Since the first stick and ball were put into play in Montreal, Canada in 1875, the sport of ice hockey has evolved to become one of the most highly anticipated sports each winter season – and crucially, a category in the Winter Olympics.
Every four years, countries which have adopted the sport bring out their best players to go head-to-head in one of the most epic international competitions.
With the intense, high-speed nature of the team sport, it’s no wonder that prior to stepping foot at PyeongChang 2018 in South Korea, many Olympic qualifiers already possess Guinness World Records titles.
To get fans excited for this year’s tournament, here are a few ice hockey titles that participating nations already hold.
It's no surprise that the birthplace of ice hockey has hosted a few impressive Olympic records.
Throughout the years, the Great White North has been a forced to be reckoned with in the rink, having the Most Winter Olympics ice hockey gold medals (male team) with eight.
In 2010, the Canadian men’s ice hockey team matched Russia - who had earned their accolades in 1956, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1984, 1988 and 1992 - the year the games were hosted in Vancouver.
That same year, the women’s ice hockey team took home the Most Winter Olympics ice hockey gold medals by a female team, with a noteworthy total of three.
Seeing as the women’s team was only introduced at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, their victory was tremendous achievement in such a short time span.
In their team were two remarkable powerhouse players, Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford, who are the only people to possess the Most Winter Olympics ice hockey medals won by an individual with five apiece.
Both won a silver medal in Nagano 1998 and then four consecutive golds from 2002-2014, leaving a mark and legacy on the ice.
The United States is one of Canada’s fiercest competitors during each Winter Olympics, especially in the sport of ice hockey.
Shoulder-to-shoulder in both skill and territory, the USA’s outstanding players put up a good fight each year for the gold.
While they have two gold medals and one bronze, they do have the Most Winter Olympic ice hockey games played by a country – at a total of 140.
This year it will be interesting to see how they fair against Canada – especially with the NHL officially drawing back from this year’s Olympic Games to focus on the season.
As is stands, many Americans will be waiting to see if any players live up to record holder Chris Chelios, who is the Oldest US Olympic Games Ice Hockey player to enter the rink to date.
At 44, Chelios, a defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings, captained the US hockey team for a third straight Winter Games, in Turin, Italy, in February 2006. He and former pro Keith Tkachuk (USA) are the only two Americans ever to be part of four Olympic ice hockey teams (1984, 1998, 2002, 2006).
Of course, some of the most successful nations to hold records in Olympic ice hockey are those with cold climates.
Beginning with Switzerland, a country known for its snow, the land of clocks and chocolate does boast the player who has the overall category for Longest career as Winter Olympics ice hockey player (male); Richard Torriani played for them from 1928-1948, winning two bronze medals in his first and final games.
Richard’s title is comparable to Finland’s esteemed player Teemu Selanne, also referred to as the "Finnish Flash" for his lightning performance in the rink. Teemu is Oldest goalscorer in Olympic ice hockey (male) and the Oldest ice hockey medallist at a Winter Olympic Games – following his unforgettable match against the USA in Sochi, Russia in 2014.
Earlier in the Olympic competition on 14 February, Czech international Jaromir Jagr had scored aged 41 years 364 days to set the record. He was later overtaken in the evening game by Teemu Selänne, who scored aged 43 years 226 days in the first round against Norway.
By scoring twice in the bronze medal match, Selänne helped Finland to a 5-0 victory over the USA and he became the Oldest medallist in Olympic ice hockey.
Germany and Hungary also hold records for having veteran players on their Olympic roster, tying for the record Oldest ice hockey player in the overall Olympic Games when Bela Ordody (Hungary) and Alfred Steinka (Germany) stepped in to the 1928 Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland at the age of 48 years.
Although ice hockey might be typically regarded as a male-dominant sport, the women who participate are nothing short of extraordinary.
Slovakia might be bringing 25 male hockey players to PyeongChang this year, but it is their 2008 women’s team which actually broke a world record for their athletic capabilities.
During a Pre-Olympic qualification game in Latvia, the Slovakian team achieved the Highest score in an international ice hockey match, beating Bulagaria 82-0. The score for each third was as follows, 31-0, 24-0 and 27-0. Janka Culicova was the topscorer in the match with 10 goals, with the most assists being made by Petra Dankova who managed 12.
Of all of Europe however, Sweden seemingly has the most unique title, having been the First team to ever win the ice hockey world championship and Olympic titles in the same year.
In a victorious 4-0 shutout over the Czech Republic in Latvia during the 2006 championships, it was the second major international title in three months for the Swedes, who eventually went on to take the gold at the Turin games.
Though they haven’t accomplished the most ice hockey medals per country, no other nation in history has managed to achieve this feat. We’ll see if that changes at PyeongChang 2018.
In the past, Russia has been one of the most menacing opponents in the fight for the gold medal, being quite competitive on the ice.
The huge nation, known for having the record Most Winter Olympics ice hockey gold medals (individual), claims not one, but six respected players who have each acquired three gold medals for their athletic abilities in the rink.
Soviet players Vitaliy Semyenovich Davydov, Anatoliy Vasilyevich Firsov, Viktor Grigoryevich Kuzkin and Aleksandr Pavlovich Ragulin tied for the tite in 1964, 1968 and 1972 – and Vladislav Aleksandrovich Tretyak in 1972, 1976 and 1984, followed by Andrey Khomutov in 1984, 1988 and 1992.
Despite the recent drug conviction determined by the International Olympic Committee against Russia, they will still be bringing ice hockey teams to PyeongChang this year under the banner of Olympic Athlete from Russia and prove they are clean.
The setback may just give other nations a chance at equaling Russia’s long-time record, however, with the National Hockey League choosing to not send players to the this year’s Olympics, they just may have an advantage. We’ll have to see what plays out from 10-25 February.