Vintage Hockey Champions
Montreal's Victoria Skating Rink was the site of the first documented, organized hockey match in 1875. It's where the first matches for the Stanley Cup were played in 1893. Around that same time four Liffiton brothers grew up in Montreal and played the game at its highest levels.
Sometimes they were on opposing teams, and the competition is said to have been fierce. Charlie in 1902 and Ernie in 1907-08 were on Stanley Cup teams. Both went on to play in the first professional leagues.
A third brother, Artie, moved to New York City in 1899, where he was a star in the first American hockey league. After playing for the Brooklyn Hockey Club, he skated ten years with the Crescent Athletic Club, which dominated American amateur hockey before World War I.
Pete, the youngest brother, played senior amateur hockey in Montreal from 1912 through 1916.
Organized ice hockey, leagues with regular teams and regular schedules, developed in Canada as the country's cold weather enabled the sustained use of natural ice rinks. Railroad lines allowed teams to travel long distances to play matches. Prior to 1895, when artificial ice rinks were constructed in New York City, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore, ice hockey in the United States was dependant on sporadic cold spells.
Hockey rules were first written down in Montreal, but they were quite different from modern hockey rules. Seven players rather than six comprised a team. Players skated the entire game, two thirty minute periods, rather than a few minutes at a time.
The hockey season of 1900 was more like the football season of today. It started in late December and was eight or ten weeks long with teams playing a match each week.
The modern regular season starts in September, and each team plays eighty-two games before the playoffs begin. Goals in the oldtime game before 1900 were scored between two posts sticking in the ice with no netting to catch the puck. Goalies were not allowed to leave their feet to fend off the puck.