Ice hockey is a team winter sport played on ice. Two teams meet on the ice and send 6 players on the ice at the same time (one goaltender, two defencemen and three forwards per side). The forwards try to shoot a disc of vulcanised rubber called puck in the opponent's net with the help of sticks in order to score goals; the team that scores the most win the match.
A typical match lasts 60 minutes and is separated into three periods of 20 minutes each. At the end of the 60 minutes (called regular time), should both teams have scored the same number of goals, in most leagues, an overtime period will follow, with various rules to tell a winner.
While the game originates from Canada, its popularity has since spread all around the world. The sport has a cult following in Canada, but is also very popular elsewhere; it is the top sport in Finland and one of the main sports in Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Latvia.
There are, as of 2007, 1,493,407 registered players worldwide, all ages and sexes together. This number excludes amateur players who play recreational hockey in leagues that are not affiliated with their respective national federations.