Ice Hockey Introduction
Albertans saw their first hockey game on January 4, 1893 in Calgary. This coincided with the introduction of the Stanley Cup in the east. Northern Alberta saw its first hockey game in Edmonton on Christmas Day, 1894.
From there, hockey has evolved in many ways. It was played on natural ice; the season was short, driven by the weather conditions. The schedules were eventually lengthened with the advent of artificial ice. Hockey grew from thrown-together play-for-fun local teams that issued challenges to the reigning Stanley Cup champions to the sophisticated, multi-level network of teams and leagues based on age, skill levels and gender that crossed provincial and eventually international borders, playing for a plethora of regional, national and international trophies and cups.
It was not restricted to the cities; it quickly became a staple in small communities across the province. Towns like Luscar, Coleman, Olds and Drumheller achieved great successes, even in competition with the resource-rich city teams.
It moved from exclusively senior hockey to intermediate, junior, university, and women's hockey and minor hockey for different age groups. It wasn't long before the professional game took hold, forcing the seniors to the sidelines. The professional-senior conflict became a recurring theme in Alberta's hockey history. Rarely did the two co-exist with any degree of success. But each has had its moments in the limelight over time, as have the intermediate and junior categories. Indeed, intermediate hockey, lower in status than the professional and senior categories, brought the province some of its greatest glories – world championships and Olympic gold.
The list of outstanding teams which have left their marks on Alberta hockey, Canada and, indeed, the international hockey community is a lengthy one: the Eskimos, Stampeders, Flyers, Oil Kings, Native Sons, Maple Leafs, Golden Bears, Chimos, Mercurys, Miners, Flames and Oilers.
There have been many historic moments in Alberta's hockey history: like the opening of the Edmonton Gardens on Christmas day in 1913; the introduction of artificial ice to Alberta in Calgary in 1935; Allan Cup, Memorial Cup and President's Cup victories; the arrival of NHL hockey; and bringing home the game's ultimate prizes – Olympic gold and the Stanley Cup.
The following Timeline focuses on four categories of Alberta's vast hockey network: professional hockey, and the senior, intermediate and junior categories of amateur hockey. Each has its roots in the early days of the game in Alberta. Historically, these categories have been the most prominent – the most popular and well-attended of the sport and, since the beginning, very much intertwined. When one's fortunes rose, another's declined. These four categories have been competing for the hockey fans' attention for over a century. Finally, university and women's hockey are acknowledged for their longevity and growth.