Ice hockey

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Ice hockey (called hockey in countries where it is the most popular form of hockey) is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use sticks to direct a puck into the opposing team's goal. It is a fast-paced physical sport. Ice hockey is most popular in areas that are sufficiently cold for natural reliable seasonal ice cover, such as Canada, the Czech Republic, Latvia, the Nordic countries (especially Finland and Sweden), United States, Russia, Slovakia, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. With the advent of indoor artificial ice rinks it has become a year-round pastime in these areas. Ice hockey is one of the four major North American professional sports. Worldwide the National Hockey League (NHL) is the highest level for men and both the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) and the Western Women's Hockey League (WWHL) are the highest levels for women. It is the official national winter sport of Canada, where the game enjoys immense popularity.

While there are 68 total members of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), 162 of 177 medals at the IIHF World Championships have been taken by seven nations: Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United States.[1][2] Of the 64 medals awarded in men's competition at the Olympic level from 1920 on, only six did not go to the one of those countries. All 12 Olympic and 36 IIHF World Women Championships medals have gone to one of those seven countries, and every gold medal in both competitions has been won by either Canada or the United States.[3][4]

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