Why are NHL games called ‘matches’ instead of ‘games’?

Being a die-hard hockey fan comes with its own set of quirks and perks. One of which is the unusual jargon used in the sport. Talk to any hockey fan, and you’ll start hearing words like “Zamboni,” “breakaway,” and “icing” thrown around like they’re common knowledge. But one term still baffles many hockey enthusiasts worldwide – why are NHL games called “matches” instead of “games”? Let’s find out!

The Story Behind the Word “Match”

The term “match” is borrowed from the origins of the sport. Hockey has Scottish roots, and “match” has been used in Scottish sports since the 16th century. “Match” was initially used to refer to any sporting contest or competitive game. The word also found its way into English sports vernacular and was used to describe a game at the time. Interestingly, other sports like soccer and tennis still use “match” to describe a competition today.

Is Ice hockey a game or a match?

When the NHL was founded in 1917, they adopted the word “match” instead of “game.” Back then, the NHL consisted of only four teams, and matches were played in a series of two. The team with the most points at the end of the series would win the match, which then wasn’t just a single hockey game but a culmination of several matches. The term “match” has stuck ever since. Even though the NHL has grown considerably and no longer plays matches in a series of two.

Another possible reason for the NHL adopting the word “match” is to differentiate itself from other North American sports. Most other sports, like baseball and football, use the word “game.” Using “match,” the NHL established itself as a unique, international sport with deep roots in European history. It has helped enhance the appeal of NHL games to a global audience and attract more fans worldwide.

What is a Hockey Game Called Today?

The use of “match” in Canadian English is still prevalent today, and it is used in several other contexts, such as a romantic encounter or finding compatible partners for a task, such as job hunting or hiring. However, the use of “match” to describe games is slowly being phased out, primarily due to the influence of American English. As hockey gains more attention in the US, the term “game” is becoming more widely accepted. You will see NHL websites use the word games now compared to matches.

So, there you have it – why NHL games are called “matches” instead of “games” is closely linked to the sport’s Scottish roots. The term has managed to remain relevant and stick around for over a century, providing an exciting insight into the historical evolution of hockey. As we embrace the modern era of hockey and its globalization, it’s interesting to look back and reflect on the quirks that make this beautiful sport so unique.

Leave a Comment