Friday, February 05, 2010

Baltimore Hockey History: The First Game in the USA

This past February 1st marked the 114th anniversary of the first collegiate game in the history of the sport of ice hockey. Many consider it the first organized hockey game in the United States, which I don't know how due to the past games we've been talking about in the past posts where there have been different athletic clubs playing against each other. Though, they call this game the first competitive, I am only to assume the others were competitive. Yet, I digress.

The game took place at the new North Avenue Arena in Baltimore on February 1st, 1896; where the Yale University Bulldogs took on the Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays. Yale had been playing up around Connecticut, much like how JHU had been playing against the random Athletic Clubs in the Baltimore area and all around Maryland. A couple of days prior to this, the Yale team took on the Batlimore Athletic Club in a warm-up game and beat the BAC 3-2.

The stage was set for the first college game, which now the ECAC takes claim to since Yale is a part of the the modern day ECAC. The line-ups for the game were unveiled a day before the game and after the review of Yale-BAC match-up. The Yale University teams would have Ryder, Hall, and Morris up-front at forwards, Jones and Chace (captain) on defense, Barnes as the cover point, and Larned in goal. For Johns Hopkins, Bagg, Hill, and Reese were up-front, Mitchell (captain) and Williams on defense, Leary as cover point, while Scholl was tending net for the Jays.

There was not much made out of the first game. It was put as a blurb on "The Skaters' Hour" section of the Baltimore Sun on page 7 on February 3rd of 1896. The game summary of the Yale-BAC game was given more and there was plenty description to that game than this game. In fact, I'm able to put the entire blurb they put about the game.
Two to two was the score of the hockey match played at the North Avenue Rink Saturday night between the Johns Hopkins University team and the men from Yale. The attendance was the largest of the season. The game was most exciting from start to finish.
And that was it. That was all that was made of the first organized game of the US from the local paper that covered it. That is compared to the whole column they gave the Yale-BAC game, which I'll probably have to unveil in the next installment. I could very well make the obvious US newspapers don't care about hockey joke, but I'm above that. You have to wonder if they knew the history that was being made, if the coverage would have been given more. The next day, Yale would beat Johns Hopkins 3-2, but no coverage was given to that game.

Even with the little given, this was a historical time for the game in the US. Years later in 1898, Brown University would beat Harvard University in a game where the schools still sponsor the teams as of today. But that one game in Baltimore was what set the tone for the game, and while many in the area will never know about it; Baltimore is the birthplace of USA hockey and should never be too diminished in some aspect of it. Even though they can't keep a team now, they can never lose that history that has happened.

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