By Sonal Batra:
Ice hockey is most popular in Canada and has marked its presence around the globe as well. In India, Ice hockey is mainly played in Himalayan region of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. During winter the game is at its peak of fame due to lack of artificial freezing of lakes. Natural freezing of lakes and ponds enables more than 25 clubs and villages to come together and enjoy this game in the form of a competitive tournament.
The first artificial ice hockey rink of 60 by 30 metres was inaugurated in Dehradoon, Uttarakhand in March 2009. The Ice Hockey Association of India concluded the 4th National Ice Hockey Championships in Leh from 22 to 29 January 2009 which was won by the Ladakh Scouts Regimental team won the finals. The Ice Hockey Association of India also selected its National team there which represented India in the Asian Challenge cup held in Abu Dhabi in March 2009.
The game is similar to hockey played in a field but one needs to master not only his offence and defence but his skills on ice as a skater. It is a game of talent of hands and feet. One needs an excellent control over his feet while skating on ice and needs to sync his hand movements to handle the puck. The puck here is a small round shaped piece of vulcanized rubber disc that is used instead of a ball and moves better on ice. There are two teams who battle each other for the puck that needs to be delivered by the players into their competitors’ goal to score a point. The team with the highest points at the end of the game wins.
There are six players in each team including one goaltender — all of them wearing ice-skate and holding a hockey sticks. The other five players usually are divided as two defensemen and the other three are forwards. Usually teams have two or three sets of players in order to alternate when needed. Substitutions are permitted at any time during the game.
The game is mainly characterized by skilful display of ice skating in sync with one’s ability to pass around the puck. The game has its moments of face offs and display of anger. NO doubt that adds to the TRP of the game but at the end of it all, the glory of this sport is the fact that it’s a combination of two and gives entertainment to all.