On 21 August 2015 at 18:08 | updated on 03 October 2015 at 08:35

The History of American Roller Hockey

The History of American Roller Hockey

Rivalry between Rink Hockey (on quad skates with a curved stick and a ball) and Inline Hockey (on inline skates with a ice-type stick and a puck) is a thing. The histories of the two disciplines have been intimately related since the beginnings...


Back to the 40's

Photo n°1 : A.-V. Phillips, Complete book of roller skating, New York, 1979

Way before the USA Roller Sports federation was born, there was the Roller Skating Rink Operators Association (RSROA).

Ball and Puck together

In 1940 the RSROA publishes a first ruleset inspired by the NHL (the National Hockey League managed by ice hockey). Unfortunately, WWII hinders the development of the discipline. At first, clubs are only to be found in the North of the USA and in some border cities in Canada. They play 'Puck Roller Hockey'. The practice becomes very popular thanks to the local TV that needs its air-time occupied. In 1959, the increasing interest of the media leads to the creation of a national committee of Puck Hockey to lay down specific rules in accordance with the size of the rinks of the time. The American Roller Hockey Association sees the light at the instigation of Joe Spillman, a rink manager of San Antonio, Texas. Under his management, Roller Hockey spreads throughout the United States.

1960: Firsts exhibitions

In 1960, the Skating Championships take place in Little Rock, Arkansas, with exhibitions of ball hockey (rink hockey) and puck roller hockey. Following this competition, the first official season of roller hockey starts in North America. Obviously, the discipline is essentially practiced on quad skates (there are no inline skates at that time in the USA) but with a puck! Regional competitions determine which teams will meet together at the North American national championship.

In 1962, at the Pershing Auditorium of Lincoln, Nebraska, both practices, with ball and puck, are represented. The Wild Cats of Detroit, Michigan, are the first team to get the title in Puck Hockey on quad skates.

Photo n°2 : R. R. Olney & Ch. Bush, Roller skating !!, New York, 1979

1965: The recognition of Puck Hockey

On September 1st, 1965, during the bi-annual meeting of its board of directors, the RSROA validates Puck Hockey as a discipline in its own right, just like Rink Hockey, a sport that is very popular in Europe and in South America. It is decided that both practices will follow the same ruleset and that each practice will have its separate championship with a distinct title.

In the January 1965 issue of Skate Magazine, Budd Van Roekel, the president of the RSROA at the time, says that even if he acknowledges the popularity of rink hockey abroad, the practice of hockey with a puck is more familiar to the Americans and Canadians. He thinks that both practices can grow side by side.

1966: First North American Title

1966 is the comeback year of Puck Hockey after 4 years of break. the final brings together the Canadiens of Windsor, Ontario and the American Wild Cats of Detroit, Michigan, the historical champions of 1962. The score finally goes in favor of the Canadians, who win the North American title with a victory of 5 to 3.

1977: First Women's North American Championship

1977 marks another important stage in the development of Puck Hockey, with the North American Championships unfolding for the first time in a facility dedicated to Rink Hockey, in Houston, Texas. Many spectators come and the event is heavily promoted: 14 newspapers and TV channels cover the competition. It is also the year of the first women's north american championship.

Photo n°3 : Magazine Skate - été 1985

1992-1993: Transitioning from quad to inline skates

Roller Hockey France USA aux Jeux Mondiaux de 2009The San Diego Hosers are the first to win the national title of the USA on inline skates, in San Diego in July 1993. During the previous USARS national championships that were held in San Diego too, in 1992, the Hosers had also won the title, but on quad skates.

At that time, Paul Chapey, the coach of the Hosers, realizes that inline skates are faster than quad skates, the latter having yet a maneuverability advantage. As soon as 1992, a few isolated skaters and some teams are already equipped with inline skates but they don't fully master their new devices.

Paul Chapey converts the whole Hosers team to inline skating and comes back in 1993 for the title. This major event happens less than a year before all the other existing competitions, like the NIHA, USA Hockey InLine, NARCh and AIRHS.

1995: The first World Championships

The World Championships of Roller Hockey

• 1995 : Chicago (USA)
• 1996 : Roccaraso (Italy)
• 1997 : Zell am See (Austria)
• 1998 : Winnipeg, Canada
• 1999 : Thoune & Wichtrach (Switzerland)
• 2000 : Amiens (France)
• 2001 : Torrevieja (Spain)
• 2002 : Rochester, New York, (USA)
• 2003 : Pisek (Czech Republic)
• 2004 : London (Canada)
• 2005 : Paris Bercy (France)
• 2006 : Detroit (USA)
• 2007 : Bilbao (Spain)
• 2008 : Ratingen (Germany)
• 2009 : Varèse (Italy)
• 2010 : Beroun (Czech Republic)
• 2011 : Roccaraso (Italy)
• 2012 : Bucaramanga (Colombia)
• 2013 : Anaheim (USA)
• 2014 : Toulouse (France)
• 2015 : Rosario (Argentina)

The senior men's world championships of IIHF Roller Inline Hockey (close to ice hockey) starts in 1996, but since then, no juniors' or women' IIHF worlds have ever taken place. In March 2002, the American Olympic Committee confirms the USARS as the official body in charge of skating in the USA — including Roller Inline Hockey. The first World Championships of Roller Inline Hockey (RILH) take place in the USA under the aegis of the FIRS, at the Odeum Arena of Chicago, Illinois in 1995. The first Junior World Championships take place the following year, in 1996, still in Chicago. The first championships for senior women takes place a little later, supported by the USARS, in Rochester, in the state of New York in 2002.

2005: Roller Inline Hockey entering the World Games

Roller Inline Hockey enters the Pan-American Games in 1999, in Canada. It is back four years later in Dominican Republic.

On March 14th, 2003, during its general meeting, the IWGA recognizes the FIRS as the responsible body for Roller Inline Hockey, and agrees that this variation of hockey will enter the 2005 World Games instead of Rink Hockey. Roller Inline Hockey enters the World Games of Duisburg, Germany in 2005. Rink Hockey had been on the program of the World Games since 1979. The USA win the gold, Canada gets the silver and Switzerland the bronze.

Resignation of the ice

the USARS allow many styles of games and tournaments of American Roller Hockey. Most independent organizers cut their teeth within the USARS. The USARS ruleset has substantial differences with the ice. They come from a consensus with the players and clubs. These differences in the ruleset pose a problem to USA Hockey when, later, the entity wanted to create its own competition format with the same rules as ice hockey. Players oppose such resistance that USA Hockey finally conforms for the most part to the rules followed by the USARS.

Championnat du monde de roller hockey 2011

Iconographic and historical archives

• Photo n°1 : A.-V. Phillips, Complete book of roller skating, New York, 1979
• Photo n°2 : R. R. Olney & Ch. Bush, Roller skating !!, New York, 1979
• Photo n°3 : Skate Magazine, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, published by Roller Skating Rink Operators Association (RSROA) and United States of America Confederation of Amateur Roller Skaters - Summer 1985

Useful links

USARS Website

Our page dedicated to the World Championships of Roller Hockey

By Alfathor
Thank you to George Pickard
former president of CIRILH
Photos: all rights reserved
Released  on 21 August 2015 - Read 9360 times

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