21) victorious, winning gold medal game vs USA, West Valley City UT 2/24/2002 (Photo by David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (SetNumber: X65006 TK3)
History would repeat itself for Canada, when they welcomed the world to Vancouver in 2010. The Canadian women once again captured gold against their American rivals.
Hockey: 2010 Winter Olympics: Canada Tessa Bonhomme (25) victorious after winning Women's Gold Medal Game - Game 20 vs USA at Canada Hockey Place. Vancouver, Canada 2/25/2010 CREDIT: Damian Strohmeyer (Photo by Damian Strohmeyer /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X83662 TK2 R20 F154 )
For the men, Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winner against the US, dubbed by many as the “golden goal”, to help Canada stand atop the podium once again.
Canadian forward Sidney Crosby (87) and Canadian defence Scott Niedermayer (27)jubilates as their team wins gold against the USA in the Men's Gold Medal Hockey match at the Canada Hockey Place during the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada on February 28, 2010. Canada beat the USA 3-2 to win gold. AFP PHOTO / YURI KADOBNOV (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Going into the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Canada leads the all-time ice hockey medal count with 18 (11 goal, 5 silver, 2 bronze).
VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 28: Sidney Crosby #87 of Canada skates with the Canadian national flag following Canada's 3-2 overtime victory during the ice hockey men's gold medal game between USA and Canada on day 17 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 28, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
About Sandra Prusina
Sandra is a sports journalist based out of Calgary, Canada. She's covered three Olympic Games, as well as other sporting events across Canada.
You can follow her on Twitter at @sprusina
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