While it is true that the cradle of hockey is to be found in North America – the honour is usually bestowed on Canada where the first games and tournaments were organized rather than on the United States. Even though the first clubs were established by the end of the nineteenth century (1895 – New York Hockey Club, 1896 – St. Nicolas HC New York, 1897 – Yale) amateur and professional competitions were missing from the domestic scene for quite a few years. In addition to this, in the USA hockey has never taken hold as a number one sport. The popularity of hockey lags behind American football, baseball, and basketball. In spite of this a substantial number of not only the best players, but whole professional clubs as well move from Canada to the USA – the reason being the attractive economic conditions that the United States has to offer.
In 1914, when the Amateur Hockey Association (AHA) was established, people still did not really think yet in dollars and cents. At that time, hockey expanded from its base on the east coast to the Midwest and all the way over to the west coast. It began to be played for instance in Texas, Ohio, and California. Changing conditions and a growing number of clubs and players led local hockey officials to form the USAHA (United States Amateur Hockey Association) on 25 October 1920, which operates still to the present day (only the name has changed – AHAUS – Amateur Hockey Association of United States). The United States has been a member of the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) from 26 April 1920, only halting its membership from 1928 to 1930 (joining again on 26 January 1930).
A certain disunity aided the formation of different competitive and independent federations and associations. Most of them operated their own more or less satisfactory competitions. The first professional league – the IPHL (International Professional Hockey League) was established in 1904 when J.L. Gibbson engaged the first Canadian players in the Houghton team. The Boston Bruins entered the NHL (1924) as the first American club and the equation Hockey = NHL has applied for Americans more or less up to now. The local public only really takes notice though in the case of the Olympic Games, the World Cup (previously Canada Cup), or for university tournaments.
In the 1920’s, the Americans came into contact with the hockey of Europe. They introduced themselves to the old continent for the first time at the Winter Olympic Games in Antwerp and they won silver medals right away. In 1993, at the World Championship in Prague they for the first time in history beat Canada (2-1).
The United States made their position clear in the world’s elite up until the beginning of World War II. However, domestic professional competitions were given a priority afterwards. In the seventies, the ignoring of international contacts brought the Americans even a drop to Group B of the World Championship, where they played five times. At the turn of the millennium, they were very lucky to remain among the elite. Nor was it better at the 2003 World Championship in Finland – it almost seemed the United States team came to the “country of a thousands lakes” for a vacation. In the first game, they lost to the underestimated Denmark 5-2, and the second to Switzerland 1-0. These results meant that they finished last in their basic group and had to play to survive.
Such an approach isn’t a good advertisement for American hockey though to be honest only a few American fans will have their moods spoiled. They always believe, “When the Olympics or World Cup come around, we will do better.” But European fans would greatly like to see the Americans play better here again one day.
You can find the results and the calendar of 2003/04 season HERE
Gold: 2 times – 1933, 1960.
Silver: 9 times – 1920, 1924, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1939, 1950, 1952, 1956.
Bronze: 4 times – 1936, 1949, 1962, 1996.
Gold: 2 times – 1960 (Squaw Valley), 1980 (Lake Placid).
Silver: 7 times – 1920 (Antwerp), 1924 (Chamonix), 1932 (Lake Placid), 1952 (Oslo), 1956 (Cortina d’ Ampezzo), 1972 (Sapporo), 2002 (Salt Lake City).
Bronze: once – 1936 (Garmisch-Partenkirchen).
Silver Medal team from 2002 Winter Olympic Games (Salt Lake City)
Goalies: Mike Richter, Tom Barrasso, Mike Dunham.
Defense: Brian Leetch, Chris Chelios, Gary Suter, Brian Rafalski, Phil Housley, Aaron Miller, Tom Poti.
Forwards: Mike Modano, John LeClair, Keith Tkachuk, Tony Amonte, Bill Guerin, Brian Rolston, Brett Hull, Chris Drury, Jeremy Roenick, Doug Weight, Scott Young, Mike York, Adam Deadmarsh.
Head Coach: Herb Brooks.