The phrase "hat trick" is thrown around a lot in American parlance. Most people know colloquially what it means: a triple score. But that's generally all they know about hockey other than the name Gretzky.
And that's a shame, because there are plenty more fun facts.
For example: Hockey was created as an official sport in 1875 in Montreal. It debuted at the Olympics in 1920, but it was originally part of the summer games.
It is considered the fastest sport—so fast, in fact, that the FOX network developed special electronic pucks that left tracers on TV so viewers could better follow them as they shot around the rink at speeds exceeding 70 mph.
It's also the only sport in which fighting between players is condoned. Refs will stop games so fights can continue, despite it technically being against the rules. Players generally serve a five-minute penalty but not until the fight is over.
This has the dual effect of thrilling audiences and making hockey players' brains prized by dementia researchers.
A recent three-part series in The New York Times examined the life and death of one of the NHL's fiercest fighters, Derek Boogaard, and what a doctor's post-mortem examination of his brain revealed. The results sent ripples across the world of sports.
This week is a great time to give hockey a shot. The Idaho Steelheads will play a three-game run against the Alaska Aces Wednesday, Dec. 21, through Friday, Dec. 23. Living up to the name The Aces, those pesky Alaskans and their 16-6 record are top-ranked in the Mountain conference, meaning there's no better time to root, root, root for the home team.